Today, I was gobsmacked with a wave of nostalgia. I went to a new restaurant for my office’s lunch run, Belcampo, on 3rd Street in LA, and it was there (in the Verve coffee shop next door) where I spent many a day typing away at my creative endeavors. Whether the focus was My Cancer Story, a screenplay, or the then-numerous blog posts (yeah, sorry about that), I spent my free time (of which I had ample supply then) ticking away at my form of expression. On November 8th, it will have been three years since I moved into my first apartment here, the temporary room rental on Blackburn Ave.
I arrived early today just so I could walk into the old stomping grounds of Verve (no pun intended). I took in the entire one-room coffee shop. The smell eeked into my nostrils and I was overcome with an emotion I hadn’t felt in quite some time: nostalgia. I perused the tables for any recognizable faces, an idea as pointless as buying a coffee after being sufficiently caffeinated, and yet, I partook in both. I got in the queue, ordered my old standby, a hot Americano, and as I waited, I went to the bathroom. It was just as I had remembered it. I recalled heading to the lavatory during my writing sessions terrified that the laptop I left behind on a table in a coffee shop in LA would be stolen. My old small-town mentality fought my real-world apprehension of the strangers around me. I knew, in most cases, it was a bad move to leave my possessions out in the open, but when you had to go, you had to go.
That mental thread pulled through to that time I first met Jim Rash (Dean Pelton from Community) at Verve. He was sitting adjacent to me one rainy day (my favorite days) and asked me to watch his stuff while he used the facilities himself, free from the fear of a hyper-caffeinated thief. When he returned, we chatted it up, and I expressed my fandom of his writing (with his writing partner, Nat Faxon), long before I began to work with “celebrities” and realized how much I sounded like a fanboy when I meant to imply appreciation for the craft.
Back then in late 2016 and early 2017, my future was constantly in flux, and my heart never ached for my friends and family more. Yet, I wasn’t homesick, no, far from it. For the first time ever, I was fearful and excited about my future. The sky was the limit, and I had “modest” goals, like working in the entertainment industry.
If I could only go back to talk to that impressionable youth now. I’d tell him that in seven months, he’d drive Lyft until he shatters his will, then out of nowhere, work his first day on a Hollywood set on American Horror Story. I’d tell him how after that, he’d continue to work on various sets meeting some big celebrities but make many friends both in and out of the industry. He’d learn about the scriptwriting group he’d join within a couple of months’ time. He’d know what it meant to love and to lose, again. He’d be shocked to hear that he actually finished that first draft of his novel, and would even see two more rewrites in as many years’ time.
Naw. I wouldn’t tell him any of that. Any one of those tales would have altered his course and he wouldn’t be scared and let me tell you, fear is the key. Fear is what drives us humans to be creative. Once we begin to build the foundations for our personal Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, then we can truly express ourselves creatively. I somehow balanced my emotional state on the fact that in order to do so, to be stable at the base of the pyramid, I had to blow the damn thing up and start from scratch in a foreign location, with a fresh perspective.
I wasn’t laying any more bricks in Maine. In Los Angeles, however, I was building the base at the same time as my creative endeavors. I fed the basic physiological needs at the same time as the creative expression building both pieces separately, then fitting them together like a puzzle. Both the stress of trying to feed my body, and keeping a shelter over my head for the years prior to the move were prohibiting my mind from working. Once I realized that the stress in placating those needs had washed away, I found that for the first time ever, I was free to work on myself as a whole.
Here’s to the next three years and where they take me.