Editor’s note: In the last installment of Tex’n the City, author Brandon James Singleton made up a checklist 10 goals before he hit 30, and realized he has only achieved one less than a year before the big day: A good best friend. This week, he sets his sights on a dream home, which takes on a different quality than he first imagined.
Tex’n the City: Item No. 1 — Dream home
by Brandon James Singleton
My first time day as public high school, I walked in decked out in denim from head to toe. Sure, now that blue jean jackets have made their rotation back into style, I can bring back that photo of my first day that mysteriously seems to vanish from my photo album. But I remember feeling so insignificant, so unimportant, and, even at 5-foot-11, like the smallest person in the world.
And what’s ironic is, it was all my idea. I wanted to be there. Within the first few seconds, there was this instant need to be accepted. I just knew that was the only way I was going to be happy in this new environment. Forget the fact it was just the first day, and I’d have an entire year to develop legit friendships and discover who I am. Nope. I needed instant gratification. (How is that normal?)
Eleven years later — just a few days ago — I found myself reverting right back to that first day in a new school. I recently made a huge decision. I decided that in the process of making this big change in my life, I needed a new environment. Fresh start. Fresh energy. Clean slate. I loaded my suitcases, decided to leave all my furniture, all the random meaningless crap I’ve collected over the years, leave Dallas and head west. Cali, baby!
In an odd, symbolic way, it felt like the perfect place. I was actually born in L.A., but moved we moved to DFW when I was still a baby. I’ve traveled all around the country, but never have I ever ventured back to where it all started.
Before I left Texas, I called a former dance instructor, Drew, whom I always looked up to. He resides in L.A. now, and I figured I could ask if he had any advice before I stepped off the plane. Drew was born and raised in London, so if anyone would have some sound advice on relocating to another time zone, it would be him. I was expecting something so profound. Yet, all he simply said was, “Don’t be afraid to be yourself.”
Really? That’s all ya got for me? Well, duhhh! Obviously, Drew still thinks of me as that silly kid he forced into a hip hop class years ago. Of course I’m going to be myself. That was pointless.
It’s my first night out in L.A., and instantly I suffered a major culture shock. I spent my normal amount of time beforehand, primping and preparing to dress to impress. Skip ahead two hours as I found myself at the bar feeling a tad overdressed standing next to the group of hot guys who all looked way more comfortable in shorts, plain T-shirts, slip on shoes and ball caps. Guess I didn’t get that memo. I felt so out of place, like everyone in the room was talking about me. (There goes that overdramatic side coming out again.)
So what did I do? I drank it off. A little buzz always makes an awkward situation better, right? It even helped strike a conversation with the people standing next to me at the bar. And in a last effort to make friends, I bought a round of shots. Let’s talk about it. I never missed Eric Austyn’s cheap drinks and bartending skills in Dallas as much as in that moment when the Zac Efron look-alike bartender handed me the bill. I won’t say how much I spent on three drinks and four shots, but let’s say I’ve suddenly grown a strong craving to eat nothing but pasta and noodles. For the next month.
On the walk home — fortunately I only live two blocks from that bar — I recapped the night in my mind. Then out of nowhere, Drew’s advice began to run through my mind. I thought it was so pointless at the time, but it became so clear that I had just run myself (along with my bank account) into the ground to impress strangers. I don’t even remember their names, and kinda doubting I’ll even see them again anytime. Assuming they even remember me if I do.
How is it possible that on my first night out, and my first chance to fix some of my past routines, I immediately lose myself and shift into performance mode? Strike one.
I always felt like the kid trying to fit in. In private school, I wasn’t rich like the other kids. When I started public school, I wasn’t as hip as the other kids. When I started performing, I didn’t have a resume as extensive as my cast mates. Talk about a Debbie Downer moment.
Before I started feeling sorry for myself, blasting Adele to wallow in my own sorrow, it became a great moment to fix my mistake. I turned around and went back to the bar. I saw a few of the people from that group, exchanged phone numbers and asked them to hang out again later in the week. … which, for me, is a big deal. My anxiety was going a mile a minute going over every possible way they could reject me. And what happened … well, I’ll tell ya when I get back. We’re all having a movie night at Rachael’s place in WeHo.
Whatdya know. Being myself actually got me further along than being someone I’m not. And there’s no way to really describe the feeling I have from being able to say that. I may not have that big fancy dream home I wrote about once upon a time. But in a way, moving out here and making positive changes in my life, I’m in my dream home after all.
Two down. Eight to go.
#TXNTC. Follow Brandon on Twitter @The_HugoBoss.