Wednesday, February 18, 2009

1,982 Miles

            I have grown up, not in a small town, or a quiet town.  I grew up in a suburb, Southaven, Mississippi, of Memphis, Tennessee.  I lived in a town where my house was half a mile from my school, which was conveniently half a mile from my work, and was half a mile from my church.  I lived in a place where drama spread like a wildfire in California.  You walked into Shnucks, formerly Sessels, and you knew half the people waiting an hour to check out in isle number seven.  Jackie didn’t care; she was only saving up for a new Harley. 

            My life started in Southaven living in the Savannah Creek Apartments for six months until we found the house I would live in for fourteen years.  It was common to have pool parties, barbecues; the lives of people I thought were normal.           

            After working for a restaurant for four months I graduated from prepping salads, desserts, bread, appetizers; and, I began to make soup du jours, marinara, curry, and Bolognese.  My heart had always been inclined to move to the city of Los Angeles, but now that I wanted to attend Culinary School, it seemed inevitable.  I came to visit with my best friend at the time.  Aside from my random bad habits, I decided to stay up all night before I made my first visit to the never-ending city.  I thought, “What the hell?  I’m going to LA I might as well have fun!”  After misplacing my vehicle, almost missing the flight, and pissing my best friend off, I finally sobered up enough to realize I need to focus on what the hell I was doing.

            We landed and a friend gave me my first tour of the city.  We rode down La Cienega to the city until I saw the Hollywood sign far up on the hill.  In fact, I asked if the sign was as big as a person and realized I should think before I speak.  Dumb ass.

            We drove down Vine to Sunset and took the Sunset Strip into Beverly Hills and back down to Melrose to my friend’s house.  It was then my imagination ran with me to what life would be like here.  The city was unlike any city I had ever been too.  Belem, Brazil was exotic; Petrazavodsk, Russia was cold and bitter.  Venice, Italy was artsy and historic.  This city was crazy.  It was perfect.

            I decided that I would begin school in August.  I had two months to decide whether or not I would make the move or prolong my dreams even longer.  Monica from the Art Institute called me a few days later and informed me I could not begin any classes there because I had already finished my general education classes at the University of Mississippi.  I had two choices: put off schooling until October or make the move in two weeks to start in July. 

It happened.  Next thing I knew I was packing my room, loading my car, crying daily.  I was scared out of my mind!  Sure, I have lived in London!  I have moved away!  This time, I wasn’t coming back.  I spent every night my last week in Oxford anxious, worrying about what the hell I was getting myself into.  I had to convince myself daily that I was doing this for a reason.  I left every person that cared about a sobbing voicemail telling them I would miss them, and I would.

            The night before I left I spent with my best friends.  The next morning I left in tears that only God knows how to shed; saying goodbye to the most important person in my life.  It was the hardest drive I have ever had to start and finish. 

I got to Memphis and picked my father up to join me on the journey to my new life.  My radio was not working in my car at the time.  My dad was also not the most verbally explicit person, so I'll let you imagine how that was going to go.

The first day of driving consisted of my unstable emotions.  I tried every mile marker to not burst into tears and turn my little Jeep Wrangler around to stay in my comfort zone.  After eight hours of excruciating pain we ended up in Oklahoma City at my uncle’s house.  We went to eat with them, talked about my plans, and got some rest for the next day.  Of course, I didn’t sleep well; I woke up repeatedly with urges to call my friends and tell them how much I had already missed them. 

            My dad and I kept traveling.  Texas was plain.  Arizona was the longest state, driving to Flagstaff and down to Pheonix.  Next, was the desert.  I hated my bladder at this point because I felt every twenty minutes I had to use the bathroom.  Four o’clock in the morning rolled around and we ere only in Banning, two hours from Los Angeles.  We pulled over in Palm Springs first, but after an hour of not finding a hotel we ended up at the Days Inn in Banning, but it was just for a few hours of shuteye.  The next morning I woke up and we headed off with chills down my spine.  Two hours later I was back to my new homeland.  


  1. i didn't realize you decided so quickly! I cannot imagine a drive alone in the car with my dad.. awkward central. and without a radio! i can't imagine living in LA, though i have always wanted to, its just tooo much. You lived in London, its completely different. Even though London is the largest city in Europe, you walk everywhere and can get away from people. I don't think you could get away from people in LA. Which is an amazing thought. I can barley stand the crowds of tourists in charleston (mainly b/c the are rednecks and annoying) and in LA they must be insane. But there is always that thought, the sheer joy of excitement being in a place like that! Its like the first time you go to NYC without your parents.. its a rush! And you get that everyday!!! I am so happy for you, that you found your calling and your good at it! lol I know ppl who have found their calling, and they suck at it! I also glad that you have settled in to well.. already rubbing shoulders with hollywood.. *jealous* the only downfall is that i dont ever see you when i come remotely close to mississippi.. thus coming down to some conclusions: 1. next xmas or thanksgiving (whichever one you come home for) char and i will come to oxford and visit 2. I've never been to LA, so its on the list 3. You should vacation in Charleston.. we have GREAT food (some say better than new orleans), great shopping, and great beaches (with warm water.. something that you are lacking on the pacific coast, oh and alligators too! )

    ok i got off on some tangents there.. so umm.. yay for you.. and all that jazz

  2. Love the first post Michael!
    I remember that sobbing voicemail. I saved it for a month! Miss you kiddo.
    Until New Zealand......