It’s been one year.

One of the main measures that we as humans use to define growth, the “Year” mark is always looked upon with a certain type of reverence.  Sports seasons take place in years, birthdays come every 12 months.  No one cares much if you’ve kept the weight off for 7 months, but tell them a “year” and you’ll notice the level of praise they offer go up tenfold.

It’s been one year.  One year since I left home.  One year since I shattered the glass bubble my comfort zone provided.  One year since I told my family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances that I was moving clear across the United States and into the belly of the environment that I hoped would give birth to a new me.

It wasn’t always easy.  There were bouts of loneliness, a lack of confidence, being broke and not having the safety net I called “Mom” to bail me out.  I did my first bit of freeway driving on California’s petrifying highways, swallowed a few ounces of the Pacific Ocean and choked on the smog that layers this great state’s upper (and at times lower) atmosphere.

There was an earthquake.  And then another.  And one more for good measure.

I fully realized what the term “minority” meant as on most days in Orange County I was the only black guy I’d see.

I even pulled a total “O.C” move and made friends with a rather attractive, older, blonde woman.  Though this one didn’t put out nearly as much as Julie Cooper did.

There were days I felt like a hero.  To my nieces and nephews.  To my crew.  To my brother and sisters. (To my big sis Neicy: Absence does make the heart grow fonder, I love you more now than I ever did. 🙂  Vida and Ern, ya’ll are at the same level.  Sorry.)

There were days I felt like a failure.  Like (and sorry to crib Drake here) I was lying to the people I had promised success to.

Days where I walked 40 minutes in 90 degree heat just to make it to work on time.  And the 2 separate six week periods where I didn’t have a job.

The girls who moved on once I skipped town (still got love for you though, Heather.  Shana, not so much……….).  And the girls who came back around after being out of touch for nearly a decade.

The thing that kept going through all that was the feeling of bigness, like this giant ball of sunshine and opportunity named Southern California held everything and anything I could have ever wanted.  And also because I promised myself that I’d give my mom the life she deserved.

There’s a smile on my face when I walk out the door.  When a customer makes a rude remark.  When the cute cashier doesn’t text me back.  When the guy in the Mercedes gets impatient as he waits for me to cross the street.  When my idol moves in across the street and seriously puts a cramp in whatever limited game I already had (this toast’s for you, Michael Sorrentino!)

I smile because everything I want out of life lay right in front of me.  And from my high rise apartment I look out at it everyday of the week, a constant motivator and reminder of the reason I got on the plane in the first place.

But to answer the question that is the title of this post, “where have I been?”, I guess I’d have to say nowhere really.  I’m still on the way there.