by Holly West
This past weekend I attended one of my favorite conferences of all time. The California Crime Writers Conference (CCWC), co-hosted by Sisters in Crime Los Angeles and the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America, takes place every other year and it's always fantastic.
I'm not just saying that because I've been involved in its planning since 2011. I might've been silently screaming these past few weeks as the last minute details of conference planning threatened to run my little mental train right off the rails, but once the conference started, I was immediately reminded of why I do this. The teamwork, the friendships, the collective knowledge that we'd done a terrific job and that our hard work made a difference to writers aspiring to get published (and even to those who've been published for years) made it all worth it.
Many of you know I moved from Los Angeles to the Sierra Foothills of Northern California in December. My life has changed drastically and though I joke a lot on Facebook about finding tarantulas under my pillow, hawks eating my little dog and fighting the bats roosting in our eaves, there has been a real consequence of this move that I hadn't anticipated. If I had, I might not've been so eager to do it. Then again, sometimes it's better to jump right into a new situation and worry about the ramifications later.
I bring this up here because the number one question I got during the CCWC this time around was how I was adjusting to my new home. It forced me to articulate, for the first time, the complicated feelings I have about living in one place while my heart is still in another. Flying into LAX, an airport I've been in and out of countless times in the twenty-five years I lived in Los Angeles, was a little surreal because it felt like I was flying home instead of just another conference city. As the taxi driver drove me to the hotel, he asked where I was from and I didn't know how to reply. When the conference ended and I contemplated going home to my own bed, I instinctively pictured our former house in Venice. I constantly had to re-adjust my perception to my reality. Of course, I've kind of been doing that for the last six months but it was definitely magnified, staying in a hotel in Culver City, in an area that is so very familiar to me.
It all kind of fucks with your head a little, you know?
What it all adds up to is that I'm adrift. I definitely don't belong in Los Angeles any more, but I don't belong here, either. I have yet to settle into my identity in my new home and haven't left my old one behind. Most of the time, I understand that such a big change of scenery would cause anyone a period of adjustment and yes, discomfort, and I'm fine about it. But being in LA this past weekend messed with the delicate balance I've achieved for myself, reminding me that for the moment, at least, I'm without a place to call home.
That will change with time and I suspect that one of the reasons I haven't adjusted more quickly is that I don't want to give up my ties to Los Angeles, or even loosen them. Not yet. But until I do, I probably won't be able to fully embrace my new life, though there is much to celebrate here.
To end this on a more positive note, I'd like to point out that I can't wait to write me some rural noir set in my new town/area. This here is Gold Country, and like the name implies, its history is rich. That will have to wait until I finish my WIP but I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what I can come up with.