Four Days In L.A. (Part 2)

I got off the plane at LAX around 3pm on Saturday July 23rd.

I stop in at the International terminal, and I immediately think how I am going to be surrounded by anyone other than Americans so I should watch out for European families on vacation, dressed in tacky print shirts, khaki shorts, fanny packs, and middle-aged men wearing sandals that have no right to do so. It’s the only terminal that you can just walk into and get a drink at a bar without having a ticket to board a plane, so I sit at some pizza restaurant and order a skinny bitch, otherwise known as a vodka and diet coke.

I know you’re probably laughing at the fact that I sometimes order that drink, but it tastes good to me, and even if I’m hungover the next day  I surprisingly still enjoy drinking diet coke so that says something about the truth of my addiction to diet soft drinks. Probably not the worst thing in the world. I mean, it’s not like I’m a heroin addict.

I text Tasha that I’m on the Departures level of the International terminal because it’s less busy and easier to pick up people than on Arrivals. Thirty minutes later as I’ve been waiting outside on the top level for her to pull up, and after I specifically text her two more times to make sure she chooses the Departues lane when she gets to the airport, she calls me to tell me she’s on the Arrivals level. Of course she is.

I’ve known Tasha for over 9 years now, and the fact that I made a point to make sure she knew where to go, and she ended up not going where I told her to go doesn’t surprise me at all. That’s just Tasha. There are some people who can connect the dots when driving cars and multi task like a pro and who also have a good sense of direction. Sadly, this is not Tasha, but she makes up for it so many other ways that it doesn’t really bother me. I remember when it used to, when we dated almost 7 years ago and we were the pinnacle example of a hot and cold couple, which probably had everything to do with how dramatic we both were. I’m sure it was no accident that Katy Perry had a song out that year by the same name.

Thing is, Tasha is one of my favorite people and the only ex of mine that I became best friends with after we broke up. It was almost like life wouldn’t let us NOT be friends. After the relationship we worked together, we lost a pet together, we went to all my friends weddings together, and then we created a televison show, sold it, and then lost the deal together. She’s my best friend and we’ve been through some good times, some difficult times, and some shit times, and all of that has led up to this momemt, me returning to L.A. after six months and her pulling up outside the terminal in her pearl white Fiat Abarth.

“Welcome back, bitches!” She screams as I open the door.

I’m excited to see her. She looks great, but Tasha always looks great. She’s fabulous and takes good care of herself and has these big features and this natural beauty that doesn’t even wain when she wakes up from a hangover. I start telling her about my drink at the bar with Anna Faris, and she starts telling me about this indie horror movie she’s up for called Clown Motel.

Not Clown “Hotel” which I imagine would come with a continental breakfast and free Wi-Fi, but Clown “Motel” which is most likely located on a creepy, desert road with a gravel parking lot, two vending machines and an ice bucket. We laugh but of course I tell her I’m proud of her because I know that she’s is way more talented than this town has given her credit for.

We make our way back to her new apartment in Beverly Hills, but it’s not as glamourish as the Walsh residence from 90210. Tasha has just moved into this sublet with her rabbit Rocco after 6 months living at my old Hollywood apartment. We have to do the final walk through tomorrow, but now all I can think about is this little bunny in front of me who got me through some hard times the last year or so when he frequently lived with me in L.A.
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I tell him that my cat Dapple who he lived with for three years has passed away, but I’m pretty sure he already knew somehow. It’s great to see him, but it’s also time for Tasha and I to freshen up and go get ourselves some dinner and many many drinks.

We Lyft to Kabuki on Sunset and Vine which was always our go to place for business meetings, happy hour, (aka jappy hour) and gorging on sushi and wine. I walk in and accidentally kick the glass door with my foot. The host makes a funny comment and I realize I’m back in a town where people just speak their minds.

“If you break my door, we’ll just add it to your bill.” he says.

I laugh because it was funny and we get seated at a table and I immediately request a bottle of wine to start. We order three different types of rolls and a garlic steak, Tasha and I start catching up from the last six months.

I left L.A. because I felt like there was nothing left there for me. I was exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally and financially and I was tired of the struggle and the competition and I had been there for thirteen years and even though I aged gracefully, there is this enormous amount of pressure to stay young and defy the laws of physics. As an actor I had a small amount of success in my mid thirties, but by the time I turned forty, I was so over the rat race and the mental traps that I would seldom fall into that it started to take it’s toll on my confidence.

“You’re so much more confident now than when you left. I can see it in you.” Tasha says

She’s right. I used to get panic attacks in L.A. cause I was stressed as fuck, and my dating life was non-existent because seemingly the first and only question that everyone asks you on a first date is “What do you do,” which implies that the answer you give next will decide whether or not this person is interested in you at all. Everyone is a writer/actor/producer in L.A. but somehow if I told the truth that I tended bar at the Palladium and Wiltern it wouldn’t come off as an impressive field of expertise.

We talk about the drama that I had been through up in Seattle and how it started off so fucking great as I landed a lucrative job, was dating a hot girl I work with, was ready to plan out my future, but then I crash landed back to earth when we broke up in June and my cat Dapple died a few days later. That is a lot for someone to go through that quickly and I’m amazed that one of the only casualties of that debacle was the temporary loss of confidence I felt for a couple weeks and the erratic sleep patterns and highs and lows I felt along the way.

I guess a part of me understands myself enough to know all I really want in life on a daily basis is to feel like I do a good job, I’m appreciated, and that people like me. I’ll admit it, part of the reason I moved to L.A. was to follow that dream of having someone somewhere tell me that I’m good at what I do, but trying to live out that dream in L.A. along with the 2 million other hopefuls with stars in their eyes is just like being a small fish in a big pond trying to get a piece of bait.  Somehow though, living in Seattle and working at the bar is like being a big fish in a small pond. There’s less stress, the money is good, I’m doing well, and I work with a great bunch of people that I would like to think appreciate me for who I am. When it comes down to it, I really just want to be happy and stress free although those two ideas are easy to visualize and difficult to manifest.

“Are you happy up there?” Tasha asks me.

I think about this question a lot. Everybody in life just wants to be happy, I mean I said it myself three sentences ago, but I don’t think that happiness is something you feel constantly day in and day out. It’s a fleeting feeling that comes and goes like the seasons. Sometimes I can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning and start my day, other times I just want to sit on the couch and eat a whole pizza and not leave the house at all. Sometimes I’m depressed or sad, and other times I feel content as if nothing really bothers me. Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down, and yes I realize that what I’ve been writing sounds like the lyrics to a pop song that has been playing over and over again in my life.

“I am right now.” I said.

And I really am. I’m back in the town that I spent most of my adult life in, I’m sitting at the table drinking wine and eating sushi with my best friend who I haven’t seen in six months, and I’m about to close the door on a chapter of my life that will hopefully help to open up another door to the next chapter, whatever that may be.

“Good.” She says. “It sure seems like it.”

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We order another glass of wine each and I text a few of my friends to see where they’re at. Ironically they are just down the street getting out of the movies at Arclight so we all plan to meet up in a little bit.

For the first time in awhile, I don’t feel stuck, I don’t feel stressed, and I don’t feel like I need to be someone I’m not. It just feels good to back in Hollywood.

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