This post originally was a portion of yesterday’s until I realized I was muddying my themes. You’ll notice it’s not unrelated. I think. One of the things you learn while writing your Masters thesis, and then re-learn in, say, a writer’s room: thoughts that are obviously connected in your mind — they’re not necessarily connected in anyone else’s.
On our last day in Iceland, Brett dove the continental divide while I sprawled on a mountain of blankets on the most comfortable bed in Reykjavik (seemingly, anyway, after eight nights in a camper van) and finished a rewrite of my second episode of TL2. I was on a hard deadline but was having a hard time, emotionally, letting the draft go. I mean, what if that was it? And how could this possibly be my last stab — it feels like I only just started. Like I only just started… back in the dark ages of last autumn.
I remember at the end of last summer — it might have technically been fall — I left my first meeting (interview?) with our showrunner and I thought to myself, I think that went well. He’d asked about my availabilities and travel plans, and I secretly thought ooh, this one’s in the bag. Okay fine: I told my mom and I told Brett that I thought it was in the bag. I probably also told my brother and my sister-in-law. My dad was likely within earshot.
This is a rookie mistake. Never say shit like that out loud. If possible, don’t even think it.
The waiting began. The waiting and the wanting, soon followed by the squirming. And I thought, oh shit, what if it wasn’t in the bag? When the good news finally came in (I’m almost sure it was the autumn, although I think I was wearing short-shorts and carrying a bottle of rosé out of an SAQ; that there was sweat beading at the small of my back) I could have collapsed from gratitude on the pavement. My eyes darted repeatedly across the email on my iPhone to confirm I wasn’t misreading. So when I arrived for dinner with my family and told them the news, their reply was “Didn’t that already happen?”
I probably sighed loudly, but I can’t blame them. I trick myself like this all the time. Or the industry tricks me. Everything happens very slowly, but also kind of overnight. Moments of success, achievement, and celebration shift around in this somewhat intangible state. Once they concretize, it feels like they’re already in the past. Your head snaps back to see them, like a sign you blast by on the highway. But it’s already behind you. The characters in Gurov and Anna do this with moments of decision and action; moving them around so they’re never in the present. I know why they do it; they’re cowards. But what am I?
Sometimes I even fail to fully celebrate and rejoice in something because it happened too quickly or easily. When something wonderful just manifests, it’s harder to believe in it. You just eye it curiously it and think “is this really happening?” Isn’t it easier to believe in the importance of something when you seek it out, rather than it calling upon you? A few things have surprised me like that recently, and in these cases I recognized them immediately as valuable. But seizing them kind of feels like robbing a bank. Or like that old Ikea commercial: Start the car! Start the car! Instead of experiencing it you’re just frantically trying to make your getaway with the loot. Come on already! Quick, before someone stops us!
Several weeks (or lifetimes?) ago, my girlfriend and I drove from the TL2 set in Baie d’Urfé to have drinks with her fellow castmembers in the Old Port. Hours earlier I had just made my first deal to create my own original series. The deal had been “as good as done” weeks prior, followed by an excruciating period of waiting and questioning. And so when I finally signed the papers and emailed them back to my manager, I had this moment of meekly mumbling “hey guys, this thing just happened — guys, I think I did a thing…” In the car, on the way to drinks, I asked my friend whether she always celebrates her successes. And she admitted that she doesn’t either. It’s not always clear whether it’s the nature of the industry that does this to us, playing a shell-game with those occasions, or whether we do it to ourselves.
Is this just another way we cheat ourselves out of our own happiness?
Thank goodness that I’m characterized primarily, I think, by gratitude. Or audacity first (according to my Proust questionnaire, anyway), with gratitude a close second. There is no fanfare, no champagne corks being popped, no parades, and no ponies. But I think I’m in a constant state of quiet celebration. Which explains all the bourbon.
Thanks everyone for the messages in reply to yesterday’s post which was actually written in scribbles over the last few weeks and made semi-coherent yesterday, on my iPhone, while stuck in traffic. Of all the replies I received, one stood out in particular, from my friend Ellen in Dallas; a regular on the Brac. I asked her if I could share it here:
“If you can permit me an old woman’s perspective, don’t fear regret! It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. A life without regret will be a life without the texture of ever having been foolish, scared, mean, brave, vulnerable, blindly in love. Regrets will come but their lessons make us our best selves.”
Thank you, Ellen. And all of you!
And now, back to packing my bags.