Los Angeles, California

In August of 2016, my younger sister, Emily, moved out to Los Angeles, California to pursue her dream of acting and being in the film industry. This is a story you’ve probably heard before; this story is hardly pretty. Moving out to LA has been a struggle for her, but Emily has been making it work. When she first moved out there, she was staying at a friend’s parents house for a few months until she was able to find roommates and their own apartment. She works about five jobs to network and make enough for rent and food. She and I were raised with the same work ethic: do what you gotta do and keep moving forward. Emily’s been out there for over a year, now, and I finally got to visit her during the holidays!

When I first booked my tickets, I thought being in LA for three days would be enough of a little trip. I only had a few days available, and I’ve been wanting to visit my sister and see her LA life (also give the approval of her new tribe - that’s a big sister’s job, after all). However, when I added up the hours I was actually in LA, it was only 48 hours. We sure did a lot in those 48 hours, though.

I flew out early Thursday morning from Dallas, TX and arrived in LA by 8am. Emily was gracious enough to pick me up from the airport, and then we stopped off at her house that she shares with six other people (do what you gotta do, right?) to drop off my stuff before going to the Getty.

The Getty Museum is incredible! Emily and I opted to climb the hill to the Getty - a great leg workout, by the way. When we finally got to the top, we went along some of the lookout spots to see the beautiful sight of the city. As I looked out among the city, I was amazed at just how big LA is, yet everything was compressed and fit into city lines. All the different neighborhoods and sections of the city were able to be compressed into the area. Apart from the lookout, seeing the art collections was a such a gift! Honestly, I can’t name many of the pieces that I saw because there was so much of it - and it greatly ranged in the type and time period of art. They even have a French Neoclassical collection! One furniture collection showed how the French were influenced by Chinese culture; I enjoyed looking at the tapestries that told stories of Chinese princesses, samurai, and traders. Being surrounded by so much art was reflective of the Los Angeles city as a whole: it’s a culture hub. While I was there, I got a glimpse of many different types of people and cultures. This is very different from the town I grew up in which was primarily a caucasian suburb. It’s even different from Austin where there are many different cultures within the city, but it’s primarily caucasian, still.

When Emily moved to LA, she joined The Actor’s Gang. Basically it’s a company that has acting classes and a group that puts on shows throughout the year, and they’re huge into breaking with the fourth wall and interacting with the audience. While I was there, Emily was in a show called the Winter Solstice Pagan Holiday Show. It was a variety show that was inspired from different religions - real and fabricated. I loved getting to see my sister act! You can see how much she enjoys it and how much joy she gets out from it. I saw the show both nights that I was there, and it was interesting to see how two nights can vary greatly with a performance. The first night I saw the performance, was the first night the cast was back together after a few weeks of being off for the holidays. The cast was a little rough, and it didn’t help that the audience that night were more conservative with their interactions with the cast. People clapped and were enjoying themselves, but it’s like seeing the difference between an extrovert and introvert. However, the second night was a lot better for the cast because they got more into their groove again and the audience was much more responsive. Both nights also featured outside acts from the city. The first night was with a trapeze artist and aerial dancer, and the second night was with a magician and two aerial dancers (unfortunately, they were doing two separate acts).

On Day 2 of my trip, I spent a morning visit with Ashley Millar - formerly Davis. Ashley and I have been friends since we were born. There’s probably a photo of us both in diapers somewhere. Ashley and I were raised together in our home church, Nor’Kirk Presbyterian. It was one of those small churches where everyone knows everyone and everyone’s business. We spent days going to each other’s homes for playdates, celebrated birthdays, all that stuff. Ashley was always in dance, though, so as we got older, we weren’t able to hang out as much. She was always chasing after her dream of being a ballerina. She got there. Ashley was formerly a dancer for the Los Angeles ballet until she decided to retire last year after she found out she was pregnant. Ashley and her husband, John, now have their first baby boy, Luke. I went over to their apartment for breakfast that consisted of a cinnamon roll as big as my face and a cup of coffee. Ashley and I then took Luke to a local park. At the park we took a little hike to see a beautiful view of the city, and we fed the ducks. You know there are some people in your life that will always be there? This lady is one of those people. We are in completely different phases of our lives; she’s married with a baby, and I’m not. I do other stuff, like work, hustle, create, grow friendships, etc. but when it really comes down to it, I’m not married with a kid. I’m definitely not saying this is a bad thing. I loved getting to spend time with her and Luke! It was so much fun getting to see how much he’s changed since I met him back in the Summer of 2017. I know Ashley will always be my friend, no matter where we are in life!

The other adventure I had during my last day in LA was supposed to be the observatory, but after driving all the way there, we were instructed to park at the very bottom of the mountain the observatory sits on. Emily was wearing flip flops - definitely not suitable for the two mile walk up the mountain. Instead, we went to grab lunch at Alcove where I had a delicious panini. Alcove reminded me of Austin - locally sourced food and outdoor seating. It was while we were eating, Emily suggested we go to the beach. The beach was also close enough to her theater, so we would be able to make it back in time for her call time. That decision led us to being stuck in traffic for an hour and a half. Emily wanted to show me more of the city, so we drove through the longer way. It was cool to see more of the city, but I was definitely getting a little agitated at my sister. The sun was setting, and I was nervous it would be pitch black by the time we got there. However, we were able to get there in the nick of time! We got to Venice beach with 30 minutes left of light. Watching the sunset across the ocean was beautiful. As soon as we stepped onto the beach, it felt like all my tension and anxiety was good. Looking out over the ocean, I was reminded of how there is so much more out there. I stood in the ocean letting the water rise up over my ankles. It was cold, but I became numb and accustomed to the chill of the water. Watching that sunset and being on the beach, even for only 45 minutes, was the best way to end my California trip.

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