With a bit of a spring in my step, I disembarked from the aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport.
As far as luggage goes, I traveled lightly, carrying only the essentials. I’d say the most important of these would be my favorite cardigan sweater, but I also carried with me – in the figurative sense – my hopes and positive expectations for the future.
Los Angeles is known as a mecca for excessive lifestyles and its many celebrities contribute to this reputation. For that reason, I had some concerns over whether or not I’d be able to adapt myself to the local culture.
I hailed a taxi outside the airport and while we were driving it struck me. “I am actually here!”
Having seen so much of the city in the movies and on television, I have to admit it was surreal to be a first-time visitor.
It became even more exciting when I looked out the passenger side window and saw the world-renown Hollywood sign sitting atop the hills.
Editor’s note: This article is a literary translation of the lyrics to the Miley Cyrus song “Party in the USA.”
I became overwhelmed with the sights. For a small-town girl like me, seeing everyone dressed in fancy clothes, it appeared that everyone I saw could indeed have been a celebrity.
The culture shock was suddenly too much and my stomach began folding over with anxiety.
I suddenly felt a longing for home and second-guessed the whole trip. The weight of my decision was weighing heavily upon me.
Amidst these uneasy feelings, the driver serendipitously turned on the radio. Relief swept over me as I heard the radio playing a song by one of my favorite artists, Jay-Z.
I found myself instantly dancing in the taxi! As I was waving my hands around in celebration with the music, the nervous anxiety I had simply vanished into the air.
I was moving my head as if to say “yes!” and shaking my hips. It was a positive experience after all. A true American celebration.
Later that evening, I took another taxi to a night club.
When I stepped out of the car, I noticed that the people there were looking at me with curiosity. I presume they were wondering why I was wearing cowboy boots. That was certainly a dead giveaway that I wasn’t one of the locals!
The club experience would have been much easier had I been surrounded by my best friends – we have a great group of girls back home – but this time I was on my own. I was deep in music and unfamiliar people who were markedly different than what I had grown accustomed to in Nashville.
For instance, in contrast to the variety of footwear one would see at that the parties I usually go to, most of the ladies this night were wearing high-heeled shoes. Apparently, no one had taken the time to inform me that this is a locally popular style before I headed out for the evening.
Again, I felt that sinking feeling in my stomach, coupled with a yearning for home.
However, just as before, music came to my rescue. The person picking out the records unpredictably played one of my most-loved tracks by Britney Spears. My hands, head and hips once more moved to the music.
When the song was over, I considered leaving for a third time – just taking a plane home and ending the entire journey for good.
But just as it has happened so many times before, music intervened and my spirits were lifted to the point where I decided to stick it out.
My hands, my head, my hips – they all become one with the music in an American celebration.