I am Beautiful
I am changed. Events change people, and this quarantine has changed me. I didn’t think I had it in me to change anymore than I already have this past year, but I guess I did. I moved to Los Angeles in November of last year for a change of lifestyle. I wanted to immerse myself in the energy and hustle of LA. When I first got down here between starting a new job, doing my art shows, and going out with friends I was never home. I was on the go, trying new restaurants and experiences. Sometimes I would just drive my car from my home in Redondo Beach to West Hollywood get a coffee and people watch and shop. It was fun. People are friendly and open here, and I would always find someone to talk to, or something to do.
I lived in Portland Oregon for the past 20 years, which was a great place to raise my daughter but as she went off to college I found myself realizing that my marriage had been over for a long time, and Portland had little to offer me anymore. I craved connection and engagement. I had so much inside of me I wanted to express that I felt had been bottled up for years. The action, energy and excitement of LA seemed like the perfect solution. Even the freeways didn’t bother me. Sometimes cars sped by going almost 80 miles an hour, and other times the traffic was at a stand still in gridlock, either way I was never annoyed. I was just happy to be in the action. I loved it here, and woke up every morning with a spring in my step for a new day of adventure.
When I started hearing about the corona virus, I will admit that I half listened. We have never experienced a pandemic in the United States, and so I went on about my life, thinking that things like that only happen in other countries. Then as mid-March rolled around I realized this was serious. Our governor shut our state down and I started working from home. All the restaurants and stores shut down and I was alone in my apartment by the beach. No one could visit me, and I couldn’t go out. I felt a little panicked and I would walk the beach in the afternoon as putting my feet in the ocean always grounds me. Then a week later, the city shut the beaches down. I went on my walk only to find barricades blocking access to the ocean, and police cars patrolling the area. Even if I walked on the sidewalk close to access to the beach, a police car would come up behind me and honk for me to move to the other side of the street.
I had never experienced anything like this. We are fortunate in the United States to have lots of freedom, so for us to be told to stay home and be controlled by police for walking in the wrong place felt scary to me. I started to think back to pandemics in other countries where I would see on the news people in masks, and police blocking off areas of the city. It didn’t register with me. I would turn the tv off and go about my day without thinking much about it. It was just another example of other countries having issues that we didn’t.
I feel like I was ignorant 2 months ago. I ignored things that didn’t affect me, or I didn’t think affected me. I had so much going on in my own life between moving, getting a divorce, and starting a new job I didn’t have the time or energy to pay attention to what was happening in the world. But the world came to me and made me pay attention.
When I first started staying home I focussed on me. I deep conditioned my hair, starting working out more and eating better, and took long baths to moisturize my skin. I stopped wearing make up. My lash extensions, acrylic nails and spray tan all started to fall away and I started to look at myself more in the mirror. I was changing. My walks that used to be about getting in shape became long meandering nature walks of staring in the ocean and looking for dolphins. I starting waking up earlier and having my coffee on my balcony and listening to the crashing waves, the birds and swaying palm trees. I wrote in my journal more, and started having deeper conversations with my friends.
I thought when I moved to LA I had changed, but now I realize I was just skimming the surface. There was so much more depth to my feelings and experiences that I was not paying attention to. Just like I wasn’t paying attention to what was happening in other countries, I wasn’t paying attention to what was really happening deep inside of me. I was too busy to really feel my feelings or analyze what I really wanted in my life. Action, I started to realize, only gets me so far, but it is in stillness that real change takes place.
So the stillness and confinement that at first was something that had to be ‘handled’ has become my refuge. I am starting to get used to this simpler way of living where I rarely venture very far from my house. In fact now, the thought of driving too far gives me a little anxiety. I have changed. So much of what I was running around LA looking for I am starting to realize I already had in me. I just needed to take the time to look beyond my defenses and insecurities and see the treasure underneath.
I will forever be grateful for this pause in my life. It has changed the direction my life will go from this point forward. I have become more open and sympathetic to the world in general. I realize that everything that happens in the world does affect me, we are all in this together. What started out as a time of me focussing on my outside appearances has turned into me going deeper and realizing that my outside appearance isn’t as important as what is inside.
Things will never be the same after this pandemic is over, our society has permanently changed, and so have I.