Under the Tuscan Sun

My bungalow sanctuary

My Etsy shop was born out of a transitional period in my life. It had started as a very dark time. The person I was sure I was going to marry turned out to not be who I thought he was (that’s putting it lightly). We broke up right before we were supposed to move in together. I was a mess and about to be homeless when my Grandma passed away. We weren’t very close, but I was an emotional wreck, and my sister insisted on flying me home (an incredibly sweet and generous gesture) to New Jersey for the funeral.

I was extremely grateful to be there for my Mom, see my Pop-Pop, and have the entire family together – it doesn’t happen often. But my anxiety was through the roof, thinking about my relationship with my Grandma, being around my family, and not knowing what I was going to be coming back to in LA.

Somehow, right around this time, my friend (Dane) who knew I was unsure of my living situation, told me that his friend was leaving the country for the month of March and needed a house/cat sitter. It was perfect timing. I met with Stacy – and her cat, Raja – and spent March in Van Nuys. During this time, I worked, cried (a lot), drank (a lot) and looked for a new place to live.

One night after apartment hunting when I was feeling really shitty and alone and scared, I went for a run to clear my head. I hadn’t worked out in a while and the night air felt wonderful. On my final sprint to the front of the apartment building, I stopped, out of breath and started to cry. Sob, really. What was I going to do? I had no idea where I wanted to live, no idea how I was going to afford it, and could barely get through the day without thinking about Brian and our toxic relationship.

With both hands on my head, I paced up and down the sidewalk, slowing my breath and breathing in and out slowly. And right then, I knew what I had to do. I had to stay with Rich and Tara in Topanga.

There’s no other way to describe these two than by calling them my angels. Truly, they continue to save me, time and time again. They have an open door policy to let me crash any time I need to (usually happens after break-ups or moves). And of course, when I told Tara of my predicament, she welcomed me with open arms to stay with them for most of the month of April.

Talk about a retreat. Topanga is a breath of fresh air. The view of the mountains is incredible, it’s quiet and peaceful and sunny, and most importantly, I barely get cell phone service up there. Not to mention Rich and Tara’s adorable sons, Sam and Finn, who always keep me in the moment to appreciate the little things in life.

Rich and Tara recently insulated the little bungalow on the other side of their driveway. This bungalow is so amazing. They put in a cute little futon, a big-ass TV on the wall, there are windows on all sides, a front door AND a back door that leads out to a little deck. A wooden ladder takes you up to the loft, where the most comfortable tempur-pedic mattress fills the space, with a little table next to it and a lamp that emanates a soft glow. My sanctuary.

In addition to letting me stay in their new space, they also let me keep all my stuff in their storage closet, connected to the garage.

I am forever grateful and so thankful to have them in my life. I talk, vent, and spill my guts to Tara about everything. We have a special relationship that I don’t have with anyone else because we come from the same town, know the same people, and have adapted amazingly to life in California. She understands things about my upbringing without me even having to say it. It’s funny how I only knew of her in high school. I might have said two words to her, and now I’m sure she’s my friend for life.

I don’t know it yet, but Topanga will shortly turn my rope light sign idea into an Etsy store reality.

One thought on “Under the Tuscan Sun

  1. Wow. Touched by your experience and your courage to share. Brought back a time when I was 19 yrs old. Stupid and naive kid. Thought I had found the love of my life. Unfortunately it was a one way street. Tore me up for a few years. Early 20’s sucked, until I got off my ass and decided to finish college at MSU. Just the fact that I was able to push forward and earn a degree meant a lot to me and still does. Thanks for this.

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