Fear is debilitating. It was the main cause of my reluctance to make the big move from my secure life in the Bay Area to a new, foreign place. It sounds ridiculous when I think about it. Why was I so scared? It was the same damn state for Christ's sake. Only 4.5 hours away on the 5 (or 10, depending on holiday traffic). But, why? Why was I so fearful of leaving the only place I had ever known for something new and exciting?
Bye, Bye San Jo
My husband and I would always laugh at ourselves when we put things into perspective and thought about what our grandparents went through to come to this country. A place that was literally foreign to them. My husband's grandfather left his little island home in Siquijor, Philippines by himself at the tender age of 14? (maybe -- I get a different age depending on who I'm talking to). An American ship was sailing around the Philippines looking for workers and he volunteered himself (after lying about his age because he was, in fact, too young). He then boarded a boat for a month (yes, an entire month) to travel to an actual foreign country where he knew no one, did not speak the language, and had no idea what was actually in store for him.
My husband's grandfather (left), grandmother (middle), and his grandfather's brother (right)
My grandmother came from a life of privilege in the Philippines. Her family was wealthy and her wedding to my grandfather was in the society pages of the newspaper. But, when he was murdered at 32, leaving her with 6 children and pregnant with their 7th, her whole world changed. She eventually made her way to the United States and brought her children over in phases. My dad was the last to come at 21 (I must get my fear and reluctance from him). In America, she didn't have the privileges she grew up with in the Philippines. She had to get a job, maybe for the first time in her life, to support her family and bring each of her children to this foreign country. If it weren't for the sacrifices our grandparents made and their absence of fear in their very scary circumstances, my husband and I would not be here today (not in America, like, on Earth).
A newspaper clipping of my grandparents' wedding announcement and their wedding portrait
Now that I'm in La La Land and reflecting on how insignificant my fears are in comparison to those our grandparents faced, I feel... Humbled. I had been to Los Angeles before I moved here, so it wasn't a completely exotic and foreign place (unless the first place you lived was West Hollywood, like us, and you felt like an alien for being the only people walking, not running, down Hollywood Blvd. with a shirt on... Seriously, do they not sell shirts in West Hollywood? Or, you went to Craig's because they had a decent vegan menu when you were vegan, like I was, and were going out for your birthday dinner with a bunch of meat eaters only to be so overwhelmed by the exhaustive celebrity sightings and pompous ambience that you felt like you had accidentally stepped into the ultra-exclusive assassins' hotel in John Wick and definitely weren't supposed to be there. I think I actually turned to my husband and asked, "Are we allowed to be here?"). Well, that was a serious digression. Now that I'm writing this, maybe La La Land is worse... Just kidding?
But seriously, I am very humbled by what our grandparents did. We speak the language, we know the area, we knew what we were getting ourselves into, and most importantly, we didn't have children to have to worry about keeping alive. I mean, my husband and I could survive on instant ramen noodles if needed, but I don't think that's a good idea for growing babies. Right?
That smile is a "no babies to worry about while you're trying to make moves" smile
My fear is much easier to manage when I think about the struggles other people have had to overcome. Mine seem so small in comparison. Yet, it doesn't completely quell the fears I still struggle with. Even though I've overcome my fear of the big move and starting a new life in a new place, new fears have begun to settle in now that I'm here trying to make it in this not-so-foreign land...