One month in Los Ángeles

It was a complete whirlwind of a summer.

Travel was EVENTFUL, and ambitiously planned.

51+ hour route, over 3,258 miles driven, accompanied by two of my dearest friends I can be my realest self with: Lina and John. I laugh deliriously when I look at this map.

I learned a lot about how to pace my experiences, especially when intensive training, travel, and relocating are all involved. I’ve needed full weeks of recovery. Some days all I could do was go to the laundromat and I was spent. The grocery store was the most overwhelming place my first few weeks here.

Being an empath, and feeling as deeply as I do, the sensation of tenderness and stretching in my heart space is normal for me. But this past season was a different kind of expansion that I couldn’t have prepared for.

I worked hard to have closure with people and communities in Philly. I wasn’t necessarily prepared for the visceral upheaval of travel, training, and transition all jam packed in one season.

Sometimes, no matter how hard we prepare ourselves to enter a new stage in life, we will never be fully prepared for the unknown.

But wow, I’m still processing my awe and gratitude for all that has transpired.

In every city I went to, I was known and cared for, generously offered hospitality and friendship. I had room and board in every city I stayed, entirely through my network of trusted friends peppered around the country.

John and I were both going to the Mystic Soul Conference, so he drove to Chicago with me and even got to meet my niece! I couldn’t believe I said goodbye to him when I drove through Wisconsin. I had a blast in Minneapolis, and I can’t wait to be back. 3 weeks later, Lina and I left St Paul with dozens of tamales from Sarah’s neighbor, Maria. I got to know England’s parents and their sweet pups in Harrisonville, MO.

The Taos Initiative for Life Together was the most magical place Lina and I spent the night. As soon as we got to New Mexico, I felt in my body that I was in Latin America.* I knew instinctually/ancestrally that NM was/is tierra mestiza. I felt the anxiety of the northeast completely swept off my body. We breathed in sweet, piney air, splashed in the creek, and noted the burnt trees between the Cimarron Canyon and Eagle Nest Lake. At Todd’s house, I had seconds of chicken and vegetable Thai curry, we spoke about mysticism and activism, and we worked on the farm in exchange for our stay.

*This land was Mexican once, Indian always, and is. And will be again.

Gloria E. Andaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera

The leg to Tempe, AZ was the most fatiguing for me because of the intense desert heat but we had a fantastic brunch with Leyris. Driving into California felt epic. Lina and I belted our little hearts out to some great dad rock: U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and of course we lived our best femme lives with Janelle Monae, Beyonce, etc. We celebrated the end of our road trip with a direct trip to the Pacific Ocean to wash away our weariness. I’m bummed that the ocean took Lina’s glasses, but wow what a stellar teammate and comrade Lina is. What a formative time this trip was for our friendship. It was a profound journey, and our friendship has been built on the most nourishing kind of depth and fellowship. I believe in abundance and liberation in no small part because of the way Lina lives. She’s one of those emergent strategy-esque woes that you don’t want to live without.

In Los Angeles, it didn’t take me long to find an apartment to sublet, a house to live in, and available projects as a working artist. With my needs being met and my goals in development, things falling into place like they are is a testament to the power of cultivating relationships. I have amazing colleagues and friends here, and I am going to be a more skilled artist because of them. I’m surrounded by the work I see myself in, what I know I will grow into through lots of rigor and discipline. Excellence will be my new ordinary.

With time, the seeds of what I learned from Summer Leadership Institute with Urban Bush Women will show up in my creative work and organizing. Right now, I am committing to not doing things alone. In Philly, I was very independent and almost always did a lot of legwork by myself. With so many bright and talented souls in LA, I know I don’t have to flesh out my creative visions alone. My collaborators are here.

I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. One of my friends said “We need more people like you in the dance community.” Another friend I look up to said “You will be a beautiful and powerful asset to this community.” [actual tears in my eyes]

I’ve already found family through CONTRA-TIEMPO, Primera Generacion Dance Collective, Viver Brasil, and counting. I recognize the energy of South LA, Highland Park, East LA, Pasadena, and it makes me feel at home.

Processing loss and change will be ongoing. But when I say I feel at home, I’m talking about comadre kinda home. Warm-your-soul hugs, cumbia, house music, bboys and bgirls, wine and tacos kinda home. Desmadre dancing as a technique practice kinda home. “I feel like I already know you” kinda home. “Me too, girl!” kinda home. Being one of many brown womxn/femmes trying to reconcile cultural Christianity, Afro Indigenous spirituality, and postmodern mysticism kinda home.

Philly will always be in my soul and roots. But I can already tell LA is the place to shine.

Two of the dancers in this video helped me get my first jobs here. The lead singer helped me find a place to live. I’m training under the dancer who is a rehearsal director. I hang out regularly with the dancer who had a baby this year.

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