April 23, 2004

and that's a wrap

If you donít look forward to something, it always turns out to be enjoyable after all. (Well, except for dental work.) Itís like Murphyís Law in reverse.

So yes, the party was fun. It was fun to watch the younger cast members enjoying their bits of limelight, mostly with refreshingly little affectation. It was fun to sit with the post-production folk and hear about their world which used to be my world. It was fun to talk to a guy who shared some former employers with me, to trade gossip and snide comments about these ghosts from my past. It was fun to watch the gag reel and hear the crew guffaw at their lives onscreen. It was fun to meet the show runner, an extremely talented man, and tweak him just a little. It was almost fun to meet the show creator, except that I forgot to say how much I love the show. Um, oops. Next time?

But really three encounters made the evening for me. Each in different ways, but ultimately all in the same way. First Dan and I made our way to one of the stars of the show, someone whose work as an actor Iíve admired for a long time. Heís gone on record as the father of a high functioning autistic child. Naturally, that made us want to talk to him, to touch base, acknowledge that other part of our life. And so we did. He responded warmly and appropriately. Very present in the conversation. And that felt good, that reminder that even in this shallow, self-involved world, some people are solid and real.

(If this paragraph makes you want to run to Google and figure out who and what show Iím talking about, email me instead. Iíll tell you.)

As we threaded through the crowd a bit later, Dan nudged me. ďThereís someone over there you know.Ē I looked. It took me a moment. But yes. And oh. And we went over. It took her a moment too, until she got that click. Itís been a while. More than a decade ago, I was an assistant editor on a show Iíd loved since it premiered. It was a good experience, partly due to this woman, a director/producer on the show, who treated me with respect. She has a knack for cutting through the chitchat and really talking. I loved seeing her again in that place, a reminder that Iím not so far removed from this world after all. We talked about working so hard together the day after Christmas that year, fixing a just-fired editorís mistakes. I was her hands, hers and the directorís, and I learned so much that week, seeing the editorís disastrous mistakes and then seeing how these two brilliant former editors fixed those mistakes. She said what Iíd done was a mitzvah, but I remember feeling lucky.

When she asked what Iíve been up to, I said something I almost never say, because it makes me feel like Iím admitting to being a second class citizen or, worse, living some retro-fifties antifeminist life. But this time I went ahead and said it: ďIíve been staying home with my son.Ē She beamed. She told me that was great and that was important and that was a gift to my child. It was clear she meant it and also that she understood itís not a forever thing, this mom at home business. And we talked a bit about children and the teen years (her children at the moment) and I ended up telling her about Damianís diagnosis and his progress, which I hadnít intended to but felt right, and she gave me a hug.

The third encounter was less profound, maybe, but still had an impact on me. Remember when I visited Dan in the cutting room a while back? When I saw the star of a show I once worked on? And decided not to say hello? Well, this time I did. Went over, introduced myself and my subterranean relationship to him on that series. And you know what? He was nice. A little chatty, even. We talked a bit about that show and the producers and then segued intoÖ our children. Being parents. In this case, the decision to have only one and the odd pressure to have more.

Yep. Once again. Children, the common bond. And I didnít need to Be Someone. Just to be.

That, to me, was the lesson of the evening. I used to want to impress. Hell, Iíd still prefer that. Iím human, after all. (And a Capricorn.) And maybe someday I will impress with my latest book sale or what have you. But what Iím learning is that sometimes nobody cares about that stuff, nobody but you. And if you stop caring about your lack of resume, you can just be who you are and that really truly can be okay. Even in Hollywood, land of the status symbol. If youíre comfortable in who you are, it shows and others will be too.

Though apparently it helps if youíre a parent.

Posted by Tamar at April 23, 2004 10:06 PM

Isn't it amazing how being a parent gives you this common bond with all other parents (although some more than others, depending on parenting style I suppose), where suddenly you always have something to talk with them about?

Posted by: Kay at April 23, 2004 10:47 PM

Please, don't ever feel reluctant to "admit" you are a stay-at-home Mom. Believe me, looking back after my children are all grown and left the nest, I wish I would have had that chance! As it was, circumstances dictated that I go to work; I was lucky, my Mom moved in and picked up the slack. More than the slack, really, all the housework, cooking, cleaning, etc., etc., were always done. All I had to do is go to work and come home to dinner on the table.

I feel that my children had the best of both worlds, but still . . . The feeling lingers that I missed out on a lot of things.

And, yeah, I'm curious who the star is. Let me know, OK.

Your son is one lucky little guy to have you and Dan for parents!

Posted by: Renate at April 24, 2004 03:12 PM

First of all, I want to agree with Renate. My mom stayed at home with us and it's such a great gift that not many people get to experience. Never be ashamed that you are doing one of the most important jobs in the world.

I loved your description of the party. I had one of those "should I go over to that busy and famous person" moments this past weekend and if you have something to say, I do think it's worth it. They're people just like us. I can see where it's annoying to have someone sticking a camera in your face or yelling your name all the time, but a "hey, your book really helped me" or "we have something in common" is a different situation.

Posted by: Rachel at April 27, 2004 12:39 PM