i did not enjoy living in los angeles, well, beverly hills. i have often thought if i lived in silverlake or santa monica or los feliz…maybe my experience would have been a better one. but probably not…there are approximately 7,876.8 people living per square mile in los angeles. and i don’t like crowds.
i’m a small town girl. i grew up in a town with one stoplight (there are 2 today, i believe.) we had a dairy queen and a stop-n-go convenience store. a bakery. a drugstore. to see a movie i had to drive 10 miles, but back then it felt like 30 or 40. most of my days were spent with friends at my house. swimming in our pool. playing soccer in the yard. skipping school. friday night football games. the town was 100% white until my freshman year in high school when a family adopted an african-american boy. it was a big deal. to this day, some 15 years later, the town is still white and it saddens me. the kids today, i am sure, are doing the same thing i did so many years ago. i want more for all of them. i want them to at least experience living in a city like los angeles or nashville or new york or austin…nothing wrong with raising a family and keeping life simple, just because it’s not for me doesn’t make my life better, but…
i read something a friend posted at her website, it’s the story of eddie.. a homeless man who lived on the rooftop of her office building. the homeless can tell a story with their eyes. i’ve had many conversations with the homeless and many times without a word spoken between the two of us. and usually, they touch me in a way i cannot describe except to say i’m a better person, more enlightened after meeting them. one example would be a man i met while working on a film in memphis. his name, too, was eddie. we were working 12-20 hour days, six days a week. it wasn’t easy but most crew members were making incredible money. we had a warm bed to sleep in. plenty of food and drink to eat. friends and family to call.
eddie slept on the loading deck of the building where we filmed for several days. no bed, only blankets. and no food or drink of his own. no family. but he had friends. so many friends. i put him in the movie and he worked several days- you can actually see him in the film, several times, one scene singing along with the lead actor. i would wake him every morning and he was so excited to start the day. (those moments are moments i will never forget, the look on his face…me, sleepy and wishing i was in bed and he, alive and awake!) i would walk to catering with him and he would eat…and eat. and eat. usually pancakes…. i would always go to catering after lunch and fill several boxes with food for him to share with his friends later that evening. meanwhile he would stand and wait patiently for his turn to walk in front of the camera while the other extras sat and complained…are we finished yet? how much longer until we wrap? what’s taking so long? i need makeup, time for a touch-up! we are running out of bottled water and the coffee isn’t good.
but never a word from eddie. my sweet eddie with a full beard and warm eyes..eyes that said so much. those eyes that would light up when i woke him. he could have slept. he could have walked to the store with enough money to get that bottle in the brown paper bag. he could have avoided the lights and the people and avoided the reality that he didn’t have what we had. but i choose to believe he knew…he knew he had so much more.
as i was typing this, a friend called, she still lives in that small town where i grew up. i was listening to paul simon’s graceland when she called. i remember the day i took her and her son to graceland. and beale street. standing on a rooftop overlooking the mississippi river. and walking the streets populated with so many faces, some haunted, but all with a story to tell. there are no homeless men or woman in my old hometown. most of the kids there will never see memphis. or los angeles. they will never know what it’s like to look into someone’s eyes and see something so very real. and beautiful.