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  • Writer's pictureJenny Waldo

LA, again

To be honest, I have a lot of mixed feelings about returning to LA for the first time in 11 years. I loved living here, and never wanted to leave, but there were things about the place and who I was when I lived here that weren't good for me. And from a professional standpoint, there's all the questions about where my career would be had I not left.

Grief and hope. Those are the two emotions that dominate my relationship with LA. The first time I came, as a senior at Oberlin College on my Winter Term, a good family friend I'd just seen over Christmas, who had been singing about my going to Hollywood as we left our visit, collapsed and died from an aneurysm while I was spending a month in LA doing an internship on the Paramount Lot. I wrote about my time moving to and from and back to LA and then finally leaving LA again HERE. And now I'm back, again. To visit. Because my debut feature film got into Dances with Films and is having its West Coast Premiere at the iconic TCL Chinese Theatres right in the heart of Hollywood.

- first day back in LA with my friend and Acid Test Scripty Kristin Massa

The last time I was in LA, I brought my young kids (4 and 6) to spend time with their dad after our recent divorce and his relocation back to LA where we had lived together before we got married there. We took the kids to Disney Land where I went into the bathroom as soon as we arrived to have a mini-bawling session over the fact that I was doing a family thing with a broken family. I stayed for a week at my recently-deceased mother-in-law’s house where my ex was living so that he could have more than the two weeks he could take off from work with the kids since he didn’t have any childcare options.

There was a period of time a few months earlier when, in the midst of separating and divorcing, I went to LA by myself to see if/how I could move back as a single mother and find work in the film industry I loved. I was excited about returning. I’d had a hard time adjusting to life in Houston and the struggle to find film work there made me question my talent, dedication, and abilities.

For many reasons, reasons that had merit, reasons that still make me angry to this day, reasons that were wonderful, and everything in between, I didn’t move back to LA. But my ex did and so I found myself in the summer of 2011 back in LA for what I didn’t realize would be the last time in over a decade.

My return to LA feels like a promise kept as well as the proof needed that all the turmoil and questions and grief I had leaving LA after I got married and the way I’d left the last time after my divorce would not be the final chapter in my LA story.

My kids are almost adults themselves now. And thriving. And I'm remarried. And thriving. Who knows what would’ve happened had I taken a different path and made different choices. I wonder. All the time. You can’t be a writer and not think about the different narratives embedded in a choose-your-own-adventure story trying to craft the best one for your project, even if that project is your own life.

- photos from a recent trip to Cancun with family friends.

I started this blog/website in the midst of my divorce when I needed to create SOMETHING where I could focus and deposit creative efforts no matter big or small. I still have weekly reminders for my Monday Movie reviews and my Wednesday Writing themed blog posts and my Friday Foto posts that I haven’t kept up with in a while. They remind me of that profound time of change and grief and life and love and everything I’ve filled these last 11 years with to get me to this point. I started with the theme of metamorphosis since I was in the midst of all this great change, but it's still true to this day.

The only thing that's certain in life is change.

Since this isn’t (hopefully) the end of my narrative, I don’t want to spin a pre-mature happy ending and, believe me, my anxiety reminds me every day what a tragedy everything could turn out to be, but that doesn’t negate what’s happened. And there’s been so much good.

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