61: Living the Dream

61: Living the Dream

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive

Living the Dream

You can have a laugh in Los Angeles, or you can weep in Los Angeles, depending on your attitude towards it.

~Miranda Richardson

I was about ten years old. I spent a lot of time day dreaming, like most children of that age. One thing that fascinated me was California, particularly Los Angeles. Being from a small town in Nova Scotia, I was amazed at the big city, the fancy houses, and the celebrity lifestyle. I would look in the phonebook for country and state area codes — 323 was one of the area codes for Los Angeles. When nobody was around I would get on the phone and dial 1-323 then seven more random numbers. Sometimes the call would not go through but then I would try again until somebody answered on the other end. When the person said hello I would say, “Hi, is this LA?” They would say “Yes” and then I’d hang up.

Just knowing that for that moment I was talking to someone from Los Angeles made me happy. I made so many calls to LA that I remember one day when I was sitting at the kitchen table my dad walked in from work with papers in his hand, slammed them on the table and said “Angela, your calling LA days are over.” Turns out that I had called so much it ended up costing my dad a lot of money. I don’t know exactly how much, but obviously it was enough to tick him off.

I always imagined that when I got older I would “live in LA with the stars.” A lot of my family knew this. They thought it was cute and sometimes they would even make jokes about it. I didn’t know when or how I was going to get there. I just knew for certain that I was going to leave my small town and live out my dreams in Los Angeles.

When I was graduating from high school, one of the first universities I looked at was UCLA. I soon realized that going to a school in a different country was not going to be easy. The tuition was higher, the admission requirements were different, and things were a lot more complicated, so I ended up settling for a school close to home.

I did not know anybody that lived in LA and I did not have the money to take a trip there on my own, but I never gave up hope that one day I would get there. That day came when I was twenty-four years old.

I had taken a summer job in Vermont working as a camp counselor. My roommate, Diana, was from Hungary. Over the summer we became great friends and in September, when camp was over, Diana asked me if I wanted to join her on a trip to visit her friend in Santa Barbara. I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe that I was finally going to California. We would stay with her friend in Santa Barbara, then head to Hollywood for another week before going home. Well, that was Diana’s plan (and the one I shared with my family and friends). I, however, had a different idea.

I told my family that I wouldn’t be going home from Vermont and would be going to California for a few weeks. They were a little disappointed but were happy for me that I would finally get to see LA. What they didn’t know was that I had only bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. I did not know what I was going to do when I got there, but I knew that I was going to stay there for a while.

California was everything I had hoped. I belonged here. I ended up landing a “dream job” as a nanny in a gated community in Calabasas, down the street from Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. I lived in a million-dollar home, drove Escalades and Mercedes, lounged in the amazing back yard with a pool and hot tub, ate at posh restaurants, had everything paid for — gas, food, vacations, etc. — and still got paid weekly. It was even better than I had imagined — except that the “dream job” turned out to be not so glamorous and only lasted seven months.

I went from living with the rich and famous to waiting on the rich and famous at various restaurants. I overstayed my visa (did I mention that setback?) and could not travel to Canada because I would not have been allowed to re-enter the US. Luckily for me, I met Ehab and we fell in love, got married, and fixed all the immigration issues. As I write this, my husband and I have been together for six years and married for three and a half. I’ve been calling LA “home” for seven years.

My life in LA has definitely had its ups and downs and it’s not always glitz and glamour, but I am living my childhood dream. I wanted this with every ounce of my being and I made it happen, through a combination of hard work and a positive attitude. I always knew I would end up in LA and that it would be right for me.

~Ange Shepard

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