“I’m 25 and indefinitely moving to California with what’s in my car.”
On a brisk, December afternoon with temperatures barely peeking out of the 30s, Abbey Daugherty greets me in the Amarillo airport with a big smile across her face. I pick up my pace to give her a breathless hug and excitedly exclaim, “I’m here!”
Abbey and I were housemates back in college, and to be completely honest, we were incredibly skeptical of one another. She basically viewed me as Bubbles from the Powerpuff Girls, and I viewed her as the stereotypical “no fun” RA. But through a traumatic invasion of fruit flies and a near death experience by mixing KaBOOM! and Bleach together, we quickly became best friends. We broke a lot of misconceptions, but mostly, we accepted our differences.
Fast forward four years, and we meet in Amarillo to begin an adventure of epic proportions. Abbey is moving to Los Angeles.
Thursday, December 31st
It felt so symbolic to be packing up Abbey’s red CRV with suitcases and boxes on the very last day of 2015. Her car is packed to the gills, and she tries to make more room by shoving hiking boots, a traditional popcorn maker, and a guitar case into any space that will hold it. As she continues to elbow and cram more things into her backseat, I ask, “What’s one thing you made sure you didn’t forget to pack?” She turns around and with a proud smile replies, “A crock pot. It’s my ticket to adulthood.”
The whole idea of moving to Los Angeles intrigues me to no end. You hear of people doing it all the time, but you rarely hear the process. What are the steps you need to take? What exactly do you need to plan? As I begin to bombard Abbey with my questions, she responds back, “Planning my move has been easy and difficult … I’m a really big planner, so I think a lot of long-term, and I think a lot of the steps that I need to take to get there.” When I ask her what are some of the easy things in planning have been, she says, “It makes it easy in the fact that I’m resting knowing that this is my new home…It just feels like the next step in my journey.”
Friday, January 1st
At precisely 5:00am, Abbey and I wake up to get ready for our first long day of driving. The night before, Abbey and I stayed up talking and laughing into the wee hours of the night, and unfortunately, that meant that we had 3 hours of sleep under our belts. It wasn’t our smartest decision we’ve ever made.
As we pull out of the driveway at 5:53am, Abbey looks over at me and exclaims, “I think this is the latest I’ve ever left!” Abbey is an “early bird gets the worm” kind of girl when it comes to road trips.
By 8:00am our stomachs start loudly demanding food, and I begin rummaging through the snack pack that Abbey prepared. As I start digging through the bag, she says, “I have trail mix and Slim Jims. Breakfast of champions.”
We stop for lunch at a small diner in Milan, NM (aka Small Town, USA), and we devour our food like we haven’t eaten in days. It was barely 11:00am. Road trips apparently make you hungry.
Between mouthfuls of my bacon cheeseburger, I ask her my more serious question, “What’s something about you that would surprise most people?” She looks at me and rolls her eyes. “I don’t know” she says. “You should answer this!” I laugh and begin coaxing her for an answer. Finally she responds, “I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. It’s probably one of those things like people see me and they think, ‘oh, she’s got it all put together – she’s really happy and you know where she is in life and what she’s doing, and it’s true. But it’s like … my little heart … arrrrugh!” squeezes fist “Just like that.”
When we finally make it to our accommodation for the night, Abbey looks at me and states, “Nothing about this feels real.” She’s actually doing it. She’s moving.
By 9:15pm we’re completely spent and are both fast asleep.
Saturday, January 2nd
As we make our way towards Los Angeles on Highway 10, I shoulder shimmy to the 187th truck driver we pass as I yell along to Taylor Swift’s lyrics, “Nice to meet you, where you been? I could show you incredible things.” Luckily we’re driving too fast to ever face these strangers again. Gotta love road trips.
Abbey stands by her statement that, “if you’re going to take a road trip, take Meagan Tilley.” I’m not sure if she was referring to my stimulating conversation, my solid dance moves to Justin Bieber, or my awesome job of singing Ai Se Eu Te Pego in Portuguese. But whatever she’s referring to, I take it as a high compliment.
After making such an arduous trek across half of the United States, it felt more than a little surreal to finally arrive in Los Angeles. We do a quick meet with Abbey’s new (and incredibly awesome) housemates, move her things out of her car and into her new room, and set out to find a late lunch.
As we sit at the outdoor patio of Blaze Pizza, I turn to Abbey and ask, “What’s one thing you’re looking forward to the most about living in Los Angeles?” She answered without hesitation, “I’m really looking forward to having deep community within Antioch. I think that’s really important in any church … both speak into somebody’s life but then also be able to get to learn from them as well.”
