I am a fan of the saying, “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” I was 20 years old and living with my best friend Sabrina in a small hotel room near LAX in California, when I learned that lesson. It was my first time away from home and L.A. was different than I had imagined. Public transportation wasn’t fun and because I had yet to open a bank account, walking around with thousands of dollars strapped to my waist was unnerving.
I was in town for a six-month internship at Rhino Records and, in my mind, once we found a furnished apartment, everything would be golden. We spent days trekking from Santa Monica to Los Feliz to Beverly Hills, checking out studios as big as my living room back in New England. We finally settled on a decent studio near Culver City that was close to public transportation routes and came with all of the appliances we needed.
My supervisor was kind enough to give me a ride to work until I learned the lay of the land, adding more than 30 minutes to her regular travel time. I felt like I was sinking in a pool of cheery faces as I toured the modern offices. My weariness only grew throughout the day and by the time I returned home to tell Sabrina how my day went, I blurted out that I wanted to go home. I was too homesick to tough it out.
My mother pleaded with me to stay, but I refused. I switched the dates on our return flights, explained the situation to my supervisor (she was very understanding) and cancelled my apartment deposit. And then I did something that has stuck with me until this day, something that has taught me about “wasted” moments. I looked at Sabrina and asked when would we get the chance to be in California like this – young, with money and without a care? Never. So we threw all of our worries to the wind and decided we would have the time of our lives.
We squeezed everything you can think of into that last week! We scored tickets to a taping of Politically Incorrect hosted by Bill Mahr, went to Universal Studios, the Hard Rock Café, the Santa Monica Pier and the Hollywood Wax Museum. We went to malls, bookstores and restaurants. We built memories that will last a lifetime.
I chose to seize that moment while simultaneously choosing to “waste” the moment of opportunity my internship afforded. When I returned home I guiltily wondered from time to time, what if I had toughed it out another day? One more week? A month?
Fourteen years later and I still don’t have an ounce of regret. Sometimes choices we make turn out not to be for us or at the right time, and we have to know when to let go. Each moment, whether it’s one I want to bask in or run from, is mine. I use them wisely. And to this day, I still don’t do anything that I don’t want to do.