After three plane rides, about 16 hours of travel time, one missed flight, and one short stay at a Comfort Inn in Atlanta, GA, I am finally home in Los Angeles. It is officially Spring here. The flowers in my yard are all blooming, it's sunny with clear skies and a perfect 68 degrees, and the scent of jasmine is filling the air. Ahhhhhh, Los Angeles. It's good to be back. I've spent the last two days catching up on sleep and figuring out how to fix my too-much-time-in-the-sky damaged hair.
It's so frizzy... I'm sure a box of light brown Natural Instincts hair color will solve the problem. It usually does.
My trip to Italy was one of those life-changing experiences. When I went to Sundance Film Festival in January, a friend of mine said that there is the you that existed before Sundance, and there is you after Sundance. I definitely felt some of that, but my trip to Italy was the trip that really changed me.
It was my first time really traveling in a foreign country. I've cruised to Mexico, but on a trip like that, you only stay in the country for a few hours. I know what you're thinking. Most people travel to other countries in college or immediately after high school. I'm a late bloomer in this department. In college I had to work a lot, and all of my time and money went to school. There wasn't anything left for travel. Now that I am finally established, it's nice to finally get this experience.
I see why foreign travel is such a valued experience. The struggle to communicate taught me compassion for new immigrants in the U.S. You've got to really wanna live somewhere to work that hard to communicate... It took a lot of energy out of me just to speak! When I got home, I felt relieved to not have to work so hard to get the words out...
On my trip, there were six different personalities. My husband, my in-laws, my mother, my brother in law and his partner, and me. For two weeks we were together, and you can imagine the struggle that can come up when you have a soldier, a peacenik, a tea-party republican, and a quiet artist among several other personality traits traveling from Florida to Europe... There were a few struggles, but I learned how to hone in on my conflict resolution skills learned from three years of working in a Domestic Violence shelter, as well as the calm focus I have developed from yoga, martial arts, and meditation. It was truly a spiritual experience learning how to stay cool when someone said something about how certain races should stop producing... I wasn't always successful, but by the end of the trip, I looked back and thought I did alright.
There was beauty everywhere in Italy. From Lavello to Rome. Everywhere. On the people, the buildings, the trees, the streets, the clothing, the simple food... If I spent too much time thinking about it, I got sad thinking about how America compares... But then I think about California, and how I fell in love with it's beauty seven years ago when I came here for the first time.
So how have I changed? I had a lot of time to think about what is really important to me. The Italians seem to already know. Love, art, music, philosophy, family (whatever that means to you), good weather, simple food. For a few years, I have tried to figure out what direction I will take. After finally starting to feel like I really live in Los Angeles, and no longer feeling like I am simply adjusting, it has felt like a new chapter is emerging in my life.
I have never been a materialistic person. Going from upper class to broke at a young age taught me how to value the free things in life. In L.A. it is easy to get caught up in wanting more, more, more. It's a competition to see who can drive the coolest car, own the biggest house, have the most sophisticated haircut, wear the most expensive clothing labels. I want nothing to do with it. I only want to live a life dedicated to music, learning, philosophy, friendship, and love. Luckily, it is a well kept secret that Los Angeles is actually home to a large population of sophisticated thinkers and artists. Most of the world sees this place as a plastic wasteland of materialism, but that is simply not true.
In Rome, it rained a lot, and I spent many days dreaming of the running I would do in the sunny hills of my neighborhood and the slow driving I would do, which is more than accepted here. On my first day back, I was welcomed by my students who are so supportive of me. We spent every lesson freely creating music, and nothing music theory related was said. The parents all smiled and said it was good to have me back. That laid back attitude is classic here. Even though I am in love with Italy, and I will definitely be going back, and it taught me so much, the truth is I love Southern California and Los Angeles. I am so glad to be back. Los Angeles, I am yours!