As I so often do while driving in Los Angeles, I use my Waze app to navigate through city traffic, winding my way from ABC Prospect Studios in Franklin Hills back to my home near Culver City. I head west on Beverly Blvd., following the instructions from the posh British voice Waze identifies as “Natalie.” I’m sleepy, having risen before the sunrise for an early call time, and to be honest, a bit preoccupied. But as I turn left onto Van Ness, I’m suddenly struck by the expansive palm tree-lined boulevard – substantially wider than your average L.A. street – the stately homes, and most especially, the immaculate gardens, bursting with vibrant roses in full, fragrant bloom. I don’t think. I pull over and park.
I wander around for a few minutes, taking it in, feeling slightly guilty about my aimless meandering. I need to get home; I have things to do. I need to check on actor submissions for the casting notice I posted for my play, War Stories. Tomorrow is also my last official day of work, and I still have plenty of emails to send and loose ends to tie up. This interlude to – literally – stop and smell the roses is poorly timed.
But I have a thing for roses. They remind me of my childhood, of my grandfather’s meticulously tended garden in West Seattle. But it’s more than that. There’s something about the flower that has always felt optimistic to me. Maybe it’s the fact that there are so many different varietals, each uniquely designed to thrive in a particular environment. I like the idea that regardless of weather – heat, cold, whatever – there is a type of rose best suited to that climate. Roses are versatile, adaptable. Roses continue to bloom.
There are only six weeks left until the opening night of War Stories at Hollywood Fringe Festival. As I write that sentence, I feel my chest tighten. There is so much to do. We’ve only just found our cast, and now the race is on to rehearse, stage, market, tech, and handle all of the logistics. We have six weeks to go from here to brilliant.
And yet, this will also be the first time I’ve tackled the tremendous job of producing theater without, at the same time, holding down a full time job. So while there is a lot to do, I will have more time than I’ve ever had in which to do it. But I think the part that’s really bothering me is this: between all the rehearsals and production meetings and networking events, I don’t have any windows of time to hop on a plane and get out of town. I can’t leave. And while there will be lots of work to do in the coming weeks, there will also be lots of downtime. Empty spaces in my days to think and sit with myself and sort out the enormous “what do I want to do with my life?” question. Which is exactly the point, exactly why I wanted this free time in the first place. Isn’t it?
I am keenly aware of that fact that the space I occupy is rarified. I live in a sprawling city full of possibility that I suddenly, sans day job, have plenty of time to explore. I know interesting, creative, soulful people. I have a backlog of rain-checked coffee and lunch and happy hour dates that I can finally make good on. There are conversations to be had, brains to be picked, dreams to be shared. It’s exciting, I know this. But I also know that in order to embrace this current moment in my life, I have to stop tying myself up in knots over all of my stupid fears and insecurities. I have to get out of my own way.
The day after my drive down Van Ness, I sit on my patio, sipping a glass of wine and scribbling notes for this blog. It’s Friday evening, and I’m toasting the end of one (eleven year long) chapter and the beginning of the next one. As I write in my journal, laying my anxieties out onto the page, the sun slips low behind my favorite palm tree. It’s remarkably quiet for a Friday evening on a busy street in the heart of Los Angeles. And then it happens: a red mustang convertible turns onto my street, top down, speakers blaring. Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” echoes out into the night, and I start to laugh in spite of myself. The song is an unlikely, anachronistic choice for 2016 and yet, it’s perfectly timed. Because you see, in addition to roses, I also have a thing for Sinatra. And so, I decide to take it as a sign. A sign not to worry so much about what the future holds. A sign that the future will take care of itself. A sign that tempted as I am to keep running, that right here, right now, is exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Until next time, friends.