Sunday, September 5, 2010
When my alarm goes off in the morning, I'll let out a groan, roll out of bed, and in a semi-confused and defeated state, look out my window at the pre-dawn sky. The sun won't be peeking over the horizon for another few hours, but that won't stop my day from starting.
I'll get the coffee going as I begin my zombie like ritual of getting dressed, brushing my teeth and other acts of personal grooming, and sometimes, I'll manage to down a full cup of coffee before it's time to leave for work.
And in the quiet of the early morning, while the whole world is still sleeping (or at least, my neighborhood), I'll get into my car, start the engine, and hit the road.
It doesn't matter where the location is that day. Culver City, Pasadena, Malibu... It's all the same to me. I'll glide effortlessly on the freeways, changing lanes with ease. It's usually too early for traffic. The radio will be playing the latest pop song by some tween, and I'll sing along, letting it's energetic and trendy beats wake me up. No one is aware of this guilty pleasure of mine. There are few cars on the road to catch me dancing in my seat, and even then, the city is still under the guise of darkness as I zip by during my commute. Despite having to drag my tired ass out of bed so early in the morning, I usually savor this quiet moment before the storm...
And then I'll arrive at my destination. A studio, a house, an empty restaurant... It's all the same to me. I'll spend the next several hours lugging cable, moving around hot lights and struggling with heavy stands, all while fighting my way through crowds of background actors, set dressers, hair and make-up people and every other department. Eventually, as it is inevitable that Production will fall behind schedule, the day will lag on and breaks will be few and far between. The Gaffer will get cranky and take it out on our Best Boy, which in turn, puts stress on those of us beneath him. The Director will suddenly have an epiphany that involves massive, last minute changes in every department and as we scramble to cater to his every whim, the AD will be barking at our heels to hurry up. Overtime will occur, pushing us to the limit as my fellow co-workers and I all wonder how much more of this we could take...
And then they'll call wrap.
After loading up the truck, I'll get back into my own car and hit the road again. The city is definitely awake by now, and people are bustling about and cluttering the streets. A far cry from the easy, flowing drive I had that morning. No more effortlessly zipping around on a nearly empty freeway. But that's okay. I don't mind being patient on the journey home. In fact, I'll cherish the minutes I spend siting in my own personal, air conditioned cocoon, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel to a familiar tune on the radio as I inch along down the road. My mind will wander as I start to make plans for the weekend or think about what I'll have for dinner. I'll look around at the L.A. skyline, and despite its often smoggy and dingy appearance, it makes me smile. It always reminds me that I'm in Hollywood. Making movies. And that's something that so many people don't get to do.
I'll think about how far I've come. How I came to this town knowing no one and how now I've got something that bears a vague resemblance to a career. Sometimes I think about the people I had to leave behind to get here. Sometimes I think about the people I got to know because I'm here. Sometimes I'll reminisce in my own mind about the stuff I used to do and sometimes I'll day dream about my future.
But if the traffic's too bad on the freeway, I'll opt to take the surface streets. Most of the time, the route I'll take puts me on auto pilot and I'll know which streets to turn on without even thinking about it. But every once in a while, I'll turn down a new road to explore the city a little. As I'm stopped at traffic lights, I'll look around me, taking note of the stores and businesses in the area. What restaurants look good. What boutiques look interesting. And every so often, it's "Holy shit! So that's where that awesome place that so-and-so was talking about is..."
Depending on the season, I'll even drive a little slower and marvel at the trees lining the streets. Sometimes they'll bloom into the most remarkable shades of pink and lavender. And if it's a good day, I'll roll down my windows, letting the cool evening breeze trickle in, ever so gently tickling the hairs on the back of my neck. It's a gorgeous feeling that always makes me smile as well.
Eventually, I'll find my way home again. I'll crawl into my apartment, shower, eat and sleep and in a few short hours, my alarm will go off again, and a little after that, I'll be thrown into another day of stress and exhaustion for little money under a Producer who stands to make a lot.
But the drive... The drive is mine.