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Missoula to LA, and Back Again

Updated: Apr 9


Written by Syann Stevens

Photo Cred Melissa Hayes, JSJ & City Sponsored Candy Chang Project, Downtown Missoula



"It was in moments like this, with unconditional acts of kindness, my Missoula and LA friends, became my family."



Missoula, Montana (April 7th, 2021) - In my early 20’s I moved to Los Angeles after graduating from college at the University of Montana. My good friend from our graduating department helped me pack my little car and took a nearly 1200 mile road trip with nothing but a single backpack for him, and a bunch of books and a small amount of personal clothing for me. It was not a comfortable trip, as we wound around the tight curves of the Pacific Coast Highway in Oregon all the way through the state of California to arrive in SoCal. However, like a member of my family, he never hesitated to make sure I arrived safely.


It was not a comfortable trip, as we wound around the tight curves of the Pacific Coast Highway in Oregon all the way through the state of California to land in Los Angeles. However, like a member of my family, he never hesitated to make sure I arrived safely.

Shortly after landing in LA, the cost of living came as a shock as I navigated the streets of a city with nearly 18 million people compared to Missoula’s almost 100,000. About four years into my fifteen-year chapter of LA I found myself unable to pay the new rent increase of my apartment in The Valley, which is actually the more economical area of Los Angeles. Out of the kindness of their hearts, several new-found-friends volunteered their couches and even their beds, moving in with personal friends of theirs, while I got myself on my feet. I remember one new-found-friend even offered and did in fact take three large boxes of my shoes that he stored in the back of his SUV for three months, while they baked in the California sun, and no doubt left an unpleasant odor in his car for about 90 days.


I remember one new-found-friend even offered and did in fact take three large boxes of my shoes that he stored in the back of his SUV for three months, while they baked in the California sun, and no doubt left an unpleasant odor in his car for about 90 days.

A back story into this particular friend’s personality, all things in his life are clean and orderly with no surprises. For him to do this was the ultimate act of kindness. I look back on this time with complete and total gratitude for the people who stepped up without having to ask in both Missoula and LA, and who sacrificed their own personal comfort to make sure I made it to my destination and to the end of my decade-and-a-half long adventure in the sunny city. It was in moments like this, with unconditional acts of kindness, my Missoula and LA friends, became my family.


About Your Neighbor:



Syann Stevens is a Missoula-born native who graduated from the University of Montana in 2004. She lived in Los Angeles for 15 years where she started and worked for several tech and software companies including Uniregistry, was a writer for MSMedia, became a member of SAG-AFTRA, and taught Yoga and led Guided Meditation to companies like Sony Playstation, Hulu, and Warner Brothers. Syann is a co-founder of TAP and a proud dog foster and adopter. Find her on TAPMissoula.



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