The Hollywood Freeway, A Welcome Home Sign At The End Of Each Day

Hollywood Freeway exit signI remember the feeling I had when I left the Detroit airport on my way to Palm Springs. I was relocating for work; I was so excited and could not wait to leave! I had just graduated from Meredith Manor in West Virginia and had been home for a whole month. After being away for three years, doing my own thing, staying up as late as I wanted, going where I wanted, when I wanted, with whom I wanted, the last thing I wanted was to be under anyone’s rules and I was eager to leave.

Flying off to California, I knew deep down I could go home if and when I needed to, but in reality, why would I need to? I was off to work for a gold Olympic equestrian trainer in California; a dream right? I had wanted to ride, train students, and train my own horses for as long as I could remember and I was off to a great start!

As I was leaving, my family cried tears of joy at the airport because they all knew how much riding meant to me, but they also cried tears of sadness. My mom was a train wreck, as I am the eldest and her only son. I always had more than a bit of an independent streak that ran through my blood; always wanting to leave, and as a kid running off, pretending I was “lost” in the store. As independent as I was, I was also equally determined. In middle school I was told I would have to start paying for some of my riding lessons, and, if I wanted to show horses, I had to cover some of those costs as well. So I got a job. I have had a job since I was 14 years old, and never have I been without one to this day. Well that’s a white lie, I did get fired from one job in college, but only had one month before I had to quit and move back to Michigan anyway, so that does not really count, right? In high school I knew I wanted to leave for school as soon as possible — I didn’t want to be at home, I wanted to be far away. In retrospect, I don’t really know why other than I like adventure, and have always been taught to be self-sufficient. I like the feeling of being able to say I did something; I did that on my own. As I was on my last connecting flight from Phoenix to Palm Springs, not knowing what my life would become in the near future, I was planning to take it one day at a time. I was excited, scared, nervous, but at that exact moment not missing my family. I was on another adventure; I have been known to throw my dice in the air and see where it lands. My mother, being the stickler she is, was always harping on me to not do that: plan, be organized, and for do the “right” thing. Conforming, I always felt, was never my strong point, and to this day I still pride myself on being the “different” one.

Well, I was in for a rude awakening because when I landed in the desert of Palm Springs let me tell you I wanted nothing but to run home real quick. After being picked up at the airport, taken to the home I was staying in, getting unpacked to basically start work and training the next day, I began to feel homesick. I wanted nothing more than to be back at home with my family, sitting in the same living room I grew up in, with the bay window and big oak tree outside overlooking Elizabeth Lake Road right next to the country club. That’s all I wanted; and to hear the five lane street with cars going by all hours of the night, and then get up and see the sign that read “Pontiac Country Club” that has been there my entire life. I wanted to listen to the little scampers of our two dogs, Kelsey and Coujo, running around and barking in the morning after they came in from being outside and getting a treat. That is all I wanted to hear and now I was sitting in my room here in the desert in a place that had no resemblance of who I am. I mean, there were road runners running around next to cactus, not robins singing in trees. The only time I ever saw a road runner before Palm Springs was in a cartoon, for crying out loud. I just turned 21 and although I was legally an adult and had been living for years out of my home state at college, packing and moving away proved to be a big ordeal; a big, scary one that I didn’t think I could handle. So I called my mom crying, but she held it together for me knowing that one of us had to pull it together. She saw this as her turn to help me grow up a bit more. She reminded me of how much I wanted to ride and train, and the opportunities that would come of this, and how exciting it was. She also reminded me that I could always come home, yes, but I had to give it a shot. She reassured me that home is just a flight away, not that big of a deal, and to tough it out for a bit. She was right; by the end of the month I was completely fine. My only friend in the whole state at the time lived about three hours away – far, but not too far that I could not drive up on the weekend to hang out. That was a huge comfort and I began to adjust to my new life.

Fast forward to a new city: I relocated from Palm Springs to Los Angeles, and now I feel very much at home in North Hollywood. I love my apartment; it is a perfect location with great access to everything and anything I want, and like to do. I almost cannot remember what it was like to not live here. Life back “home” seems so long ago and almost not me any longer. A lot has changed since then, I am sure that is why I feel this way. Now that same feeling of wanting to go home, when I think of home it is in my ridiculously overpriced, shoebox of an apartment that gives me the same comfort I once felt in my home back in Michigan. The same feeling I had when I would listen to the cars go by on Elizabeth Lake Road I now enjoy when I hear them pass by on Ventura Boulevard. The same feeling I had when I would see the sign that read “Welcome to Detroit” on the 75 freeway knowing I was twenty minutes from home, I now feel when I am on the 101 passing the 405 that reads Hollywood freeway. After a long day’s work riding horses, and teaching people that is all I want to see. While living in Palm Springs I never thought I would have that feeling again; that feeling of being “home.”

Many things I said I wanted as a kid in some cosmic way have panned out. In high school I wanted to live in New York City; I wanted to be a journalist, ride horses, and take a taxi to work. I wanted to train my own horses and I wanted it all in Manhattan. It is funny how things turn out. I do live in a city, Los Angeles, even bigger than, and pretty far from, NYC, but metropolitan enough. Instead of being a full-time journalist like I thought I would be (along with not being a killer whale trainer, another career I wanted to pursue for a while) I stuck with my first love of horse training and now, wouldn’t change it. Nonetheless, the writing bug has come back and I have written articles about horses that have been published, as well as interviews with top dressage trainers, started a book, and am now training my own horse — a baby, to see where she can go.

That same content feeling of being home here in this completely different environment from what I grew up in now seems completely normal; almost like my “New Normal.” I never imagined this was possible back in early October 2007 when I first landed in an airport in Rancho Mirage California crying hysterically to my mother like a baby, wanting to be home. Now, when I am back in Michigan I get the feeling of wanting to go home — to California. I love my family immensely, but when I visit them I start to miss my home. I miss my bed, my fish, sitting on my couch, and living my routine. When I am driving on the 405 from LAX to the valley, and I see the sign that reads Los Angeles Hollywood freeway I get excited. I am home, and even roadrunners can’t change that feeling.