Wednesday night, I hung out with my grandmother. We were both about to change our scenes. She was about to be able to return home from rehab (she had a hip replacement a few weeks ago), and I was flying to Los Angeles the next morning to hang out with the Rookies. “Are you ready?” she asked me. I said I wasn’t.

When I got home, I stared at everything I had laid out on my floor to bring. I do this whenever I’m about to travel: stare zombie-style at all of my clothes and crap and prepare myself for the trip. I ran everything over in my mind. My flights, the order of the Rookie events, the people I would see. Since this trip would be my graduation present from my grandmother and uncle, they put me in the W hotel in Hollywod. Also, since my parents were being so loving and caring (obnoxiously overprotective), they wanted to make sure I had a chaperone of sorts. WHO WAS DYLAN OMG OMG OMG. So thank you, parents, for being frustratingly untrusting, because Dylan is so fly.

The W hotel is the funniest thing ever. It’s the kind of place Tom Haverford would dream about all of the time. 90% of the women there wore these dresses that were like HERE’S MY BODY, and all of the dudes looked like wannabe CEOs. The spy holes on the doors were bedazzled, there was a gourmet-dog-food menu, and the walls of the elevators were covered in some sort of sparkly faux snakeskin. Basically, everything sparkled. It was a million degrees removed from the world I’m used to. Are there people who are actually used to that kind of thing? People who feel like that’s where they belong and that’s what they deserve?

When I got to the hotel, I met up with Dylan and her friends, and we hit the ROOFTOP POOL like the SUPERSTARS we are. The pool was more hilarity, because the music was all unst unst unst and boop da doop. People wore bikini thongs and drank crazy-expensive cocktails. Dylan and I attempted to lie out on floaties in the pool. Dylan succeeded. I failed. Luxury is hard, yo.

We went to go see Mindy Kaling do a Q&A at the Rookie event that night. I got to see the space and all the Rookies for the first time. It felt very unreal as it was happening. After, a bunch of us hung out at a diner. Dylan, her friend, and I returned to the hotel and danced in our room all night. We called the front desk and ordered these white bathrobes. At one point, we ran through the halls, pulling the “do not disturb” tickets out of every door and throwing them on the ground, laughing maniacally. It’s my new favorite game.

We drove around L.A. the next day and ended up hanging out in Los Feliz. We listened to awesome people read at the event Friday night and got to read ourselves. We jammed out at a King Tuff concert that was SO RAD, then we had a sleepover in our hotel with a bunch o’ Rookies. We ate junk food and stayed up telling first-kiss stories. I felt weird for a little bit because I didn’t have one, but it’s not even that big of a deal. All the same, could someone just make out with me already? Like, I brush my teeth, I swear.

Friday night, when everyone else went to sleep, I stayed awake. I never wanted to close my eyes. I kept on replaying everything that had happened to me in L.A. I just kept on thinking I love this, I love this, I love this. I replayed again and again all of us trying to go up to the rooftop pool after it had closed for what looked like a private party. Dressed in bathrobes, we sneakily took the freight elevator up to the top floor, opened the door to the pool, and were met by an angry security guard barking, “Seven intruders, SEVEN INTRUDERS” into his walkie-talkie. We high-tailed it back to the elevator, dying of laughter.

I stayed up thinking about everyone who had read at the Rookie story hour, as well as everyone’s first-kiss stories. I think the fact that we had talked so much that night was what kept me up. I was in love with everyone’s stories and energy—the world felt like it was a place filled with people who were creative and thoughtful and had great capacities to love.

Everything felt important, because Rookie has been so important to me. As I was slowly losing my friends, I was given all of this. This community of people with stories that make me feel like everything is bursting with meaning. It’s like being inside of a Kay Ryan poem.

Right now I’m in San Francisco with my aunt and uncle and my new cousin. I’m exhausted, but I still don’t want to go to sleep. I want to be back in L.A., listening to stories. Falling in love with everyone and wishing that I would never have to go home.

There’s this part in Stephen Fry’s autobiography where he talks about the first boy he ever fell in love with when he was younger. After seeing this kid, he went back to his dorm and took out a piece of paper. On it, he wrote, “I love Matthew Osborne.” He thought for a moment, realized that wasn’t all he felt, and wrote underneath, “Everything is different.”

This is how I feel now, except it isn’t about a boy or anything. It’s about these people and this city. I wish this was everyone and here was everywhere. Does that make sense?

It’s like this: I love Rookie and L.A. and stories and writing and meeting people. I love almost getting in trouble at a stupid sparkly hotel and dancing at shows. I love staying up all night because I love all of these things, and I love wondering and hoping that everybody feels this way too.

I love all of this.

Everything is different. ♦