It was in February 2008 when work took me to Santa Monica for the first time. I remember colleagues in the office giving me a weird look saying: “Not too shabby.” “Will you ever come back?” “You are so lucky to go to Santa Monica in February!” The client suggested I come to LA a few weeks early, as this was a new geography for me and there was a lot of work to do in a short amount of time (the meeting was moved to Santa Monica from Istanbul at the last minute). I reluctantly agreed, as I would miss carnival season in Germany, the social event of the season: socializing with friends, meeting future boyfriends, gossip and parties. I was nervous departing Frankfurt by myself (everyone else on my team was traveling later). People on the plane asked if I was going to UCLA or to visit family or something. Nobody expected that the girl in the Nike waffle racers, denim (my only pair, so cool and affordable), and red Nike hoody, would be on her way to LA for a work trip, managing a six-digit event budget and staying at a fairly expensive hotel.
It was a whirlwind first day in LA: The drive from the airport down Wilshire Blvd made me feel like a movie star and I realized very quickly that my German credit card limit would not cover the hotel security deposit at the Fairmont Miramar (still one of my favorite hotels!) and leave me funds for weekend shopping during in a time amazing exchange rates. I knew nothing about this place (a few guidebooks were needed), and yet, I knew after just a few hours that Santa Monica, Venice Beach, West Hollywood and LA in general was am amazing place. It had good weather, electric people, a variety of things to do and see, and endless possibilities.
My mum couldn’t believe that this company would let a 22-year-old go to LA by herself, and she seesawed back and forth between being happy and worried. I remember telling her that this was one of the most amazing places I had ever been. I loved it and felt so inspired.
In case you are wondering, the meeting went super well, we had a lot of fun, we learned a lot of lessons. And, although I never slept more than five hours per night, I was so energized, happy, suntanned and positive after the three weeks. My brain was packed with ideas: I couldn’t wait to get home to redecorate my room, wear all my new clothes, work out more, eat healthier and just try to keep a little bit of the California spirit with me. I told my parents every single detail. And, in the midst of my excitement, my mum said, almost emotionless (while prepping dinner), “Sounds great, Maika. Begin anywhere.”
Today I can clearly say that my first touch point with California was a big milestone. It was a kick start for my career, the foundation of my growing love for the west coast. So, it only makes sense for me to come back here to begin the new chapter of my career. And, I hope that I will fly back to PDX with the same feelings I had in 2008 — motivation, vision and fuel for ideas. This time the big plan is not the next meeting, not the next corporate job, it’s better. IT IS A BOOK. This time the trip to LA was to meet with my new editor.
She is beyond amazing. She gave me so many ideas, inspiration, rules, challenges and advice. I also have a very long to-do list. I told her that I will am good with deadlines (and that I need them). We talked about where to start, drafting a priority list and as serendipity would have it, her answer was as simple as my mum’s nine years ago: BEGIN ANYWHERE.
So, stay tuned. There is more to come on this and lots of other things. I invite all of you to join me on this journey of writing and publishing a book that will convey my story, my life lessons learned and what I hope to pay forward. Sign up for my blog posts to stay up-to-date, and please, follow me Facebook and Instagram.