I wrote this in 2016 — back when life in Los Angeles was a chore that had to be completed in order to make room for the days when you can look back and marvel. I didn’t want to publish until I could read it with gratitude for what started out as a harrowing experience — and ended up being the challenge I needed to survive.
I arrived at my new home for two weeks and it felt like I was wearing the wrong outfit and color. An orange jumpsuit would’ve perfectly illustrated my disappointment at not making bail.
As the taxi pulled up, I was even more disenchanted. How in the entire fuck did I allow myself to get to this place of hollowed desperation and infectious negligence?
Yes, I know, when you quit the stability of a 9 to 5 and succumb to the consequences of such a decision — you can’t expect the road to be paved in pure gold. But, damn! This journey that began three years ago is eating my ass a little too aggressively.
And it doesn’t feel good.
I paid my fare and reluctantly stepped out of the vehicle and took in the imposing view of the house that was designed to torture me. A simple structure bathed in dirty white that showcases a man walking around on the deck — spacing out his laundry for the sun to kiss madly.
Once the cab driver deposited me to my fate, I stood with disbelief and relief. I couldn’t quite grasp what was about to happen but I was glad it was happening — because that meant that the good stuff ahead had just moved a couple of paces closer.
The guy orchestrating my next phase appeared and we headed into the tomb that was nestled in the Mid-Wilshire section of Los Angeles.
I walked in and it was what I had imagined. I have a fierce imagination and my matured instincts have never let me down. I didn’t expect more than what I paid for and that adherence paid off.
It is a modest home that serves the purpose of housing anyone who can afford to be laid up in a lair that is quite basic and minimally tolerant of the good life.
A room with three bunk beds can’t signify anything but sheer terror for someone like me who worked like a dog to ensure that what was transpiring would never be my tale of woe.
I had it good. But this is real.
I had it good for a minute. Actually, more than that.
My very good friend offered her home to me when I hinted at my plan to ditch New York for L.A. I accepted her generosity — but then weeks later I had to vacate the premises because the property manager was ruffled by my presence.
I moved in with a friend of a friend who graciously opened her home to me and granted my very own bedroom. I was in heaven for approximately six months.
In that time, I had worked two editorial jobs and was eagerly awaiting the third installment that never materialized.
So, it was back to the other friend who gave me tips on how to evade the enemy. I did the best I could under fire but alas! I was discovered in the bunker of my content and hastily banished to the space that I am now occupying — until further notice.
I’m glad I’m not wearing orange. I am donning an erratically printed jump suit that matches my dicey disposition.
I want to sleep away my current status so bad, but, I need to note the happenings of the day into the night.
It’s a house with an upper and lower level. I am lower and I have the bottom half of the bunk next to the door. There is only one other person here and she is a Black girl. I know this because she looks Black and she is sprawled out on the lower section of the bunk in front of me. She has a lot of hair that isn’t hers but it’s natural, which I guess means something. She never turns around to acknowledge me, which doesn’t freak me out because I don’t have the energy to pretend to care. I dump my shit next to my area and sit down feeling hotter than fuck but I am infuriated to notice that I am not sweating.
Maybe that’s because at this moment — I feel less than human.
I start offloading my crap and the Black girl finally gets up and introduces herself. She is young and pretty with crazy hair and a great body. She’s a wannabe actress from San Francisco where she lives with her husband, who is okay with her staying in Los Angeles for long stretches of time, in a bid to prove that she is the next Kerry Washington.
She assumes I’m an actress too and I proudly reply that I’m not. I guess the passing years haven’t taken its toll.
Our introduction calms me down enough to remember that weed and liquor make a medicinal combination when your fever hits epic heights.
We talk, and I check emails for any signs of human contact. I get a query about a job that doesn’t mach my background perfectly, but still gives my soul the fuel it needs to survive another day.
I head out with one mission in mind.
Vodka and soda. I find both and together with the yucca chips I copped next to the mentally inducing supplies — I skip back to the abode that will forever serve as a reminder that each moment counts more than you can adequately comprehend.
My roommate is attempting an exercise routine and all is calm and pleasant. She’s cool and I’m high because I seized the freedom afforded to me and smoked a blunt under the clear black sky.
As she continues to manipulate her muscles and I dive into my mind-altering confection — the door opens and two men appear.
One of them runs this joint and the other is a stranger. The one who helps to keep this operation legit explains to us that this guy is passing through and needs a bed. I’m too altered to give a fuck and the black girl is sober enough to be outraged.
She loses it. How could this guy end up being her bunk mate and my unplanned roommate which again, means nothing because I safely landed in “no-feels territory” almost an hour ago.
Two more roommates dominate the scene — two White girls who speak a language that sounds German or Dutch. I can’t tell. They don’t mind a man in the room.
I’m typing away with gusto to prove that I don’t give a damn about anything except my prowess at blocking out experiences that I should keep to myself, but share out of habit and loss.
The two White girls are packing. This means they leave tomorrow. I would be elated, but they will be replaced and I will be forced to accommodate the unknown.
I’m finally drunk and high enough to believe that when I wake up the next morning, this whole nightmare will convert into a dream that includes a room overlooking the ocean and a salary that matches my intelligence and wit.
I start sneezing. My nose has been a mutha lately but at least my body is still able to function despite being dead inside.
One of the girls turns and asks if I need a tissue. I acknowledge my plight and she hands me one. It was a simply gesture that touched me.
As I blew my nose and she did the same, our laughter rippled though the reckoning of where I was and why I had ended up there.
It won’t be forever.
I can’t let the present map out my future. I have to embrace my surroundings and understand that I am not a victim. I am where I am because I chose it. It’s not ideal but neither are the dots in my mind that keep regrouping without my consent.
I am about to turn in for the night. I am not afraid but I do wonder what the days ahead will bring.
I never wanted to share this out of fear that I will be branded a loser for being an old enough woman — who can’t seem to get it right.
I’m not sure what is right or wrong but I do know that no condition is permanent. I am documenting my journey as proof that when you give it all up, you truly release it all.
What happens next is up to me. Let’s see what I come up with.