The sunlight blazes into my friend’s West Hollywood apartment. We’re there to discuss our travel plans to Prague, where my play is booked to perform at the Prague Fringe Festival this May.
Homemade turkey burgers sizzle in the kitchen as we frantically click on our laptops in the living room to find the perfect fare from Los Angeles to Prague. We’re all broke. We’re robbing Peter to pay Prague. But we’re going. “We” is comprised of myself (“The Writer”), Nicole (“The Executive Producer”) and Andrej (“The Prague Native”).
“We vill have so much fun…!” Andrej says, with his Praguian accent as he casually pads past us in his bare feet. Like a cat, he settles onto his plush shag carpet while searching airfare on his IPhone travel app.
Nicole, who’s ex-New York via Chicago, raises an eyebrow while buried in her Mac, “Yeah, yeah. We know. Did you find the $695 on Wednesday leaving from LAX at 7:30pm. That’s what I wanta know, friend.”
Nicole and I are in producer mode which is like being a hungry, mangy rat in heat. We’re erratic, hopeful; gnawing at the bone of this project for any possible marrow to feed us. Ultimately, we’re desperate. And we’re hot. Nicole, dark haired with a pixie cut, is dressed in a long black dress and looks like a nun as she has come from an audition asking her to be one. I’ve been running all over LA dropping off flyers for a theater, as that is my new part-time job since leaving my promotions manager job at a restaurant. LA heat is not kind when you’re cranky. Plus, it is 4:30pm, when employee meal used to happen at the restaurant and my stomach is not happy with the change in its scheduled feeding.
“What’s up with the burgers, Andrej?” I ask, as I cover my phone with my hand. I’m now on hold with a travel agency.
Andrej is excited to cook for us; almost as excited to show us his country and to be of service to us. He and I met years ago when I worked front desk at a gym and he worked at a sandwich shop. He has seemingly forgotten about the burgers. He grins slowly; his bright blue eyes twinkling, “Oh yes, yes. I vill finish the burgers now.”
The clock is ticking as we have to buy our tickets today. To-day. The trip is less than two months away. Plus, another clock is ticking, larger than Flavor Flav’s neck piece, louder than the burger sizzle, and it’s called Life.
I’ve lived in Milwaukee, Chicago, New York and currently Los Angeles. I’ve always known an international stop would be included in this big city tour (of life) that is strung along like popcorn for homemade garland on a Christmas tree. As a writer, actor, singer, dancer, multi-hyphenate entrepreneurial person for the past 25-plus years, I’ve learned that nothing is guaranteed; nothing continually makes sense except the drive to continue to be. That is, the drive to add another kernel of popcorn to your made up garland; to not have the freaking string break. The drive to live the life I believe I’m supposed to live.
I used to work as a marketing manager in mutual funds; as a book keeper for an entertainment business management firm; and as an over-qualified temp in all kinds of industries. All of the people I worked with knew I was destined for more, even when I didn’t know, and told me so in all of my tear-soaked “Goodbye” cards I keep in my hope chest.
But, what is this life?
I believe I found myself in New York; found my career in Los Angeles and now wonder what I will find in Prague and beyond. The romantic in me hopes I find my own family. This would include finding a man I fall in love with, marry and experience the impending birth of a baby that will be born at home like in the documentary, “Business of Birthing”. These are personal, lofty, forty-plus-year dreams that I haven’t pursued as much as my career dreams.
I’ve been afraid to ask for family. I was close once and I didn’t accept the gift. I now question, “Who am I to ask?” But like the list we send off to Santa, we won’t receive unless we ask. My popcorn garland will continue to only reach so far.