Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hollywood Update #30: Road to Joy

April 8, 2005

After selling off most of my furniture, I spent my last week in Hollywood stranded oh-so-not-glamourously on my two remaining chairs, staring at an empty bookcase and watching too much TV. Before the new owners took away my IKEA sofa, I spent a few restless nights there after the bed was gone, waking up to wonder what party I might have passed out at the night before. Then I’d remember that the last thing I did before falling asleep was drink a glass of soy milk, watch Nanny 911, and play three games of solitaire with the Sex in Ancient Greece playing cards that a friend sent me as a joke. Then the sofa was claimed, so I spent one night on the floor (note to self: a yoga mat is NOT a Therma-rest) before breaking down and buying an inflatable mattress. Stinkey, on the other hand, went home to the condo a week before me, and spent seven nights on my queen-size pillow-top bed.

In a pre-move purge, I emptied the fridge of everything except a leftover pizza and couple of Tupperwares I was too scared to open. I ate my last meal at Kabuki Sushi, probably putting a dent in their monthly revenue, and visited the Bowery for one last serving of The Best Onion Rings Ever Fried. I enjoyed my last tacos at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, drank my last latte at Coffee Bean. For breakfast on my last day in Hollywood, I had two Girl Scout cookies and a can of V-8.

I packed my car and sent the big stuff away with a moving company on Friday morning, which meant I had eight hours of homelessness to fill before Laural’s plane arrived in Burbank. I don’t care how much it benefited Hilary Swank, living in one’s car in L.A. sucks, no matter how nicely buffed and freshly vacuumed it is.

When she arrived, Laural and I drove south to San Diego for a visit with her sister, brother-in-law, and niece—enjoyable except for a (non-fatal) lizard-bite incident. Sunday we drove through the rain from San Diego to Redding, stopping in Williams for olives and sandwiches, listening to the Eskalators (appearing live at the Wild Buffalo on April 22nd!!!) as we drove. We spent a night resting with our gracious host Michelle in Portland. Tuesday we drove through sunny, warm Washington to Seattle to see my brother, Dave, a stay-at-home dad, and his 4-month old son. Dave coached me through a diaper change by continually telling me it went “around the butt and up over the groin area… It's self-contained and fairly explanatory.” Apparently he’s learned many of his parenting skills by watching Raising Arizona.

Tuesday afternoon, we arrived in Bellingham. The sun was shining, my condo hadn’t burned down, and I was greeted at the door by a slightly befuddled, but ultimately happy (to judge from the screeching), Stincki. I think Laural will agree that except for the one red light I ran and the time I backed into a truck in the Thriftway parking lot, our journey was generally safe and peaceful. I didn’t even make her listen to any country music…although I did sing along to Joni Mitchell and “The Circle Game.” The circles, of course, do go round and round, and there’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty before the last revolving year is through.

A few final thoughts:

“Wherever you go, there you are.” -Zen Saying
It’s true, but not always in the way I wanted it to be. I brought the best parts of myself to L.A., but unfortunately, the crap hitched a ride. I had amazing days in which I felt generous and kind and funny and smart, followed by nights in which I was certain that I was the biggest dork in Hollywood. I wrote and made cards and art projects and Christmas presents and felt like an exotic blend of Andy Warhol and Martha Stewart, only smilier. I tried to add a little urban flair to my apartment with purple Christmas lights, artificial plants and cheap IKEA furniture, and I felt sort of big-city-hip in a Carrie-Bradshaw-meets-Marian-the-Librarian kind of way—I wore expensive shoes, but they were very, very sensible.

Mostly, though, I started a lot of sentences with, “At my place in Bellingham…” and “there’s this really neat ___ in Bellingham…” and “my friends in Bellingham…” and it didn’t matter how cool my job was, or that I could spit on Michael Jackson’s star whenever I wanted, or that I could have liquor delivered to my apartment at 4:27 a.m. Day One in Hollywood=homesick. Day 300 in Hollywood=homesicker.

“More than kisses, letters mingle souls.” -poet John Donne
I was sustained, enriched, enlightened, amused, and talked off the ledge by the generous words of encouragement from friends back home. I looked forward to opening my mailbox, and treasured letters and cards from Laural, Michelles C and R, Noah and Dana, Amy, Carol, Susan, Dana, Mom and Dad, Jill, Bradbury, the Farnand Five, Curl, and Diane. On days when the YOU HAVE NEW MAIL indicator hit double-digits, it was a cause for joy. I was kept afloat by messages from special friends around the world: Christina, Colin, Jeff, Ryan, Todd L., the Brubakers, Eriqqa, Blythe, Scott and Iris, Rhonda, Mark and Ariel; the Johnsons; Dave, Michelle, and Thomas; Stephan, Cam, Martha and Dan, the Bradburys, Glen and Sue, Chuck and Dee, Jasmine, Anne K., Marilyn M., Barb S., Mom and Dad, and everyone who wrote to remind me that there’s a world out there, waiting and wonderful and full of fun people to come home to.

“…last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” –T.S. Eliot

Next stop: the classroom. I’m excited about returning to BEHS for the rest of the school year as a long-term sub for my friend, Jen, a new mom. I’ll teach ninth grade English and creative writing and try not to warp any teenagers too badly. Next year I’ll return to the library to continue building my legacy as the loudest librarian in the universe. This summer, I plan to write, soak up the sun, do lots of hot yoga, attend my class reunion, be a nanny, visit my neighborhood babies everyday, watch Thomas grow, pet Stinke, help Kosha age with style and grace, and relish the incredibly rich life I have here in the best home I’ve ever known. I can hardly wait.


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