It’s 7AM in Los Angeles. The sun is already up warming the right side of our face. The freeways are eerily empty. We cruise at an LA OK 10 mph over the speed limit north on The I5. (Yes I said THE)

“Wow it’s so clear and empty.”

“It’s Saturday morning, It’s always empty early on the weekends.” Ashley states matter of fact. As if to say “How could you not know this?”

“Oh yeah, that makes sense. It’s early and everyone has a hangover.”

Not us. We never adapted to the night life of LA. We are in our late 20’s married for almost a decade now, and have better things to do on a Friday night (like Netflix and chill).

‘badump, badump, badump’

The wheels on the bimmer go round and round atop the poorly maintained yet perpetually under construction blacktop. We’re on our way to Sacramento to stay the night with friends. 1,128 Miles and 3 days stand between us, Washington state, Family, and the holidays.

“Yearoupe.”

Ashley has a habit of doing this. She’ll be deep in thought and one word will escape. It’s my job to either ignore it or prod deeper.

“How’s that?”

A long pause as she realizes we’re in conversation now.

“It’s just, it’s here. It’s really happening. It’s crazy, we’re crazy.”

“Yeah, I’m OK with that.”

“Yeah…”

We spend the next 6 hours in deep conversation. We will have the next year or so as we travel Europe together to grow closer together yet again.

LA was a beast. Not unlike the reputation that New York has in a way. But instead of being brash and ‘move it or lose it’, LA lures you in with a kind word and basking sunshiny glow only to corrupt and eat your soul.

Ashley thinks I can be dramatic at times.

But we are getting out before it is too late.

A close friend in ministry always told us, “If you two make it out of LA as a couple together, you’ll be the first people I know to do so.”

We have proved him wrong. 5 years in LA and Ashley and I still love each other. Though not without the scars and pain that come with time, our love is steady deep.

Aside from the predictability of good weather, the only thing I’ll really miss about LA are my close friends. The city can be a particularly lonely place.

Amid the ever present traffic, crowded shopping centers, jostling for a leg up, a lucky break, and the ‘so what do you do’ conversations when you meet someone new, most people I know were lonely. Surrounded by everyone and no one.

In our time there we became very lonely too. Ashley and I crave community. We came from a close community where most waking moments were spent in the presence of people who we knew loved us unconditionally.

I am sitting in one of their living rooms in Oregon right now as I write this article en route north. Years have passed since I last saw them, yet we are able to pick up right where we left off.

The fire is crackling, warm.

But over time we found family in Los Angeles too. It took years, not days like I had experienced before.

Through our church we found a group of people in our neighborhood who were also seeking community. Even so, it took 2 years to break down the walls we all put up and become real with each other.

Toward the end we all ended up meeting at our place every Wednesday night. Tea, and sometimes tears accompanied our conversations. Monday we did movies together, Saturday the nerdiest ones would play D&D. We planned movie marathons, had potluck style dinners together at least once a month and never seemed to O.D. on company.

Yes, I will miss LA. Not just because one of my childhood best friends moved down there with us. And certainly not because of the so called ‘glitz and glamor’ of tinsel town.

No I will miss LA because of, yet again, the deep loving relationships we made while there. It was harder than it had ever been, but we fought the status quo, we worked at it, and we found friendship.

Now, inexplicably we move on. We seek adventure all the while longing for comfort, security, and steady friendship.

Europe awaits and who will we meet there? We don’t have years to make deep friendships this time.

Will we be alone, surrounded by the world?

Or will will embrace the world as our home. Despite truly having an ocean between us and loved ones.

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