Once Upon A Time, I Lived in California.

Once upon a time, I lived in California.

I decided to move there towards the end of my sophomore year, at A&M in College Station, in 2015, and I freaking did it. I packed up my car, I said “See you in two months” to the people I loved, and on October 21st, I left. Come 6 months later, I moved back.

When I decided to leave, I felt a lot of things. I felt embarrassment, guilt, shame, and more than anything, I felt like I was a failure. Talking about California was painful for a very long time, but something I’m a firm believer in, is transparency and vulnerability, so I want to share my story. The full story.


In the months leading up to the move, I was all sorts of anxious. My appetite had suddenly disappeared, and I constantly felt sick to my stomach because of the nerves I had, but I was still so excited, nonetheless. At the time, I was so busy getting prepared for the move, that I didn’t have a lot of time to just sit. I was finishing up my Associate’s degree, trying to make the rounds on seeing and spending time with my friends and family, and then there was packing- which was another ordeal.

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The move itself was great. My sweet momma and I made a three-day drive to Los Angeles, and it was wonderful. We listened to my ridiculous music, Mindy Kaling audiobooks, laughed a lot, and talked about my plans. The drive was beautiful; Arizona at sunset is something else. Once we made it to LA, we hit the ground running with bed shopping, numerous Ikea trips, and spent the first night drinking champagne on the floor of Erin and I’s kitchen. Everything was great. I look back on these moments, and it really does warm my heart. Because, this move wasn’t all bad, there was a lot of good, and I have Erin and Sweet-Diane to thank for that.

After about a week, Erin and I were settled, and Mom left. We cried as I drove her to the airport, and then laughed because we felt like this was the most dramatic airport drop-off that either of us had ever had. But everything was fine! We were FINE. Just emotional, but what else is new???

Living with Erin made my life easier. We would eat Chick-fil-a on our couch, watch Criminal Minds, and quote John Mulaney until 11pm, because I would go to bed early like a grandma. We would go on short outings, then decide we were tired, and come home to lay in our play clothes for the rest of the day. She taught me how to cook, she revealed to me that I love bruschetta, and she always knew when something was wrong with me. Erin knew how to love me, and on days when I was sad she would bring me bubble wrap to stomp on, churros to eat, and she would listen to the songs I wrote. Erin took care of me so well, because she knew what I was dealing with. She had moved to LA about a year and a half before me, so she totally understood what I was going through. (Erin, I love you so dang much.)

The first thing that made living here hard was that I had too much time on my hands. The way LA Film School worked, is that a student would have one class (maybe two every once in a while) a month, for three days a week, for about 3 hours at a time. I would have class Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, from 5pm-8pm, and that was it for me. If you know me, I like to be busy, and if you know anything about attending Texas A&M University, you know that taking even just 3 classes can keep you busy as h*ck. This was a switch for me. In result, I started to feel myself getting sad kind of often, because I wasn’t preoccupied all the time. To combat this, I tried working out, but if you know anything about being sad, and getting yourself to actually go and do anything at all-  it’s an upward climb- with falling rocks, thunder, earthquakes, and everything else.

By this time, I was about a month in, and began to just focus on the only thing that kept me going, which was counting down the days until Christmas break, when I got to come home (4 weeks). I spent my time keeping up with my people back home, I would talk to them for hours at a time just so I wouldn’t feel so far away. I knew that I was homesick, but I didn’t realize that I was sinking so low. My appetite hadn’t improved, if anything, it had only gotten worse; I specifically remember a day where all I had to eat was a cheese stick. A freaking cheese stick. I dropped about 15 pounds by the time I came home for break.

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(September 2015 vs. December 2016)

The second thing that made living here hard, was the lack of fellowship I found. Before moving here, I had just come from working at Camp Allen, and living with 23 of my closest friends. I went from being surrounded by a community that loved Jesus and loved each other, to being almost completely alone. I started church shopping, and ended up trying 4 different churches: an Episcopal church, and 3 non-denominational ones. But, nothing seemed to fit. They were beautiful churches, with kind people, good worship, and messages I believed in, but nothing felt right. To be completely honest, I didn’t feel sought out when I was in any of them. I can recognize that comparison is the thief of joy, and counter-productive, but nothing measured up to what I had in Texas. At almost every church I had ever gone to back home, as soon as you walk in the door, you are greeted and sought after to be involved in whatever the community has going on (Bible studies, house church, etc), and I wasn’t chased in Los Angeles. I just wanted to be wanted by people. I could feel myself drifting further and further from Jesus. This isn’t because of the churches. This is because I was high-tailing it away from Him.

