After moving to Los Angeles with less than $200 in order to teach women how to rebuild their lives in a new city, I fumbled and fell a few times while trying to become accustomed to west coast living. I'm from Miami, where the weather is always warm, the people are always authentic (and sometimes rude) and everyone says, "Yes, Ma'am" and "No, Ma'am" when speaking to older people.
The skateboard culture in Los Angeles delighted me, the extremely cold weather depressed me but the infinite amount of places and groups to explore in this county astounded me. I did the tourist thing, taking a guided tour of Hollywood where I saw the Hollywood sign for the first time. I became a background actor and strutted with pride when my Mama called me from Miami to say, "I saw you on TV." I even discovered the BDSM community in Los Angeles and I was treated to a buffet of classes, play parties and demonstrations that helped me to accept my kinky side and embrace it in a safe way.
I found myself hopping from one city to the next, living in shared housing spaces I found on Craigslist. Shared housing is a gold-mine for home owners in Los Angeles who realize that with the burgeoning amount of young hopeful actors there is much money to be made. After sleeping on the floor of a stranger's home in Downtown Los Angeles for two weeks, I moved into my first shared living space in Korea Town. The house in Korea Town had 21 people living in it sharing three bedrooms, two bathrooms, one living room and one kitchen. I rented a bunk bed for $325 a month, all utilities included and I loved it there, that is, until the manager announced that the house would be closing down and everyone had to move.
So I moved, again and again and again. Sometimes it was my fault, like the time I moved in with a roommate only to discover that she talked too much for my taste. Other times I had to move because there were problems I couldn't get over like moving to North Hollywood and feeling like I was trapped because I had to take a taxi everywhere I went since the neighborhood was not walkable and the public transportation was unreliable.
After moving six times in 10 months, I made my way to Signal Hill where I rented a room in a beautiful home with a woman and her 5-year-old daughter. I had to move for the seventh time after just two days because in Signal Hill there is no phone signal and I couldn't live in a house without using my phone.
Lucky for me, I found the house where I am now. I live in a sober living house on 4th street near downtown Los Angeles. You may have seen it if you've frequented the V-Room or Ashley's Bar & Grille just two of the four bars within a mile radius. Why they placed a sober living house in a party neighborhood is a mystery to me, but it makes for some pretty hilarious entertainment when the bars close at 2 a.m. and the streets are littered with the happily inebriated.
I don't have a drinking or drug problem, but they allowed me to live here anyway. I rent a bunk bed for $450 a month with all utilities included which is a convenient way for me to explore Los Angeles county without making a firm commitment. I am learning about addiction, relapse and recovery from those who are going through it right now. Of all the houses that I have lived in since moving to Los Angeles, this sober living is by far the most peaceful.
The other shared living spaces I lived in were a hotbed for drug use and partying, arrests and petty thefts. There is no drinking or drug use allowed on the premises and my house manager treats everyone as though we are all family. He barbecues for us, cooks dinner for us regularly and has transformed what I was told used to be a dump into a very comfortable home for those wishing to live in an environment that encourages sobriety.
Just 11 months after I moved To Los Angeles to film a documentary about starting over in life, I finally feel like I may have found a place to call home. I look forward to continuing to explore Long Beach, meeting interesting people, writing about the cool restaurants, bars and community activities here and maybe even making this my new home. I really love Long Beach so far.
I am excited to share with everyone why Long Beach is a prime example of big city living with a small community vibe that I didn't find anywhere else in Los Angeles.