Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Bus of Hopeful Cliche'

I did not arrive in Hollywood on the clichéd Greyhound bus with an old wicker suitcase in hand. I didn’t have to deal with an aging seat mate falling asleep and drooling on my shoulder or getting propositioned in a truck stop by the recently paroled con. The joys of interstate bus travel as I imagine it. No, I drove my own Uhaul. I’m a modern girl after all. I had my own road adventures.

For a while a biker dude drove next to me waving and smiling. I used to date a biker dude so I was disposed to be friendly to them. We managed a screamed chat over the road noise but then he motioned to pull over together and I regretted telling him I was heading to LA. He veered off at the next rest stop, I guess assuming I’d follow. When I didn’t he revved up next to me again and grabbed his crotch.

“You want some of this?” He grinned.

I decided the incredulous are-you-freaking-kidding? cackle that rose in my throat wouldn’t be the best answer. I’d run out of gas before he would. So I declined more politely.

“You sure?” He seemed genuinely surprised.

“Um, yeah.”

I looked over at Simon, my dog, wishing he was more ferocious looking. He smiled and stuck his furry head back out the window. As the biker rode off into the traffic ahead, I wondered how often that approach worked for him. I mean clearly it must from time to time. Or he’s a slow learner.

In a weird, dead-end town somewhere in Nevada, I managed to find a motel that allowed dogs. They’ve probably changed their policy by now once they saw just how much hair a giant collie-shepherd could shed in 6 hours. The lobby offered powered coffee and powdered milk along with fridge magnets shaped like chilies and adobe ovens. I admired a plastic flower arrangement while chatting with the front desk manager. Moving there had been her big dream. She came from an even more dead-end town than that one. She’d met a local fireman and moved for him.

I could understand. My impetuous LA move was not the first time I’d up and moved cross country. And I’d done it for a guy once too. Years ago when I was fresh out of school and floundering in an Ad Agency next to the Levi’s offices in San Francisco. Mom decided we should break with stuffy Thanksgiving tradition and go on a cruise instead. So we did. And on this cruise there was an up and coming New York Talent Agent and his family thinking the same thing.

Agent Man and I had the full blown romance, days together alone on gorgeous beaches in our ports-of-call (thank you, gracious family), staying up all night so we wouldn’t miss one minute of each other. Get this: we even entered the ship’s talent show with a ridiculous version of "Summer Nights" from "Grease." Yeah, we’re both Leos. The families all met. We talked about the future. It was like six months of dating condensed into a week. Within two months of returning to our respective coasts, it was decided that I would pack it in at my SF job and move to New York. With a start that movie-esque, how could it not work out, right?

I should have suspected something when “If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere” rang more like dark foreshadowing than blithe invitation. Not that it wasn’t a great relationship and an important learning experience for me. But at the end of the day, I’m a western girl and I couldn’t hang with the east coast vibe. I asked him if we could move to LA since his agency had offices on both coasts. He considered it but at the end of his day, he told me, he was a hard core New Yorker and couldn’t bear to leave. I had to. So after three years in New York City I went home to the mountains. There, I created a comfortable but stagnant life for myself.

I flew out here a few years ago to check things out. It was fall. I wore a tank top where back in the mountains I’d have worn a down coat. I was thrilled by the autumnal magic of heat. Entire days with a peculiar golden-hour light. It made my inner feline stretch into a belly-flop on the carpet. I couldn’t wait to go home and pack.

Ironically, it wasn’t California that didn’t work for the Agent Man. It was just me. He’s married now to some network execu-chick and lives here too. I could get all “Oh the injustice!” about it but, yes, I really believe that if it was meant to be, it would have been. I like to doubt that she deserves him but the reality is she’s probably a great girl. Who knows, they say even good guys get ruined after three years in LA. Maybe she’s a shrew and they deserve each other just fine.

We haven’t spoken in a long time. Marriage and all, you know. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before I run into him at some function or premiere and I’ll pretend it’s not awkward. In the realm of actual relationships, he’s the closest I’ve ever come to true love. I saw in the trades he’s headed to mucky-mucksville. Good for him. I say blithely if you can make it here, you really can make it anywhere.

That last day in the Uhaul, I mistook my jittery hands for too much powdered coffee. I chalked part of it off to the excitement of starting a new life in a new place. I’d been excited when I’d moved to New York too. But these flutters were more than just new possibilities and extra caffeine.

Then it dawned on me as I hit the tangle of freeway interchanges that is the first sign of outer LA: this time it’s for me.

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4 Comments:

Blogger DiverCat said...

Hey, great story. I enjoyed the bit about the move, but the stuff about AgentMan's marriage didn't work for me. It sort of seemed out of place, not in keeping with the tone of the rest of the piece. Enjoy that beautiful weather out there! Not that I am remotely jealous or anything . . . .

11:43 AM  
Blogger Mike H said...

Love the biker story. Remind me one day to tell you about when I drove from the Wisconsin farm thru the Nevada desert and was taken by a shady gas station attendant to buy four new Pirelli tires because "those WI snow tires will burst out there in that heat". What did I know???

3:39 PM  
Blogger ProoudDad said...

Had a terrific time with you in Cabo...and it was great to see that most of the traces of naivete on your part are rapidly disappearing and you're emerging from your cacoon state into a beautiful butterfly--one that's not only 'hopeful' but also extremely creative and talented...I can't wait to see your first screen play....I'm sure that it'll be a terric success! And you will be too!

7:24 PM  
Blogger Neal Romanek said...

Welcome.

9:47 AM  

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