I got off the plane at LAX around 3pm on a Saturday. The air was dark and smokey, probably because of the wildfires that had been raging in Santa Clarita the night before. I immediately take a picture of the ominous sky and the sun that is barely shining through as I wait outside of the International terminal for Tasha to pick me up.
I think about how I haven’t been back in L.A. since January. On Monday it will be exactly six months to the day that I moved up to Seattle. Was it ironic that my trip back happened to fall on the six month anniversary of me leaving southern California? Probably, but I think everything happens for a reason and here I am back in Hollywood after having gone though a roller coaster of emotions since June. I guess I needed a little grounding and I’ll be the first one to admit I didn’t think that such a toxic place like L.A would have been able to offer me that, but that’s exactly what it did.
It all started a few hours earlier while I was sitting at a bar in Sea-Tac airport having a drink with a stranger from Alaska, and a well known celebrity from California.
I got to the airport with an hour before my flight was scheduled to take off, and being that this was a well needed mini vacation for me, I started drinking early. I went to one of the bars in the terminal and found nowhere for me and my bags to sit, so I ventured further past the parents and kids flying everywhere and into uncharted waters and found a seat at Anthony’s Fish Bar. I ordered a bloody mary and some chowder, and stared at my phone like most people do in airports.
Sitting to my right at the crowded bar was a guy in his early thirties with tattoos and a bald head, and to my left was another guy who I never really spoke to. I settled in drank my drink, and ordered another bloody mary. Right around the time that my second cocktail was delivered, I hear a woman’s voice ask the bald dude next to me if anyone is sitting at the empty stool next to him. Naturally, I look over and when I see this blonde woman in her early thirties, I immediately recognize her from TV and the movies, but I can’t remember her name to save my life.
What was that movie she was in that I never really watched but I kept seeing trailers for it waaay back in 2005? Oh right. It was called “The House Bunny,” and sitting two stools to my left ordering a pinot grigio was none other than Anna Faris, well known actor and wife of the immensely popular Chris Pratt. I guess this is how the trip is going to start.
A few minutes go by and I can hear the dude next to me and her conversing and even though I’m not in the middle of the conversation, I really want to be, but how on earth do I segway myself into a private conversation between two total strangers at a bar in the airport? Does this guy even know who she is, and if so, is he ever going to let on? Not three minutes go by until she leans over, and asks the bald dude a question.
“Who’s your friend?” Anna asks as she motions to me.
At this point, the truth comes out that neither one of us know each other, but apparently, we are all about to. She introduced herself as “Ahh-Na,” not “Ann-uh” which I already know is the preferred pronunciation of her name because I watched that episode of Entourage when she played herself and crashed into the back of E’s car in the Hollywood Hills wearing nothing but a towel.
Anna is extremely nice and sweet and at this point me, Anna, and our new friend Dustin all clink our glasses and cheers and start having a three way conversation about life, love, and tattoos.
Anna is considering moving to Seattle and not living in L.A. anymore and she asks me why I chose to move up here and without letting on that I know who she is, I’m honest with her and I tell her hey, if you don’t need to be in L.A. or you can fly in when you have work, there is really no need to live there, especially since the air and the view in Seattle is a lot cleaner and healthier for your mind and body and soul.
We talk about Dustin’s job in Alaska on a oil rig and how it’s a difficult position to be in a truck with a guy for 14 hours a day in the middle of nowhere drilling for oil and whatever else riggers do. He’s a really nice dude and he tells a story about how he recently got divorced from his ex wife but they are still best friends and they have a 21 year old son. Anna chats about how she once worked the coldest job ever in Canada in a city called Regina.
“When I got there, I saw a billboard that read “Welcome to Regina. It rhymes with fun.”
Now we’re all laughing because we know Regina actually rhymes with vagina and I’m trying to figure out when the director is going to call cut because what is happening now reminds me of being in a movie where you meet a celebrity at a bar in Sea-Tac airport, but then I realize that this is just my life, drinking alcohol at 12:15pm with two strangers, one of whom happens to be famous.
Dustin takes out a picture of his son and somehow we start talking about tattoos and he shows me and Anna the ink his offspring just got. It’s a new school tattoo of a green alien sitting indian style on the floor wearing Birkenstocks and giving the double middle finger while a big fat joint protrudes from his mouth.
“Yeah, he’s gonna regret that one.” I say
And believe me, I would know because I have a tattoo that I wish I never got.
“Show us!” Anna says.
And this is the point when I caved into the pressure of my new friends at the bar and rolled up my left pant leg and showed them the most regrettable tattoo I have on my body. A cat getting electrocuted
“Wow, what is it?” Anna asks as she pokes my leg with her finger, trying to figure out exactly what I’m showing her and I’m somewhere in between a little nervous that she just touched me in the worst tattoo ever, and slightly impressed that I currently have a celebrity poking my leg and none of us think this is weird at all.
I go on to tell her that when I was 18, I had a guy who used to do tattoos out of my kitchen back in Jersey and that I must have been pretty young and stupid at the time to get a multi-colored cat having electro shock therapy from sticking a fork in a power outlet.
“But you know what, you should never cover it up because it will always remind you not to make impulsive decisions in life.” Dustin says.
He’s absolutely right, and he makes a good point, and it’s at this time that Anna asks me why I’m going back to L.A. I tell her the truth because that’s what people do when they first meet each other in airpot bars and I explain how the last month in Seattle was kind of rough on me as I lost my cat and my ex within the same week, and before I know it I’m showing Dustin and Anna pictures of both of them. But what am I really doing in L.A.?
I’m going back to take care of an apartment I have had under my name since I moved to Seattle almost six months ago, and I’m going to see friends of mine who I’ve missed these last 180 days and who have been there for me for years. I’m going back to get a sense of where I came from and perhaps get an idea of where I’m headed next and believe me, even though Los Angeles can be a toxic city, I think I’m able now to avoid the toxicity of the Hills and the San Fernando valley even though the the news reports are saying not to be outside for very long because of the smoke from the wildfires.
It’s nearing the time that I have to board my flight, but if I can be totally honest I kind of want to miss it and continue this random conversation I’m having at a bar in Sea-Tac airport with an oil rigger and a comedic actress, but I know that there is something waiting for me 967 miles south of here.
I say goodbye to Dustin and I tell him it was nice to meet him, then Anna extends her hand and as I shake it she reminds me that her name is Anna, as if I still don’t know who she is, but perhaps she likes that level of anonymity, so I never let on that I know.
I grab my bags, wish them both good flights, and I head over to gate 38 and board the plane for Los Angeles, but not before I text three of my friends telling them that I haven’t even landed in Hollywood yet, but I already have a great L.A. story to tell them.