We drove up a steep hill in our packed doughnut food truck to see our new house in Glassell Park for the first time. But we weren’t prepared for the stress of that hillside drive. Who knew that such pockets of treacherous roads existed just east of the 2 Freeway?

This was a different level of driving stress than we had ever encountered on New York City or New Jersey roads. There, people whizzed by while holding the horn. Or the wrong lane would take you to a different state. But here in L.A., every turn we made led to a new hazard: a blind curve with a speeding Tesla coming down the other side; a gardener’s pickup truck with protruding tools parked to the side but still taking up half the road; low branches that swatted the top of the truck and then snapped back to spank us in the rear. Wait, this street is two lanes?

I gripped the door, mouth tight, barely breathing. When we finally parked the bright blue doughnut truck in our new driveway, my husband turned to me and said, “Oh man, my butt was clenched that entire time.”

Jersey City to Los Angeles. That was the journey I’d made with Dan, my husband of six years, with his mini-doughnut catering truck as our moving vehicle. We’d park and leave all our belongings alone overnight. I wondered if the truck would make our mattress and towels smell the way Dan did when he came home after working — the greasy sweetness of fried dough and powdered sugar. But the smells didn’t have that much time to sink in. We did it fast.

October 2020 didn’t feel like the time for dilly-dallying with our things in tow, encased in a glaring wrap of — I’ll call it cerulean — with raining sprinkles and the words “Glazed & Confused” plastered around a big pink doughnut.

Our first days here were spent in 92-degree late October (welcome to L.A.!) breaking down boxes in the sun. Our home was coming into focus — not just the house, the place.

After 12 years of being in New York City, I felt unmoored. I didn’t realize right away that the life I was building there was a transient one. Although I had been born, raised and educated in Southern California, I felt I had to go to that hectic place to find myself. What I found was pain and stress and a blue-eyed scruffy Italian guy from North Jersey.

After three years together, we were married in Santa Monica, showing our loved ones that Southern California was home base, even if I didn’t yet understand that. California inspired our next chapter too. While honeymooning in Sonoma, we saw a farmers market stand that made hot bite-sized doughnuts to order. It sparked an idea in Dan. My home state was bearing witness to the biggest moments of our life together.

But after the wedding, we went back to where we lived, and I was reminded of my failures. I had moved to New York after college to pursue a career in writing only for my goals to coincide with the 2008 financial crisis. Then, barely a year later, my sister died of complications from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The days there felt dull and rote, like life was playing in a pre-Oz black-and-white.

While I was pivoting careers and starting a psychotherapy practice, Dan was tiring of 80-hour workweeks managing Manhattan Cold Stone franchises. He sought to build a business on his own terms. He conceived of a food truck catering company that would serve those little doughnuts, fresh and warm in a tray topped with bits and bobs in combinations called S’mores or Salted Caramel Pretzel. Glazed & Confused was born.

As Dan’s business grew, mine sputtered. The depression I had been riddled with in adolescence — where it’s so impossible to imagine having a future that you give up on creating one — had returned in a new adult form. Looking at Dan’s truck, I felt the void in the center of that pink doughnut glaring at me and saying, “There’s a piece missing.” I realized my New York life was Limbo, a suspended place and time marked by loss.

So I started planting the seed. What if we moved to L.A.?

I wasn’t sure it would work. As a therapist, I know that leaving a place doesn’t leave your struggles behind. But if my struggle was about belonging and moving forward with building a life, then I couldn’t deny where I was rooted and where I want to build. As soon as we crossed into California, I felt relief from succumbing to the magnetic pull of home. My hunch was right. We needed to be here, and this truck had brought us.

But now, would Dan come to feel unmoored? He had been born, raised and educated on the East Coast. What if I had doomed him to what I had endured back east?

In a marriage, it can be easy to forget our different emotional realities. Just to be safe, I blanketed Dan in my community, my parents, school friends and cousins who embraced him. I researched the best pizza and bagels in L.A., and we frequented Pizzeria Sei, Shins and Belle’s Bagels so that he wouldn’t feel deprived of his cherished comforts. Turns out, L.A. pizza and bagels can win over a Jersey boy.

As I felt joy looking out the window at the tips of the Dodger Stadium palm trees and the U.S. Bank building, I saw him become taken by the light and color of our hills and sky. Every morning, I’d catch him staring out the window at the glow over that 2 Freeway. I could see him feeling the pride I feel about L.A.

Sometimes I don’t feel I deserve this feeling of contentment. But also, maybe, I’d been through enough. After all, it wasn’t easy: it took a 3,000-mile, 13-year detour to get on the right path — all thanks to a cerulean doughnut truck covered in sprinkles.

The author is a writer and therapist who writes screenplays, nonfiction narratives and critical essays. She was a 2023 script competition finalist at the Austin Film Festival. She lives in Glassell Park. She’s on Instagram: @pallaviyetur

L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $400 for a published essay. Email [email protected]. You can find submission guidelines here. You can find past columns here.

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