i will admit, i can be quite the name-dropper. it’s difficult not to be in the film business. you are working with people whose names are recognizable. if i worked in say, the insurance business, you would probably find me monday morning at the water cooler discussing sally and her latest auto claim. or, if i worked in the restaurant business, you might find me chatting with the bartender about lisa, the morning hostess, who was sleeping with john, the assistant manager. i work with stars. celebrities. overpaid and some underpaid actors. musicians.
yesterday during a break in filming, the director, a hairstylist and i were discussing our surreal moments in the business. we all have them. we all grew up watching/loving films. we associate a song or film with a time in our life. the hairstylist spoke of her first experience at the academy awards- bumping into george clooney-the one “star” she has always wanted to meet. the director told the story of a day in los angeles while shopping he heard a familiar voice. he looked up and it was ringo starr. he froze. inside he was screaming, “i can’t believe it’s ringo f*cking starr. i love you. i love your music. you rock!” but no words came out. i have worked with many actors and rarely have that moment of….oh my god…it’s so and so from that movie. i see them at their best and their worst. they are just like you and me. one exception:
when i moved to los angeles a few years ago, i was a small town girl who had never traveled west of kansas. i spent four days on the road. a day in texas. new mexico. arizona. my first visit to the grand canyon. i arrived late one evening in los angeles, discombobulated. the traffic. the interstates. too many cars. too many people. finally found sunset blvd and headed towards my destination. i would be living with a sister of a friend in beverly hills. i called and she opened the gate. i parked my toyota next to one of three mercedes. the next morning i explored the property. it was a beautiful place. a home once owned by lana turner, she planted the lemon trees. i enjoyed my first month there. so much to see and do. i quickly tired of it all. the bad outweighed the good. i was ready to leave. i decided to give it three months. maybe things would get better.
one night the woman i was living with intercoms my room and told me she was about to take her nightly bath- she added that her friend joni would be stopping by later, please let her in if she buzzed. ten minutes later, she buzzed. in my pajamas, i walked down the stairs and opened the door. her friend, joni, was joni mitchell. i can only imagine the look on my face. complete shock i am sure. i let her in and we sat waiting. within a few minutes she tells me i need to find my “center.” she got me. it was as if we had known each for years. we sipped tea and chain smoked. she sang a song in french. i do not speak french but it was the most beautiful song and it was the most beautiful voice. many cigarettes and many hours later, we were still talking. laughing. many stories that evening. many evenings and more stories followed.
three months later i decided to leave los angeles. i knew it was for the best and i have no regrets. but my surreal moment changed me. i will never forget that first evening with joni. she taught me so much about life and love in so little time. and when life and love do not make sense i think of her words and i smile. a wise woman who entered my life for a reason.