Exactly a year ago today, almost to the hour, in fact, I crash landed in LA. (Quite literally. I was responsible for a minor traffic accident within an hour of entering the city. 0/10 would not recommend.)
It doesn't feel like it, not even slightly.
In part, I blame the lack of seasons. Oh sure, it got a little colder for a few months there, and it's slowly warming up again now, but there was nothing like the strong demarcation that I'm used to — nothing withered and died come September, and nor did anything burst forth into enthusiastic new life as we rounded into March. Palm trees are always green. The grass is always kind of withered. It's a very static kind of cycle.
But it's also true that I didn't exactly hit the ground running. I had to scramble to find an apartment, sort out the utilities, accumulate furniture (it took me more than a month to acquire a desk, and I didn't get a keyboard until well into August), and just generally figure out how to do this "adulting" thing. I don't think I can put a pin thru it precisely, but I feel like it wasn't really until January that I really settled into the groove that I'm in now.
Looking back on my time here so far is also strange because there isn't really anything to mark the anniversary. All my life, the advent of summer has been marked by a slew of tests, and with them a firm sense of finality. But now I'm just . . . keeping on. The seasons here are static, but time is more fluid. There's no large-scale structure to it. Today feels arbitrary, however convenient it is that it falls on a Friday.
Keeping on, tho, has been a major thread of these past twelve months. There have been numerous times where all of this has been overwhelming and frightening and altogether too much for me to want to deal with. These are the sort of feelings that make it easy to want to turn back, to return to familiar waters and steer clear of this confusing new tumult. Only . . . there was no "back" to go to. I couldn't very well not take the job I moved across the country for, couldn't move back in with my parents (who were about to leave the country on sabbatical), certainly couldn't go back and do another year at Yale. The past is closed; only the future lies open.
This hasn't always been the most comforting of thoughts, but it has been a pretty powerful motivator to keep shoving me forward, to make me find some workable solution to the problem at hand, even if it's not the most expected or even necessarily the best.
I said above that I've settled into a groove, but this, too, is temporary. If this past year was all about settling in, this next one is all about packing up and moving on. I have a short list of graduate schools that I'm considering, and this fall will be consumed with campus visits and application forms. There will, presumably, be auditions in the winter, and financial aid bureaucracy in the spring. I obviously can't know exactly when I'll be heading out, but I wouldn't be entirely surprised if I'm not even in this state come next June.
So I'm sort of in an island, at the moment, which is more or less what I wanted in coming out here: A space to breathe and gather my wits, a gap to get myself ready for the next onslaught of academia. This may well be the most settled into LA I ever am.
I'm OK with that. Eventually, I do want a home, a place to put down roots and stay for year after year after year, but that doesn't have to be here. Was never going to be here. Here is just a place I'm passing thru.