According to my social media feed, 5 years ago today I was unexpectedly looking for a new place to live in Los Angeles. "Preferably Weho. Safe & quiet. $600-700," I posted. My first thought was, "what kind of West Hollywood slum was I expecting for $600?" Then I pondered how much everything can change in just 5 years.
I had only been in LA for a few months. My Nashville life crumbled after a record deal crashed and burned "Behind The Music" style, so I did what most people would do in that scenario. I started dating a younger man and moved us to Hollywood to start a career in stand up comedy. I wasn't thinking clearly. The record deal had taken well over a decade to land and when it fell apart I was simply lost. The younger boyfriend had really big pecs. You guys. Big. I was blind.
Turns out, I wasn't too bad at the comedy thing. I won an amateur contest at The Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd and soon after was regularly performing in legendary standup clubs around town. The relationship part, however, was bombing. Turns out, big-pec boyfriend was a Pandora's box of repressed homosexual guilt. He started taking the edge off with a nightly bottle of cheap vodka. Or two. He would wake the next day with no memory of leaving every burner on the stove blazing or of peeing on the floor.
I never quite knew what tragedy awaited me when I came home at night. On one of the worst evenings I walked in to him weeping; he had broken a glass and blood was everywhere. He was propped up by the record player holding a towel to his foot. Carol King was playing loud enough to rattle the windows.
Soon it was revealed he had taken up a secret West Hollywood boy on the side (Who, now that I'm remembering it all, also had strangely large pecs. Curious.) and that was finally enough for me to move out of that torturous scenario.
I never found a new cheap room to rent. Instead I packed up my car and drove the hell away from there. The last time I saw him was in my rear view mirror. He was standing in the yard with defeated posture watching me drive out of sight.
On the long trek back to Nashville I noticed, also in the rear view mirror, that my hair had turned a little grey.
It's funny, how an experience so painful and stressful now barely causes a pang. That's the merciful thing time does to us, I suppose.
I rebuilt my Nashville life complete with a new record deal on the horizon and a man who treats me with more kindness than I've ever known. We got engaged shortly before the SCOTUS decision. We have the most tranquil home.
I look back at that heartbroken version of me escaping Los Angeles 5 years ago, and then look forward knowing with certainty that anything is possible. Everything can change in 5 years.