What I didn’t find in the Hollywood Hills

I used to think I traveled to unearth the dormant dimensions of my being, the risk and exoticism and uncertainty all chipping away at the everyday manifestation of “me.” As crumbling rocks shuttled down the mountain like a comet, dust trailing in their wake, I realized I travel not to unearth the dormant dimensions of my being but to reconnect with risk and exoticism and uncertainty, inviting each to nest in my psyche for a few time-bending days.


I own this mountain. Or the lighting makes it look like I do, anyway.

As I hiked to the Hollywood sign over the weekend, stumbling, as usual, over the rough terrain (I’m not terribly nature-savvy), I remembered the 12-year-old who didn’t care how frizzy her hair looked on her first trip to Florida. The one who skipped the morning session of a conference to wander the French Quarter of New Orleans. The one who sipped (probably) questionable pomegranate juice from a rickety street cart in Istanbul. 

It is easy to separate the Traveler and Des Moinesian dimensions of me.

I relegate adventure to specific years and months, collecting fortune cookie fortunes, tickets, postcards, key chains and coins in a display case on my dresser. Slowly, Des Moines memories have taken their place among the Arabic script from Istanbul and the Turkish map I can’t read. Hidden behind a stack of beloved postcards is my Jefferson Jackson Dinner ticket for Hillary Clinton’s cheering section. My Des Moines Half Marathon bib. The lime-green origami crane a coworker folded for my birthday.

There, they fit together. Hodgepodge but harmonious.

I sometimes pretend I am one with nature.

I sometimes pretend I am one with nature.

In Los Angeles, I ate cupcakes for lunch, stayed up way too late, spent more money than I normally would, belted out bad pop songs and slid down the side of a mountain (and laughed the whole way). While I can’t blast Flo Rida’s latest hit in my cubicle or drop some serious cash on a grown-up fancy dress every week, I’m vowing to reconnect the Traveler and Des Moinesian dimensions of me beyond the little collection of memories in my room.

I turned to LA for inspiration and renewal; I wound up finding both not in the Hollywood Hills but on my dresser. This trip and that often-fleeting desire for adventure are part of the everyday manifestation of me, one that transcends plane tickets and paid time off. I needed a reminder that it’s OK to be all the different dimensions of me all at once.

Things get out of balance from time to time, for sure (I’m only 23 here), but I return every time to the harmonious hodgepodge.

California Science Center

The entrance of the California Science Center is stunning.

I'm a total museum nerd, so a visit to the Griffith Observatory was a must.

I’m a total museum nerd, so a visit to the Griffith Observatory was a must.



Sometimes you have to stop and take a photo atop a graffitied rock.


Hollywood Sign

Proof that I did, in fact, make it to the Hollywood sign.

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