Our cute patio, where I would sip wine and read, any time of year.

Our cute patio

I never wanted to move to California in the first place.   My husband had been accepted– tuition free– to the MFA program at Cal State Long Beach.  In New York, my career was humming along, and I was surrounded by friends.  California, with its endless sunshine and cheery, beautiful people, seemed surreal.

“You’re going to love it,” people warned, people who had lived there, people who had moved kicking and screaming, just as I was about to do.  I doubted them all.  We loaded up Andre’s mother’s (ancient) car and drove cross-country.  Andre gamely tried to make the experience as much fun as he could, and I played along.  We’d always wanted to drive across the country!  But after days in the car, the fun began to wear thin.  A sense of dislocation set in, intensified by our failure to find a suitable place to live.

The Spanish Colonial Library down the street.

The Spanish Colonial Library down the street.

But finally we found it:  a two bedroom for $1300 a month, unheard of in New York City.  We didn’t even need the second bedroom, not yet.  It had a teeny tiny outdoor patio and laundry on-site.  It was three blocks from the ocean, two blocks from Bixby Park and its weekly farmer’s market, and one block from the library, where I spent a lot of time.  Nearby Fourth Street was lined with coffee shops, thrifts stores, wine bars, and our favorite art theatre.  I made a project out of decorating the apartment with flea market finds and Target sale bin steals.

Friends who came to see us!

Friends who came to see us!

My friends came to me.  Broadway touring companies play both LA and Costa Mesa, and we were comfortably situated between the two.  Everyone who came through stopped by to see us.  And I didn’t realize how many friends Andre and I had that already lived in LA.  But still I missed New York.

When I booked the Billy Elliot tour, I was relieved.  Grad school kept Andre very busy, so I was home alone a lot.  I had finished decorating and my unemployment was running out.  I began to fear that I would have to work in a restaurant, which represents the absolute pits for me, the antithesis of where I want my life to head.  So I jumped at the chance to leave.

I began to miss Long Beach almost right away.  On hiatus from tour, I returned to New York and was surprised to find that I hated it:  the noise, the crowds, the crazy people.  What had once seemed sophisticated and exciting now seemed pretentious and neurotic.  Tour ended and I came back (pregnant) to Long Beach, and I fell even more in love with California.

After she was born and after Andre finished school, we felt a little unmoored.  We worked steadily through the summer, but went through a dry spell in August that left us shaken, unsure of whether to stay or go.  Out of the blue and without auditioning, Andre got the offer to do the Grinch back in New York.  The same day I found out I had booked Big Fish at Musical Theatre West.  We decided I would do the show, and then we would move back.

While I loved the ocean and the farmer’s market, not to mention the Vietnamese food and the Olympic lap pool, I didn’t expect to love the theatre community so much.  I didn’t expect such a warm embrace.  I didn’t expect so much support from our friends in Long Beach.  Puddin’ had a million terrific sitters.  I started teaching ballet and private voice lessons at studios within walking distance from where I lived.  I began working with a theatrical agent I adored, and a commercial agent who worked tirelessly to get me auditions.  Things were picking up for me!  But we were already scheduled to leave.

We’ve been back in New York for a little over three months, and I am finally admitting that I hate it here.  I do!  What a relief!  I hate it!  I’ve started begging Andre to move back.  I have no commercial agent, and my NY representation has barely lifted a finger.   My LA agent has been wonderful, but it’s clear they want me to move back.  Instead of teaching voice and ballet, I’m working at that dreaded restaurant.  I hate it with a passion I had forgotten I had.  Every day I feel like I am slipping down a wall into depression.  I try not to think about California, but it’s impossible.  Every time I go into the grocery store and see what passes for produce, every time I go to the Equity building and see a million actors lining up for some $300-a-week job in the middle of nowhere, every time Puddin’ wakes us up in the middle of the night in the one bedroom we now share, I am reminded of how good we had it.  And I miss it so much.