Sunday, January 3rd
The sole reason for Abbey’s move to Los Angeles is to help with Antioch Fullerton, a church plant from the main campus located in Waco, TX. After sitting through the service that morning, I could instantly tell why Abbey had such a heart for this church. They’re such wonderful people.
I had the privilege of meeting one of Abbey’s good friends Johanna Six, the worship leader at Antioch Fullerton. Johanna is one of those people who make you feel safe. I instantly felt calm and at home in her presence. Like seriously, what an amazing quality to have.
Jo had made the same move like Abbey last year, so I ask her over lunch, “What was the hardest part about settling into life out here?” Johanna, who is definitely an internal thinker, replies after a second, “The loneliness of being out here when everyone else is already in motion.”
Jo, Abbey, and I spend the afternoon in a lazy lull on the Corona Del Mar beach snuggled under warm blankets and around the bonfire. It was our first full day in California, and California treated us well.
Monday, January 4th
As we drive down Highway 1 with the windows rolled down and the wind whipping our hair, I watch the Pacific waves roll onto the beach. All I can do is smile as I think, “This is Abbey’s new life. This is her new normal.”
Thanks to Yelp, we find the most delectable fresh and organic restaurant called Malibu Farm Pier Café. I sip on my rose lemonade while Abbey nurses her Vietnamese coffee. We watch the surfers out in the distance catch the early afternoon waves, and I’m certain we found bliss.
After our cheeks turn a rosy pink from the sun, we head over to Santa Monica in search of some 5-star gelato and discover Dolcenero. I choose the classic hazelnut, and Abbey gets adventurous with the wildberry and lemon sorbet.
And then we walk. We walk around quiet neighborhoods getting lost in the serenity and charm of Santa Monica. The palm trees slightly sway in the soft breeze, and for a split second, I forget I’m not in Spain.
I asked Abbey once how her view of Los Angeles would be different from others by not pursuing a career in Hollywood. She thought for a moment and replied, “Well, I’m not in it for the fame.” We then obviously proceeded to sing Jessie J’s “It’s not about the money money money…” and fell into fits of laughter.
She then answered with seriousness, “It really frees me to live without a façade or live without such a conscious effort of what others are thinking but really being able to love people. It frees me to enjoy it – like enjoy the beauty of the stuff around instead of striving to become it.”
Tuesday, January 5th
The rain beats against the outside of Johanna’s cozy home as she prepares a delicious breakfast for us Tuesday morning. The smell of turkey bacon, scrambled eggs, and sautéed mushrooms fill the air, and my stomach growls with approval.
After breakfast, Abbey and I head out to find a used bookstore to pass the time on this dreary, rainy day. We find Bookman in Anaheim, and it is love at first sight. I purchase several paperback books and pray they fit in my carry on luggage. We then head to The Packing House to grab a late lunch.
The Packing House is everything I want my soul to be. Dramatic? Maybe a little. But true? 100%. It’s like a sophisticated and trendy gourmet food court with options as vast and wide as the world. You can get Vietnamese, Japanese, Italian, Indian, organic smoothies, gelato, chocolate, popsicles…. The list just keeps going from glory to glory.
Abbey and I sit down with our steaming ramen and start reflecting on the crazy week that passed. After a pause, I ask her, “What do you hope to have achieved in a year from now?” She immediately exclaims, “Gosh, Meagan! You’re killing me.” brief pause “I haven’t thought just in a year because I’m like, ‘I’m here indefinitely.’ In a year from now…” 20 second pause “I obviously want California to feel like home. All the things that come with creating a home from decorating to knowing people to knowing grocery stores to knowing the ins and outs of parking… The little things in life that we don’t think about until it’s brand new somewhere else.” After a little more reflection, she states with finality in her tone, “As long as I move forward, I’m good.”
Wednesday, January 6th
Yet another day of a torrential downpour greets us, but it has nothing on the gloomy weather in my heart. It is my last day in Los Angeles, and I’m really mourning the loss. We drive to George’s Greek Cafe in Long Beach where I attempt to drown my sorrows in tzatziki. It almost works.
As we made our way to LAX, I ask Abbey in earnest, “So what’s the first thing you’re going to do once I leave?” Abbey responded back sarcastically: “Cry.” But you know what they say – behind every jest is a glimmer of truth.
While I’m flying back to Dallas, I look out of the plane window and think about how Abbey is on her own now – living a whole new life. She’s venturing into a new and exciting adventure. A smile slowly spreads across my face as I recall what she said to me back in Amarillo: “I felt like the Lord said, I’m not sending you alone, but I’m sending you home.”
Have you ever made the move out to Los Angeles? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments!