We left our hotel in Addis Ababa at 5:30am and waited in line for a german bakery to open, where we'd get a week's worth of pastries and our morning's breakfast and then begin the drive. We'd watch the sun rise over the city, leaving it behind us and once the buildings ended the land opened up on all sides.
I moved to LA in February of 2008. I was in a hotel room in Tennessee when Heath Ledger died, I drove through a hail storm in Arkansas with my shoulders tensed at my ears, I marveled at the wind turbines as we cruised west on the 10, through the desert, inching towards the sea.
The last seven years have been so full. I have lived a few lives here in LA, I've changed jobs and apartments and somehow grown into this woman that my fifteen year old self would recognize, be proud to know. The in-betweens, less so.
In 2012 I started spending time in Northern California - helping two friends plan their wedding - and I fell in love. First with the air, then the trees and the beaches, then with the roads and the stones and the cities on the Bay. I dreamed of moving, I visited often, I built a business with my eventual life up there in mind. If you've ever wondered why I've been offering free travel throughout California since 2013, this is it.
In the winter of 2014, I decided it was time. Then I met Charlie. In LA. And I knew that I could love him well, and I thought that he might love me well, if we gave ourselves the time. Oh, and work was piling up here. And so I stayed.
If you don't know Charlie: he's very nice and he used to roast coffee. Blue Bottle bought the company he roasted for a few months after we started dating, and he became a full-time coffee buyer. We loved "commuting" to Oakland together - I'd drive up to shoot a wedding and he'd tag along and spend time at HQ. We'd visit with my friends, and his family, and we grew into each other and into our little double-citied life.
We moved into a lovely little apartment on the beach in Venice together. We surf and drink coffee and make dinners and listen to the sounds of a never-quiet street as we fall asleep at night. It's really lovely. A dream. But work is piling up in Oakland. A couple months ago, we decided it was time to head north.
So this is an end for me, and a beginning. On August 30th I'll pack up my belongings and I'll try out a brand new city in a part of California that has always felt like home.
And in the meantime, I'll take in as much as I can, and I'll share it with you here. So keep coming back for more tiny, visual love letters to LA.
Below: the morning of July 9, Venice Beach Pier with my favorite Elli P.