FROM THE CARIBBEAN TO LOS ANGELES PT. II




TRANSITIONING FROM PUERTO RICO TO LA:
I never told you about what I was going through before I arrived to LA. My original flight was actually planned for the third week of May. All would have gone according to plan had my mother not fallen critically ill in the hospital. I cancelled my flight to keep her company and nurse her back to optimal health; this all happened a week before my intended flight. The farewell celebrations had commenced and everything, so it was a truly difficult process. J held my hand through the way; I could not have asked for better support. During that difficult month, he took care of me as I took care of Mom. We were all there for each other, it made us grow closer to one another. After spending so much time with him, I couldn't see myself with anybody that isn't him.



As she got better, we started to celebrate again, little by little. Come July, things were entirely back to normal and we were once more in jolly spirit. I spent all summer actually having what I considered to be a summer vacation. Granted, I worked... but I also had this mindset of it being a transitory period after which real life would really start to kick in. I enjoyed myself so very much with the ones that I loved.

As the date for my definitive flight late August approached, I started to feel a change in my surroundings. As if by chance, elements were falling into place. Doors to opportunities always open when a big change is coming. People started to look for me, whether for catching up or reconciliation. A bunch of things that were previously up in the air started to sort themselves out. In preparation to leave, really big things started to happen. The changes manifested everywhere; I felt changes in my love, professional and domestic lives. It was really happening.



The biggest eye-opener was to meet with a person I feel a riveting connection to; the kind that nests deep inside your soul and starts to sprout new things in you. I won't get into whether the changes are for the better or for the worst, but I will admit that meeting up to lay down the facts was thoroughly therapeutic. We connected over past situations, over the hurt and the sweet promise of the future to take that hurt away. In amazement, we found synchronicity in how we both felt. We had gone through the same experience while being worlds apart. At that moment we sat together, there were no barriers or things hidden. The truth spilled out and brought light to our darkness. I am so happy to have closure.

Those last couple of days in Puerto Rico were a huge blast. I spent every day of the week with Mom and J. I took delicious skirt steak and plantain dumplings to J's work as well as cheeseburger dumplings. We delighted in each other's company as well as in really tasty food. There is nothing we enjoy more! Another treat that we indulged in was some Domaine Carneros rosé champagne. It is by the same company that produces Taittinger, and tastes like heaven-sent raspberries. This champagne is made in Napa, California. Isn't that a funny coincidence?

Parting was bittersweet; I fought back the tears in my eyes, but could not dissuade them completely. When you can see that your departure causes the ones that you love most pain, it hurts you too. I was blue during most of the day, and then overcome by stupor as the changes started manifesting. During both plane rides I felt stunned, in denial of all the changes that were manifesting. I spent the week at my best friend's house and we had a great time. It still felt like a temporary vacation while I was under her wing. The vacation ended when I went with my room mate to my new apartment. That's when it hit me — this is really happening!!

WHAT IS THERE TO DO IN LA?



Everything. If you enjoy a music scene, no matter how underground, you will find it. I love the fact that people listen to the type of music I listen to here, which is a rare luxury in Puerto Rico. You say you like synthpop or 80's pop music? They have it. You want some underground obscure metal? Not a problem; you can find it. Hipsters thrive off shady stores with cassettes and EPs or LPs to bands you've never even heard of. The packaging on them is great, too!



Little Tokyo.
This place is so much like the real thing, although compacted into a handful of stores. You can find authentic products that are consumed in Tokyo, Japan's supermarkets. I found my favorite green tea Kit Kats as well as the mushroom cookies, but I have no idea what they're called. I can't read kanji.

Right over the supermarket is a wonderful bookstore that has all kinds of writing and art supplies. It even sells day planners! As you walk along the maze, you can find volumes of manga in Japanese, clip art books, design magazines, beauty magazines, etc. They sell  +81 and Kera. After you get around enough, you notice toys as well as phone charms. They had a bit of everything!

A quirk about this place is that as you go down the stairs, you will find a bunch of cosplayers huddled together. They look like high school kids dressed up as their favorite anime characters. I was very happy to see there is even room for oddballs in town. Everyone is entitled to self-expression no matter the time of year; no matter if it isn't time for Comic Con or Halloween yet.


Further down the road, you will find markets that sell authentic Japanese make-up. The shelves are crammed with products I recall seeing abroad as well as some I had not seen before. They have a bunch of touristy things as well as tea sets for adults and teens. They sell ingredients and accessories for the kitchen as well.

The food is WONDERFUL. There is this minute man ramen place called Daikokuya that I cannot visit Little Tokyo without eating at. They sell dumplings, tempura and noodles. Everything is very filling and cheap, so you can imagine the waiting time. I think that you spend more time waiting outside than you do inside the restaurant. As soon as you sit, they take your order. The food takes less than ten minutes to arrive, after which you pay and you go. It isn't a romantic leisurely place, but the food tastes authentic and is very filling. I thoroughly recommend Daikokuya.

Tea. You can find tea shop everywhere. There is a wonderful tea shop in Little Tokyo called Four Leaf. Their menu is nice, but it doesn't offer many options for those who need decaffeinated coffee or tea. I got lucky, my first ever pick was also the one I would like to stick to. I had tea with hibiscus, pomegranate and berries in it and it was absolutely delicious! It was naturally sweet and refreshing, and really hit the spot. I must take photos to show you what I am talking about!

There is so much more I need to tell you about, but it will have to wait at least one more week. I love living in LA, and don't ever want to leave.
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