For 6 months after college, I served slop, answered phones, videotaped other people making memories and sold the only remaining evidence I had of a broken engagement. That time in my life represents several endings to many chapters. Doors closed, never to open again. Yet I was ok. I had hope.
Then one day, on a whim, I made a phone call and packed my car with anything I considered valuable and headed west. I had nowhere to stay once I got there, no friends to call my own, no job prospect in line. But I had hope. Stupid, ridiculous, unreliable hope. I had nothing to lose, yet everything to gain.
Once I arrived in the Promised Land, things just fell together. This was good, all was right. For the first time in my life, I felt my heart was free. It wasn’t easy, but I made it work. Through hard work, determination, and bouts of poverty, I thrived. After a childhood of comfort, I quickly learned what it was like to survive off of $3 a day and a flat mattress on a cold hardwood floor.
I signed up with an entertainment temp agency and began working regularly. The money slowly came trickling in. After 6 months, I was able to afford a cheap bed from Sears and better quality food in my fridge. I still shopped at the Dollar Store on Wilshire for my other necessities, but it was all good. I was doing this on my own. I had hope. I would spend my weekends at either Venice or Santa Monica beach. When I was near the ocean, my soul was content. I was happy in a way I had never known. I was exactly where I meant to be.
A year later, I received a call that would change my life. A major motion picture company wanted to hire me as a Page in the Guest Relations department. Grunt work for shit pay, but a step in the right direction. A huge door had opened, and I said YES!
I was a just silly girl from the south side of Chicago, a nobody. I always wanted the best but expected the worst. So this was big. I happily threw on my polyester suit and did my job, and I did it well. Walking around sound-stages, talking with talent, driving them around the lot, running personal errands, it was all good. I was their Girl Friday, and I was thrilled. I had hope. I saw things I never expected, sometimes at a shocking level, yet always held my mid-western composure. I said yes please and no thank you more times than I can count.
But with experience comes education. And I soaked that shit up. My hard work got noticed, and eventually I received a phone call from the director of the Academy Awards. A huge door had opened, and I said YES!
Gil was a beautiful man. He treated me kindly, and we laughed often. He would refer to me as ‘Taradahhhhling’, his thick New York accent always in place. I loved it. He made me smile every day. When he passed away in October of 2011, I was devastated. Yet I am thankful for what he taught me. He made me a better person. I will always hold him close to my heart. I wouldn’t trade those days for all the diamonds in the world. Death is easy. Life is hard. If I made his life just this much easier, then I feel I’ve done a great job.
Eventually, I chose to leave that life and move away. Not out of exhaustion, but for dreams of something more. Love, marriage, family, a solid house. I had hope. Another door opened, and I said YES!
I will always be a mid-western girl in soul, yet always an L.A. Lady at spirit. Young, free, content.
Filled with hope, and always with an open heart.