Stacey Kenyon: ‘I just felt like it was time to breathe’

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Stacey on Main Street with the downtown skyline in the background. And some snow.

Stacey on Main Street with the downtown skyline in the background. And some snow.

Stacey Kenyon Kansas City, Missouri 

“I just felt like it was time to breathe.”

It has been said that Los Angeles is becoming a city of renters. The California dream of owning a house with a backyard and an orange tree is almost out of reach for a middle class family. If you’re a single 40-year-old woman with a good job in construction management like Stacey Kenyon, it’s impossible.

“I was going to turn forty and you know some people want to have children. I just want to own a house and I got to the point where I realized if I want to buy a house in the area that I like I can’t do it by myself,” she said.

“I don’t want to have to be married. I don’t want to have to have a boyfriend, mate, whatever, to buy a home so I can afford the $2100 mortgage. Here in Kansas City, you can buy a really great historical homes for $200,000.”

Stacey said she used to think of leaving L.A. as giving up. But then she realized she would be happier in her hometown. “I gained a lot from being out there [in L.A.] and there’s nothing to be ashamed of for coming home,” she said.

What are the things that you learned in L.A. that you took with you back to Kansas City?

I think people are more aggressive business-wise in L.A. than here in Kansas City. There seems to be a glass ceiling on concepts and ideas and ‘this is what we think we can do,’ whereas in Los Angeles people really shot as far as they could go and they came up with some really great things.

What do you miss about L.A.?

I lived near Sunset and Laurel Canyon and I walked everywhere from Trader Joes to my favorite bar to CVS to restaurants, everything. And here and you don’t do that as much. For one thing we’re in the middle of winter. There is snow on the ground outside. But also people here get in a car and drive. I miss it outdoors.

I also miss the live music seven nights a week if you want to find it. There are more creative people there than here and any day you go out you can you could do anything. You can go look at architectural salvage, you can go see art. While they have those things here, they don’t vary as much. I guess it’s part of being in a smaller city.

What is a reasonable expectation for life as a forty-year-old woman?

I just feel like security – and security would be owning rather than renting. If you have a financial stumble, whether it’s a car issue or you have to switch jobs or whatever, not having to panic. And although I felt like I really was professionally successful, I loved my job that I had in Los Angeles, I actually miss it a lot, I always felt like there’s a chance to stumble there and that I might not be able to recover.

Has it changed you to be back?

Here I’m getting involved in more community-oriented things. I was involved with the Hollywood Hills West neighborhood council. Here I can go to the Parks and Rec board meetings I’m going and getting involved with this new cultural district charrette that’s going on this weekend.

I can get involved with economic development councils and where I live and where I work. I feel like maybe it’s because the city is geographically smaller, there’s more possibilities of getting involved. Maybe it’s because I’m spending less time on the road I have more time to go get involved, to use my voice to contribute ideas and that kind of thing.

Also…

I’ve been a life long Kansas City Royals fan. They won the World Series when I was eleven-years-old and ever since then they’ve been my team. I don’t care how many games a year they lose, I love them and nobody can take that away from me. So when I came back and by some great fortune they got in a playoffs and they went to the World Series, it felt like some silly universe thing. Like the universe was giving me a hug and telling me I did the right thing by moving back to Kansas City from Los Angeles.

I know it sounds silly but I love them so much.