Friday, May 7, 2010

Blowing Off the Hollywood Ending

My parents moved while I was in college so when I found myself in one of their spare bedrooms, saving up to move to LA after graduation, I didn't have any old friends around for comfort (or distraction from my ultimate goal). After a brief stint as an executive assistant, I landed a job serving crawfish and beer in a local restaurant.

I liked my job and my co-workers, but beyond vaguely telling them I was interested in writing, I didn't advertise my Hollywood-bound intentions because 1) The girl with one foot out the door might not get all the hours she wanted and 2) I didn't want them to privately laugh at me the way I might if they confessed similar aspirations.

Since I didn't have any old friends around and I was saving for a cross-country move, I didn't go out much. That changed when I met Ryan, a cute stockcar racer my co-worker Mandi set me up with. I tried to protest meeting him, I even confessed that I was putting in my two weeks notice soon and heading out to California, but Mandi insisted. He was a younger guy on her dad's racing team and she thought we'd click.

Out of boredom and the vague notion that a fling might be fun, I agreed. Mandi and I headed down a long country road to her dad's place, where there was a BBQ in progress. There was a band and as we made our way past lots of fancy car parts in the garage, I stumbled upon Ryan getting someone's mother a second serving of brisket.

I like country boys, guys who open doors and say "Yes'm" and "No, sir," guys with big trucks and worn-in baseball caps. Ryan also had a hotrod, which he took me to see that very first night. You'll be shocked to learn we ended up making out against the tin siding of the garage where it was kept.

The next day I glowed in that stupid giddy way you do after you meet someone great and you can't wait to see what's next. Except I knew what was next: I had roommates and a signed lease less than a month away in Los Angeles. I had a dream that I'd been working towards since high school. I also had a message on my cell phone from a really nice guy who wanted to take me to dinner.

Ryan wasn't built to be a fling; he was the kind of guy you fall for. He knew about my plans to head to LA be a writer. Not only did he not laugh, he offered to do some fancy work on my engine to make sure my car was in good shape as it crossed the lonely desert.

His sweet, supportive nature made it hard to keep things casual. I couldn't fully relax because then I might slip and stop holding him at arms-length. Despite what I may have learned from Garden State or Not Another Teen Movie (shut up, it's woefully underrated), I knew a few fun weeks wasn't enough to blow off my dreams.

One night while watching a movie at his place, he got up to go to the bathroom. I went to get something from the fridge and ended up staring at a picture of his family in a magnetic frame. Then I looked around his little house and beneath the spartan bachelor decor, I could see that it was a starter house, somewhere his wife and first kid might live. I had to get out of there. Moving towards an untested future was hard enough without a kind-eyed reminder of the path I'd already resolved not to take.


  1. Wait, i want to know more! did you guys stay in touch when you moved to LA, is he married now, are you facebook friends? what is with meeting great guys right before moving? the same thing happened to me when I moved to NY.

  2. I ended it that night by telling him that when we were together I felt like I was wasting his time and I should be setting him up with a nice girl who would stick around. We talked a couple more times, but I moved the next week and that was the last time I saw him. I doubt he's on Facebook, but I'm sure he's married by now. He was a catch, just not my catch.