At this point, it was getting harder and harder to do things. My friends from school would invite me to go out to eat, or to just hang out, but the idea of going anywhere at all sounded miserable. I wasn’t sleeping well anymore- I would wake up 3-4 times a night, eating was a challenge, and I would call my mom every few days just crying because I missed home so much. However, I was so close to heading home for the break, that I did my best to ignore all of these things, and tried to focus on just making it to my trip.

Three weeks in Texas went by way too fast, and it filled my soul back up. But, before I knew it, I was going back to California. Over the break, I had friends and family ask me how everything was, and I would smile and reply “It’s going alright, I’m still settling, and I miss home a lot.” I said this for a number of reasons.

  1. I was in hella denial that this wasn’t going very well.
  2. I didn’t want to believe that this wasn’t right for me.
  3. Everyone was so excited for me, and I felt like I was letting them down.
  4. I thought that maybe things would get easier at some point, hopefully.

If I was honest with them, I would’ve said something like this:

“I’m doubting myself a lot, and I feel lonely all the time.”

“I miss my mom and my dog constantly, and cry every other day.”

“In N’ Out isn’t as good at Whataburger, and this ISN’T WHAT I WANT ANYMORE.”

“I need help. I want to come home.”

But, alas, I did not. I did my best to suck it up, and keep doing what I was doing. Not to be misleading- my close friends knew that I was struggling; I have never been the type to suffer in silence- I lean on people. But, I wanted to appear to my outer circle of people, specifically on social media, like I had it all together, like I was perfectly fine.

The last three months were the worst. Getting out of bed for anything was a challenge. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I didn’t want to see people, going to class was the last thing I wanted to do- and I would skip some days, and just lay in my room with all the lights off doing nothing. There was a day when I had a surge of energy- something that didn’t happen often, and I somehow stumbled upon a riding stable’s website that wasn’t too far from my Burbank apartment. Horses were a bit of an obsession growing up for me, and I used to love riding. In a moment of “here goes nothing”, I gave them a call, and signed up to start taking lessons again. It was random, but it was totally God.

This gave me a sort of life that I hadn’t felt in a while. It sounds so silly, but getting up early in the morning, driving 40 minutes out to Topanga County, and driving through those mountains to get to this place, brought a flurry of warmth to my heart. I needed it. Then, it just so happened that after my first lesson, they told me they were looking for a weekend office manager, and before I knew it, I had a job.

Doing this, I’m sure, is what helped me through my last months here. I would answer phones, schedule rides, and when I had spare moments, I’d walk next to the stalls of these ridiculously expensive horses, and give them a million pets. My co-workers were wonderful, and were sweet friends to me from the very beginning. Being there, and getting to ride for an hour helped me forget what I was dealing with.

In addition to this job, something that helped was my spiritual director. Some of you might know her, and if you do, you love her. Molly Carr had my back through all this. Before my move, we would meet once a week for coffee and talk about anything and everything. The words I’m about to use to describe Molly don’t even do her justice, I wish that they could carry just what she meant to me during this season. She was a listener, an encourager, she pushed me when I needed to be pushed, and she sat and supported me when I needed to figure things out for myself. She would answer when I called her sobbing, she would talk to me for much longer than she needed to, and Molly pointed me to Jesus.

Still, despite the support, the job, and the love I received from my sweet friends back home, I felt empty.

Minor recap:

Still calling my mom crying constantly.

Struggling to eat, sleep, and go anywhere at all.

I had made it through 7 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, 2 Seasons of Arrow, 1 Season of Flash, and 6 Seasons of Criminal Minds- THIS IS NOT HEALTHY.

(Although, you have to admit, this is kind of impressive.)

