Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Google Map Perspective

Once again, Hollywood and I are hanging out in LA. For the last four years, occasionally and sometimes routinely, we've taken the long drive south through the desert in pursuit of his acting career. Sometimes, like this weekend, it's acting classes. Other times it's auditions and callbacks.

It used to be that we came out fairly regularly, several times a week even, but for various reasons we've pulled back from it all and haven't made the trip in a while. Hence, this weekend is really one of analysis: Is this really something Hollywood wants to do? Is it worth the effort? Is he willing to put in the time? Does he even enjoy acting, anymore? Or has he outgrown it all?

His agent in Vegas warned me, a year or two ago, that teenage boys tend to drop out of the business. Peer pressures and stigmas and the daunting task of fitting in, etc. When she said this, I found myself both hopeful and sad. Hopeful because the child acting business is really taxing on a parent--in a way that soccer and ballet never have been for me--and even more so when you live four hours outside of LA. And sad because I'd hate for peer pressure to rob him of his dream when middle-school bullying has already stolen whole chunks of him. (Although, I'm thrilled to say, he's grabbed a lot of it back. And he's ever stronger for it all!)

Anyway, so here we are. Again. In LA.

The class he's taking is right smack in Hollywood, on Hollywood Boulevard, but since we booked late our hotel is in Sherman Oaks, which I want to say is north of Hollywood, but I'm not entirely sure, and that is just the point of this post:

We've been driving to and fro along the I15, for years, our destinations varying all over greater LA, from Hollywood to Van Nuys to Santa Monica and more. For pleasure, we've also visited Manhattan Beach and Malibu, and, of course, Disney Land. And always, always we've had a navigator in the car to get us where we were going. So, never once, have I had to look at a map of the city that wasn't a Google map--a small square of perspective no more informative than the minute-by-minute instructions of the navigator telling me to turn, turn, turn, until finally, "Destination on the right."

This morning, having plugged in McDonald's (Hollywood had a hankering for hotcakes) I found myself recognizing my surroundings.

"Hey," I said to Hollywood. "We know this area. That's the spot we ate at that time."

"Oh, ya," he said.

But, until then, we really had no idea where we were. LA isn't a place we've lived. We don't know it the way the locals do. Not well enough to take short cuts or avoid traffic. We are at the mercy of that automated voice of instruction and the small map on the dash-screen.

And it occurred to me as I dropped Hollywood off, this morning, two years of middle school later; and at least a foot taller than the last time I dropped him off to that class; peach fuzz on his upper lip; gangly arms; the caution in his eyes where once, only love and trust; the protective curve of his shoulders; but wisdom, too, and a well-earned strength..., and, well, it occurred to me that we live our lives in squares as small as those damn Google maps.

Eager to get where we need to go in our busy, busy lives, we take the first road, and the next road, but eventually and most certainly we hit upon a road jammed up by traffic, or stress, or economic worries; we're jammed up because our kids are being bullied at school, or because they aren't making great grades; we're jammed up with insecurities and false ambitions; we're jammed up for a million reasons. And we can't see where to go, because in the moment of it all, our perspectives our as limited as those God-damn Google maps.

Anyway, my point being that it's not a bad idea to sit back and take the time to look over the whole map, once in a while. know, to help you to see where it is you're going.

...and to appreciate where you've been.

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