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In January 2008 I was 24 years old and 190 pounds thanks to my recently diagnosed hypothyroidism, and on so many anxiety medications I was numb to the world and the crappy boyfriend feeding it all (literally and metaphorically.) I was living at home, directionless, at a tedious job and wondering what happened to the promises of a great life once I got through college and earned that diploma.
Then something miraculous happened. He dumped me. By e-mail. After 1 ½ years together. I opened my work e-mail to find it one abnormally sunny Tuesday morning. I will spare you the narcissistic immature blatherings about selfishness; when I had driven him and his mother to their jobs countless times, bought groceries, found and got her two cute cats to keep her company, Yoda and Obi Wan (who I miss all the time.)
My best friend made us an emergency lunch date, and met me at Whole Foods to go over the blow by blow. But I was already calming down. It was January in MA, and it was 60 degrees. That is quite a rarity in New England. We talked, made a strategy for the evening (getting drunk and watching Buffy.) I managed to make it through the day and evening, including a trip to his house for all my stuff. He wouldn’t even come downstairs to see me. His mom was our proxy. Mature, right? Confirmed my suspicions about the whole thing.
We sorted the stuff back at my best friend’s house. I told her to burn most of it, stuffed animals and the like. If he was done with me, I was done with him.
We played hooky the next day and I went out and got a new guinea pig. Who doesn’t love guinea pigs? And I was single, I needed a new man in my life. I wasn’t ready for a dog, but I could handle a guinea pig.
Then Heath Ledger died. That very week. And my break up seemed insignificant. I had loved him since Roar, the awful Aussie syndicated sci-fi show. How could my stupid relationship compare to the loss of such a man? If he could die so suddenly what was I doing at a mutual fund company still living at home? I had $5,000 in the bank and no more excuses.
My friend Isaac and I always swore we would head to Hollywood after college. (I spent a semester interning at small film companies my junior year and got the LA bug.) We would save up living at home and head to the bright lights and big city. Then we fell into relationships. But now I was free. I could go back.
The whole world blossomed in front of me. I joined a gym. I set the goal. I found a roommate. I shopped for jobs. I hemmed and hawed about driving or flying and shipping my stuff.
And I realized, I had 5 months of dating with an expiration date. I could go out and meet people and not have to worry about where it was going! Some guys liked it, some didn’t. But what did I care? I was moving to Hollywood!
One guy didn’t mind at all and on a whim I asked him if he wanted to come across country with me after we had been seeing each other for a little over a month. It was between semesters for him and even though we had only known each other for those few weeks I had never felt so open to possibilities.
We spent seven days having the most amazing adventure. Seven days and nights of driving, sightseeing and sex. He flew home the morning after we arrived, exhausted and road weary. Our goodbye was one of good friends not sure if they would ever see each other again, but knowing they shared an indelible bond of memories.
My first few months in Los Angeles were straight from a bad comedy script. Working on indie horror movies (House of Flesh Mannequins anyone?), getting my car towed, finding furniture on the curb at 3 am and bringing it home on top of a shopping cart.
It has since quieted down, I live in a Los Angeles suburb with a fiancé and two cats doing human resources. It’s not quite the glamour of television and movies. Which turned out not to be for me. (My roommate quite enjoyed working 90 hours a week and sleeping for 4 hours a night.) I was able to quit taking all those anxiety medications.
But to this day, on the edge of 30, I still get that delicious feeling of excitement as I talk about my adventures. My best friend still gets scared for me every time I tell her about an earthquake. I still get giddy over the fact I live near Disneyland, bump into celebrities at the grocery store and crash stranger’s birthday parties.
I moved across the country at the height of the recession, found enough jobs to keep myself fed and a roof over my head, survived mutant cockroaches, and fell in love.
I learned that the best thing about your 20’s is making mistakes, because mistakes can lead to the best adventures you never could have imagined for yourself. Each disastrous relationship is one lesson away from success.