The concept of home has always been a movable one to me. I was born in Germany but don’t feel like I’m from there. Officially, I was an expat. When I moved to this country at age 14, I experienced the opposite version: I was an expat in my own country. Weird. I have lived in many places but always felt like I was a visitor there. I would put up paintings and photos on the walls of the apartments I rented but I never felt like they were home, and so if a painting didn’t quite fit, I shrugged and said to myself, “well, I won’t be here that long anyway.” To me, “home” was something other people had. My friend, Laura, who would invite me home with her for Thanksgiving dinners if I couldn’t get back to where my family was…the surrogate mother who took care of me when I was a young girl living in England all by myself and would spoil me rotten on long “exeat” weekends… the warm houses I would walk into that just oozed family history, faded family photos dotted all over the place.
Five years ago this week, I left the rented room in Richmond, California that I had been living in for the past seven months, packed my couple suitcases and my two very vocal cats, and got in the car with my mom to drive down to Los Angeles. I didn’t know what awaited me there. I knew only three people (and two of them weren’t even there at the time), and I had no real plan. But I knew that staying where I was wasn’t an option. I had been planning for this moment for over a year, and when the time came, I remember just throwing caution to the wind and saying to myself, “well, I guess we’ll see what happens.” I wasn’t thinking of it as a home because a home wasn’t a thing I had any concept of – for me.
When people ask me what I love about Los Angeles, I tell them that it’s the “air of possibility.” Having lived in many of the major cities in the United States – New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Chicago, San Francisco – and other big cities around the world, I can safely say that (and yes, I will admit this is opinion but I’m right!) Los Angeles stands out as a city that takes chances, that doesn’t ask that you prove yourself before you embark on a crazy new adventure, that seems to ask questions in order to get to know you better, not to corner you and catch you out. That’s what you need when you arrive somewhere and have no clue what you’re doing but are willing to take any chance to see if the ideas you’ve been building up in your head and your heart have a hope in hell of becoming something.
As I reflect on the past five years, I can say they have been both the hardest and most rewarding years of my life. I can only think of one other time I was pushed to my limits in this way, and it was during my senior year at Barnard College. I started out saying “yes” to everything: going to every networking event and happy hour, driving two hours here and three hours there to meet people, taking coffee dates and drinks dates almost every evening. Being home alone was a treat (remember when that was a thing?) After a while, I found my tribe (thanks to folks like Bri Seeley and Kimberly Spencer and Fête Los Angeles) and have found myself supported beyond measure during the last few years.
In 2020, of course, we took our entire business virtual, establishing our Virtual Tasting Experiences and our Monthly Music & Wine Club, which has been going strong now for 16 months! I’ll be keeping it going through at least the end of 2021 and then… we’ll just have to see! As I look forward to the next five years, I have to say that I honestly don’t know what I’ll find. It’s my intention to keep leading Five Senses Tastings into the future, but I have a feeling it will start to look a little different here soon. I’m open to what’s coming and excited at the idea that I may not even know what that looks like.
I reflect on the last five years with great humility, and I hope you will join me on the journey for the next five.