Wednesday, January 04, 2006

There's Anyplace Like Home

I was sitting on my quaint front porch swing of my quaint cottage looking at the big mountains when my dad called. He was glad my life had settled into a happy ease. “But what are you going to do?” He wanted to know. “What do you want?”

I sat on my quaint front porch swing some more and thought. I loved my mountains and never wanted to leave. But I also wanted, I discovered, to create something that inspired me. I wanted to write again. I wanted to make movies that inspired people. My quaint little mountain town was not the place to be. I wrenched myself out of my own nest and set out.

After two years in Hollywood, I went back to the mountains recently. I wanted to spend my birthday at home and visit my old haunts. I wasn’t exactly expecting a fanfare when I walked into the Irish pub where I used to work, but a small cheer would have been nice. Confetti maybe? After two years, most of my friends have moved on. A handful were still there and willing to raise a pint with me. I regaled them with tales of celeb sightings and gave a detailed description of the golf cart I get to drive at my cool Studio job. No writing success yet though.

Even the most provincial of the barflies asked if I am honestly surprised that I haven’t sold a script yet. The others collectively raised an eye brow over their pints of porter. Yes, I really did think there was gold in them thar pages. I figured the same innate ease of wordsmithing that had allowed me to skate through school, prose assignments and heartfelt thank you notes would serve me here in Hollywood as well.

What I’ve learned is this script stuff is – newsflash - actually really hard. Sure a lot of crap gets made and that’s a whole ‘nother story. To all the Mabels and Jethros who stand up in their armchairs, indignantly brandishing their Blockbuster rental over their heads and crying “I could write this stuff!” I am here to say no, you can’t. Well alright maybe, but you have to come here and tear your heart out on a daily basis first, let someone stomp all over it, thank them for their feedback, rewrite everything you just did and then offer your heart again. Rinse, wrench, repeat. Come to think of it, it’s not too different from dating.

Anything worth reading (or seeing on the big screen) has someone’s whole heart in it. At first this scared the crap out of me. But then I figured what else am I going to do with this life? Isn’t this more interesting than the corporate advertising and marketing that was my bread and butter? To me, yes. Sure, feeding myself and paying rent is also interesting. But having conquered my ten-year fear of Hollywood from way back in my senior year of college, I’m out to create a fully-lived life.

That weekend back home, my brother, the Undaunted Graphic Designer, took me to a sandwich shop for lunch. As we munched our pastramis at a sidewalk table I became increasingly restless. The sky at home was a blue impossible for LA. And the quiet… I finally told him “You know what’s different? If this were LA, this street would be clogged with cars, there’d be a valet stand there, and we’d have seen at least three Ferraris by now.” We laughed but there was something nagging at me in that small truth. I realized I couldn’t take the quiet, solid reality of home anymore. I had fallen head-over-trendy-metallic-heels in love with LA. I couldn’t wait to get back to my superficial, consumerist, overcrowded, overpriced home. There’s something gratifying in the make-believe of it all but I think what I really love is the predicable unpredictability of it all. Sure, there are the Hollywood players that are always gonna get their deals together. But you really don’t know who the next fresh energy is going to be. Besides, my brother up and moved to Seattle last week. He was the last vestige of family at home. If home is where the heart is, then I have fragmented rooms all over the world.

I had a professor who said that every possible story has already been told. The only thing that makes yours different and with any luck, interesting, is that you are the one telling it. So I’m here, telling it and yes, I really do think that one day, trite as it may sound, I’ll see my name after the “written by” on the big screen. And yes, next year when I go home to visit, if my friends ask “did you still really think you’d have sold something by now?” I’ll still say yes if I honestly can. If I can’t I’ll donate my shiny LA shoes, re-tie my hiking boots and ask the barman for my own pint of porter.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Kid Sis said...

Beautiful.

12:59 PM  

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