Growing up in a small town as a Jehovah’s Witness, my mother tried to keep me semi-sheltered from life outside of what I was taught to believe. My father just went along for the ride. At the age of 18, after barely graduating high school (due to boredom), I left the very next day, in 1988, in my parents tiny truck with a friends brother in tow, and moved to Los Angeles from Oregon. I moved to the literal, on a map, this is it Los Angeles. We started out as four in a 1-bedroom which turned into six, living in the “Spanish area” which had the Korean police department about 3 blocks away. It was quite a change from what I grew up with, but I was ready for it. I wanted to go out and experience life. I assure you, I did. I got a job at a record store, part time, and barely made enough to eat…but, I didn’t care, I was free. I lived and worked in a grimy area of the city, but for the first time in my life I felt like I could breathe.
One of my friends and I moved to another apartment in the south part of Downtown Los Angeles a couple of months later – this time it was three in a studio, near the Los Angeles River and the Jewelry District. I was in Los Angeles for a total of six months. The amount of things I experienced in this time was enough to write a small book, and I’m grateful to this day for that. I wouldn’t change the being broke and not getting enough to eat, missing out on a crazy rave (and what would have been my first and only experience with heavy drugs) because my instincts took over, meeting a man I adored only to find out he practiced Voodoo and wanted a wife to compliment him, or the number of people I met that I’m still in touch with to this day. I found myself in Los Angeles. I woke up. I realized that I didn’t have to be what I was molded to be. I realized I could be who I was born to be, which was far from what I was “trained” to become.
I bought myself a ring in the jewelry district about a month before moving back home to Portland. I wore it on my ring finger for years – a solid gold wedding band. I married myself in Los Angeles, and told myself this when I put it on. I gave into myself and found myself, and I wouldn’t change that experience for the world…and I know I’m blessed because so many others aren’t allowed to experience life once they turn “of age”.