Now, a mother can’t listen to her child cry constantly, so, Sweet-Diane flew out to Los Angeles to do some “mothering”. She cleaned everything you could imagine, we caught up with my cousin, and she did what she does best: She loved me. She had barely been in LA an hour, and I looked at her while we were laying in my room, and just burst into tears. I told her that my heart was hurting, that I didn’t feel like myself, and that I didn’t want to be here anymore. I told her that I was in pain, and she listened, and listened. We talked for a long time, I called my Dad, and then we talked for a long time. But, by the end of her visit, we decided that it was best for me to move home, and try going to school in Texas again. Telling Erin was hard, but she’s the kind of friend that puts you before herself. She loved me despite my need to leave, and she never once made me feel guilty.

Telling people that I was coming home was terrifying at first. I thought they would tell me to “try harder”, “give it more time”, or even “get over it”. But, the response I got was the opposite. They were excited. They didn’t even really care to know the reason I was leaving, because all they were just happy I was coming home. One by one I called them, and told them about the move, and I got this same response every time. I feel silly now for thinking that they would be anything but enthusiastic for my return.


 

After I moved home, I avoided people for a while. I didn’t want to talk about California, and if anyone ever brought it up, I would give a short response, and try to move to the next topic. Like I said, I was embarrassed, and ashamed.

But, how silly are these feelings? It took courage to move, and it took even more courage and humility to move back. Why be ashamed? Why be embarrassed? I cared so much about what people thought, and they didn’t even think these things!

(Also, there’s that whole thing about how the only opinion of me that matters is Jesus’, and He thinks I’m brave, cool, smart, and not lame.)

So, this is what happened. In uncomfortable, gross, honest, transparency, this is how I felt, this is how I acted, and this is why I made this decision over a year ago. It’s been the best choice I’ve made in a while, and I definitely believe that Jesus has known for a long time that I was going to end up here. All in that dude’s plan, man.

Moving to Corpus Christi felt like coming home for the first time in a long time. Jesus placed me here, and then laid gift after gift at my feet. He gave me a house, He gave me roommates, He gave me a community, and He gave me peace. He is a Father that provides, and it took losing almost everything to actually trust this.

When I started to pray about moving to Corpus, I asked Jesus for answers, and it felt like I was only getting radio silence for weeks. But, after living here for eight months, I realize that He kind of did give me an answer. He just didn’t say “No.”

 


 

Okay this was super long, my bad.

Fun fact: I’ve been getting over a cold for like two weeks, and can’t really hear anything out of my ears- like, it’s all muffled and stuff, it’s not very fun. But despite it feeling weird, it also feels kind of cool.

Also, I have a show this Friday in Corpus Christi at Scuttlebutt’s from 6-9, so if you’re in the area, or want to be. Come see me!!!!

Also, thanks for reading all of this, and for taking interest in my life.

Also, I love ya. Make sure that you floss, because I started doing it, and it’s like, really good for you.

-Tori

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Once Upon A Time, I Lived in California.

  1. Hey Tori. Been a while! I have to be honest, for that reason I almost didn’t read this post, but it caught my attention because ya girl is going through some stuff right now. I relate super hard to a lot of this, and I just wanted to say that I appreciate you telling us your story. It makes me a little more hopeful that soon things will be okay! ❤ ❤ ❤ Donna

    Like

    1. Hey Donna!
      Thank you for the honesty. It’s has been a while. Dude, life is hard, and muddy seasons are the worst. Things will be fine, and getting through the valley can be the hardest part, but you won’t be there forever, and that is a guarantee.

      Like

  2. Tori,
    I loved reading this entry! Thank you for sharing your heart and your faith in Jesus Christ. I admire you. Much Love to you and Diane! I am so proud of you.

    Like

  3. Tori. I love you and appreciate your honesty. I even know someone else that has just gone through a similar experience. I’m proud of you for following your dream. Sometimes dreams don’t pan out the way you want. Proud that you recognized that!!!! Us selfish people are glad you’re back in Texas !

    We will be in corpus for a wedding this weekend. Unfortunately we don’t arrive until Saturday evening. Maybe we can see you on Sunday??

    Like

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