Saturday, April 25, 2015

Not all those who wander are lost

There are a handful of things I have written in the last ten years that have brought me to tears during the process. Most of those things have been about loss, or about rock bottom moments. They've been my anger rants to exes or self awareness posts about depression.

For once in my life, the tears on the keyboard are for happiness. A bitter sweet goodbye to a place that not only changed my life, but saved it.

The decision to leave was the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life. Stay and find a new career path that was conducive to the life I had grown to love, potentially calling it quits on the last five years of work and arguably the next 10 years of probable (and relative) success. Or leave and embrace the ultimate sense of achievement - working for a show in LA while potentially selling my own.

When my agents told me back in November that the script I had written was good enough to get me staffed on a show, I was thrilled. I bought shots for every bartender and a couple random strangers at Rarebit. I had moved to Charleston with the awareness I would probably have to put writing on the back burner in order to find the happiness I was looking for and lacking in New York. I knew there would be compromise. I never expected to write the script that would potentially put the rest of my life in motion while sitting on my porch drinking a beer.

When he asked if I was prepared to move to LA, without hesitation I said "of course!" And when I sat down for my general meetings in February, I knew I had the ability to do what I loved and have that ability recognized.

When the second script I wrote down here got even better accolades from my agent and certain execs than the first in March, I knew I had to make the decision. Staffing would begin in April, and meetings would come rolling in May and June. Yet here I was, scared to death about having to pull the trigger.

I never thought I would find something that made me feel the way writing does. Let alone did I ever think it would be a place. But Charleston has given me more in the last eight months than I think I could have ever imagined getting in a lifetime.  In 2012, a three day trip here saved me from suicide and depression. And in the last eight months, this life has made it difficult to remember what it was like when happiness felt like a far off dream.

I once wrote that Charleston gives a warmth to my bones that I couldn't explain. And I still can't. I just know when I walk out every day onto Smith St., everything feels right. There's an anchor in my heart and it's planted firmly here. Safe in a harbor where I have found nothing but love and friendship.

But I am a firm believer of taking risks. Of taking chances. Of never giving up until you've tried it all. And while I know how easy it would be to settle down here, open a shop with my sister and write on the side, I know in twenty years I would look back and wonder. All the stories and scripts in my head, and the characters that never got their voices. Of the Emmy speech that I'd no longer be able to practice in my head before bed. Of the joy of finishing a script and the agonizing wait to get the approval from my agents. I would miss those things. Tremendously.

In eight months I have discovered a love for life I didn't think was ever possible after my depression. I always thought the best I could hope for was alright. Just okay. Fine. Instead I have found that there is no end to the possibilities of how happy one can be. Every day I've been here I've woken up and been just a little bit better than the day before. I have learned how to deal with a life I was once terrified of waking up to. I have embraced challenges and thoughts that I never would have at 25. Made friends and had relationships that are beautiful and complicated and messy. I woke up every day not just wanting to get by, but wanting to be better.

And the only way I can rationalize leaving is by telling myself that it would be a damn shame to not take every ounce of happiness, every lesson, every heart break and mend, every overwhelming ounce of love I have found here and put it toward the one thing I love to do. I kept telling myself the stories I could tell aren't meant to be kept here and here alone. Those lessons need to be put into action. I need to write, I need to be in LA, and I need to have the experience I've longed for and worked for over the last eight years. I need to succeed my happiness, not just live in it.

And so I chose. Found an apartment in Santa Monica, made the decision and will need to find some way to say goodbye not with sadness in my heart, but with hope. And if living in Charleston has given me anything, it's the astounding ability to hope.

When my roommate Jamie suggested a fourteen mile hike last week, I almost dropped dead. I don't think I walk fourteen miles in a week. The idea of doing it in a few hours terrified me. But I agreed. And I motored through it, stopping only to ever admire the marsh and the color of the sky, and even the gross smell of the puff mud. When we stopped at Seewee restaurant and destroyed fourteen pounds of fried seafood, I couldn't stop thinking, "holy shit, I did it". And that's how I feel about my entire experience here. I have done things I never thought imaginable, felt things I never thought possible, and had the extreme privilege to live a life a lot of people only dream of.  It's time for a new adventure, a new journey, a new chapter. And LA is it.

And as I begin the last month of living in Charleston (for now), I look forward to 31 days of nothing but happiness and adventure. Of making the most of the time i Have left here rather than trying to hold onto each moment, afraid of its inevitable end. I look forward to trips to Folly and Sullivans, hikes with Jamie, lacrosse and beers with Colin, laughs at Muse and walks home up Vanderhorst. Wine nights with Emily and Eli, heart felts with Drew, laughs with John & Jamie, shows with Miles, beach days with Mike and Don, being Jewish with Donnie. And of course, beers on the porch while Cooper tries to eat bumble bees.

I will also relish every ounce of pain I feel as I get my tattoo - not all those who wander are lost. It seems appropriate to take the mantra that made the most sense to me down here with me wherever I go. And have the ability to remind myself this place is always with me.

And in between all those moments, I will look forward to the new ones waiting to be made in Santa Monica, with new roomies and a new town. A new beach and a new job. And know that even if everything falls apart, I will always have a place to come back to where even on the worst of my days, I am happy. And if that's not the highest goal in life, I can't imagine what is.


  1. Wow, what an amazing post, it made my heart open and fill with joy.

  2. Do great things, Stef. Stay Snarky, Pretty Gurl!!