West Coast Culture Shock

Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest.

Grief is just love with no place to go.

Jamie Anderson

Any large city can feel isolating and callous when you’re new.

…and it doesn’t mean anything is actually wrong with you. It simply takes time, tenacity, vast patience, a lot of laughter, and the ability to forgive/let go and access rest/ease/deep wells of compassion to rebuild from the ground up. To integrate your gifts and skills in a new setting. To commit. To learn from the risks taken. To cultivate relationships and build at the pace of trust. To be fully seen and known.

I came from a small town city where generously holding space for candid and tender reflections, sharing in each others suffering, heartaches, celebrations, and joys was the norm. I quickly-at times abruptly-learned that the patterns of building and maintaining relationships were very different than what I was used to in my previous community, which left me feeling misunderstood and at times alienated in social interactions. I missed the rhythms of affinity and closeness I was used to and grieved the fact that they wouldn’t and couldn’t be the same in such a different place. It took time for me to get to know the underlying aches that weighed on me.

Somewhere on the internet says that after death and divorce, moving and job loss are the most stressful things a person can go through. I went through both of those things–the latter left an especially acute dent in my confidence and sense of respectability as a performer and my dwindling savings account looked back at me with remorse.

Full of feelings that were hard to hold and process at once, I threw myself in house cyphers, desperate to reclaim my sense of joy. I remember one night at Soul Source feeling like there was a bright light leading me to the middle of a cypher and like a baby who is just learning how to walk (or like the baby househead I’m still learning to be), I surrendered with my heart inside out–realizing that the cypher in which I danced was holy ground. I found a home in this form at a time where I felt deeply vulnerable. I’m so excited to continue studying with the brilliant elders and leaders of the LA house scene. If I’m not studying the details of house skills, I’m doing my inner work to show up more courageously–freeing myself to build towards the performer I want to be, liberated in body and spirit.

I’m about halfway through my first year here, and I’m ready to continue what I’ve started.

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