In the past days I’ve been trying to write a post sharing about my first week here in L.A., and also reaching out for any connections and suggestions anyone might have for production work and housing opportunities.
“Trying” being the key word there. I’d write, get distracted, open email, check for texts, gaze out at the gorgeous ocean view from my counter seat at Starbucks, clear old documents from my desktop.
I’ve been really struggling with this one. I think because it is hard to ask for help, and because I’m worried about being criticized for my decisions.
My current living arrangements, which I’m so grateful for, end in less than a week. I’d really hoped to have been able to find a job, even if it is a one-day gig, somewhere, maybe meet more people, and get insight into where in this vast city I would most want to look for housing before needing to move on.
And though I’d hoped to get here sooner to meet up with people, circumstances prevented me from getting to Los Angeles until last week, the week before Thanksgiving. The holiday time is challenging because many people are out of town, or have in-town guests, or are simply booked up with other plans.
I have been able to get together with some friends though, and that has made a difference. It’s been wonderful catching up, and having them each provide their own tips and advice. Plus, Terry, my friend who opened his home to me for a place to land, drove me around a good portion of town, and that was really nice to see many of the sections of Los Angeles and very helpful in giving me a little sense of the area.
The other day as I sat at the coffee shop, with my laptop in front of me, I thought it would be a good thing if I worked on one of my screenplays instead. Perhaps I might feel some reprieve from the pressure of job and house hunting. But nothing would come. I felt empty.
Driving to town that morning, I had said to my sweetheart on the phone, “I just wish I could make one connection today. It would be a relief and so encouraging.”
However, I knew already that no one I’d been in touch with was available that day.
Sitting there with the sun glaring down on me through the window, and thinking about being away from my sweetheart on Thanksgiving, and missing Daddy like you wouldn’t believe, I was feeling so detached.
Why would I come here with no job? I had to remind myself that in this business it is hard enough to get hired, but even tougher if you don’t have your ‘face in the place.’ Some of my local friends have said the same thing.
How could I drive to L.A. without a place to live? Because I don’t want to pick a random roommate off the Internet and agree to a lease sight unseen. Plus, it is hard to get a place, though not impossible, without being employed.
Decisions I had made, not right or wrong, but ones I had made. I know if I hadn’t made those decisions, and come on out here, it is likely I’d still be in Colorado searching for the courage to do something, that ‘someday’ dream. But at the moment, I was frustrated.
I thought about leaving and forgetting the post for the day. I made myself sit back down and open up my computer.
But instead of opening my blog program to finish writing the post, I randomly clicked on a folder, and then opened a file that I had no idea what it contained. More diversion stalling tactic. The document turned out to be notes from a day in 2015 when I was in Ohio with Daddy.
He didn’t want to get up. He said he was more tired than he has ever been in his whole life. He said it feels like someone came and just took everything out of him and left him nothing.
I told him I was sorry he felt so tired. And that they didn’t take me, he still has me.
I remember that day. He did finally get out of bed. And we went and sat on a bench outside in the late afternoon sun. We ate dinner at the table in his apartment and laughed. As the evening went on, he said he was feeling much better.
Now two years later, sitting here in L.A., after reading the note, my eyes teared up. I sat and stared at the screen for at least five minutes. Not for what felt like five minutes. But an entire five minutes. Then, slowly shifting my eyes away from my screen, I glanced to my right. A young girl near me, waiting for her drink, gave me a smile. I turned up the corners of my lips wanting to be cordial. She looked at my computer and asked if I was writing a book. Not sure why I said this, but I told her I was working on a script.
There are a million people in this town writing scripts, and many of them actually worked on them that day. So I felt like a poser even as the words had come out of my mouth, and even more as her eyes widened.
She said, “I would like reading your script someday. You seem poetic.”
I’m not positive what ‘poetic’ seems like, but it felt like a good thing. Particularly coming from a kind young woman on a day when I was feeling like Daddy had, like someone had “come and taken everything out of me.”
Next thing I knew, I found myself telling her that I was kind of working on the script, but I was also trying to find a place to live. She nodded knowingly.
She asked if the script is my life story. I told her it is based on a part of my life, as well as a part of many women’s lives that I know.
“Is it like Steel Magnolias with a group of women?” she asked. I told her it follows one woman’s story, but she is affected by other women she comes into contact with.
Then this lady asked me if I was rushing myself to get the script done, or if I felt I could take my time. Though I was caught off guard by the question, I opened up about feeling pressure to work on it, and that some days I can enjoy the process, and other days I fight it. And that maybe I was silly to have come to California without an income lined up.
She went on to say, “God has it worked out. We think it’d be nice if we knew his plan, but that’s not always the case.” She said it took courage to come out here, but I had made the drive, so it was meant to be. She looked at me and said, “I can tell you are going to be okay.”
At the mention of ‘God’ a fence started to go up. I respect people’s religious beliefs, but when she fearlessly went public with her mention of ‘God’ to a person she doesn’t know, I was apprehensive. Was she going to try to get me to come to services? Join a cult? Hand me a pamphlet? Ask me to go with her to more coffee shops to find others to convert?
Breathe. What did I have to lose? If she went down a path I wasn’t comfortable with, I could say, “No, thanks.”
So, instead of backing off, I hung in there with her and the conversation. She asked what my first name is and more of my situation such as what part of town I was staying in.
Then I was surprised when she asked if she could pray for me. I presumed she meant she would say a prayer next time she was at church.
I said, “Sure, thank you.”
Right then she came over and rested her hand on me. As she said a prayer, asking God to help me with my “journey”, I listened, and then, taking my timid eyes from the counter in front of me, looked at her T-shirt. It was adorned with a graphic of three doves.
‘Hear Peace. See Peace. Speak Peace.’
As she continued, for a moment I felt slightly embarrassed if anyone else was watching us. Her standing there, hand on my shoulder, me on my stool at the counter. But then I realized, there was no need to be embarrassed. A stranger was extending care and compassion–why should I feel uncomfortable?
Someone I didn’t even know saw me and reached out to me, calling me “poetic”. Then, asking for nothing from me, she went on to do what is her form of speaking to the Universe, and she prayed for me.
As she left, I asked her name. “Babylonia,” she said. Then she smiled, picked up her drink from the counter, and walked out of the shop.
I’d made a connection. Not the kind I was thinking, but I don’t know where help will come from or exactly where opportunities will be.
And that’s my lesson. Where I will find my answers very often may not be the direction I am looking, and I am open to opportunity coming from unexpected places. That is how we learn. That is how we grow. That is how we connect.
That is poetic peace.