Goodbye Los Angeles – originally published 15 April 2008

My last day of work in Los Angeles is tomorrow (technically, today), the 15th of April, and I keep getting a lot of “wow, you sure are leaving quickly, huh?” type of comments because my flight to New York is the 16th. But Los Angeles was only a temporary move, so it doesn’t seem like a quick departure to me. What else am I going to do here? Go look at movie star homes? I saved some money, enjoyed the weather and the food, and now it’s time to go. But before I leave, I have to pack.

I’d like to think that I’m a good packer, but I wonder if I’m lying to myself. When one makes a “normal” move, ie: moving to a different town, you pack up all your crap in boxes and go. Of course I’m sure you throw a lot of stuff away and donate and whatnot, but for the most part, you don’t get rid of everything. That’s the big difference when you move across an ocean, especially if you have absolutely no idea how long you’ll be away or where you might end up. So yes, I have a few boxes in my father’s attic with photo albums and comic books. I will leave another box or two at my mom’s house in LA with clothes and shoes – but my reasoning for leaving behind my beautiful shiny black shoes? They’re heavy. I love them, but they’re heavy, so they stay in the US. The goal is to get all of my worldly belongings in two suitcases, each under 50 lbs., and heavy shoes do not make the cut. I won’t be moving books, movies, or photo albums. For the most part, all I’m bringing with me to Amsterdam is clothes, about 1/4th of my shoe collection (which is really hard), and a couple thousand of dollars worth of electronics. It would be nice to think that if I do manage to settle down in Amsterdam, I could have a few boxes sent to me and reclaim some of these items. The hardest things for me to leave behind (other than the shoes) are the pictures that I keep in frames and my wonderful winter coat, which is long and warm and wonderful and completely impractical for Amsterdam in every way. I spent over four hours this past Sunday listening to the Clash very loudly and going through every item I currently own, trying to figure out if it stays or goes… and I’m not done. And have I ever mentioned that when I came to California, I only had two suitcases? I know most of the time I spent packing was really going through paperwork – years of bank statements, old passport copies, plane tickets – but still. I have no idea how that took four hours.

I know those first few weeks that I spend in Amsterdam are going to be really weird – going from a super-structured life in the US to a totally unstructured life in Europe is obviously going to take some getting used to. I have a meeting with some folks in Amsterdam on my first full day there (the 24th), and I admit, having something to do – a place to go and a time to be there – it helps, mentally.

So the first leg of the journey starts with a 6-hour plane ride east. Back to Eastern Standard Time, back to Brooklyn, back home to New York. I’ll spend four days running all over the place, picking up a few last-minute items, trying not to be late to some last-minute appointments, and of course, saying goodbye to friends and family. My time is booked up nicely with dinners and drinks and hopefully, lots and lots of sleep.