My first day there was amazing. I was jetlagged and culture shocked. White people were everywhere and they were acting normal and going about their lives. I felt like a chocolate MnM in bowl with only yellow ones. I was dark back home, here I was practically navy blue.

I loved it. Hollywood was alive. These were my people. This felt more like home than home ever had. The fear was gone. I had nothing, but neither did the mime going at it like it was Paris in the 60s.

I lived in a studio with three people. Waitress at a cafe with fake papers. I served tables and auditioned. There was little sleep, I had grown up on a farm so that was not a problem. Those first few weeks were the best that I can remember. One of my roommates was a gay man, the first openly gay man I had ever met. He taught me how to put on make up and walk in heels.

I took headshots and went to the beach after we went out. I could drink here too, and weed was awesome. Things changed after my first call back home. Giving a progress report that had no progress at all was hard, to parents who had given up their hopes for a college degree to let me come here, it was heartbreaking.

What was hopeful and beautiful and ambitious became bitter and desperate. I thought about going back home. I thought about starting school for a real job. It was my roommates who saved me. The other girl, she played the clarinet. We went to a festival, there were thousands of hopefuls.

We camped out on the beach for the entire weekend. I got drunk enough to climb up to the Hollywood sign, just the hill though, I could not be arrested on my visa. I realized that it did not matter if I made it. L.A might have been the last place on earth where people still truly believed. Who loved without fear and chased their dreams without shame.

I stayed.

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