Oct 17, 2004

The Party's Over

I got invited to a party; a house warming out in Silver Lake. I love the guy who's warming his house. I know him from New York, aspiring film maker, lots of fun. When he invited me last Sunday I was gung ho. I had it on my calendar all week. But when it came time to leaving, I bailed. I did the same thing on a perfectly good party the previous week.

Today I had a bit of an excuse. At the last minute, I was invited to a matinee screening of I Heart Huckabees, with a Q&A with the director. I was so looking forward to seeing this film, I love the director, love the cast, loved the trailer.

Hated the movie. Interesting questions, inventive, laugh out loud funny. And too precious and annoying and not only wasn't enough at stake. Didn't know what was at stake. Where it was going. Or when it got there, why I should care. The Q&A started right afterward and I was trapped. The director came out wearing Hugo Boss suit and sneakers. I guess he was going for the serious-but-informal look. Or formal-but-funny. Or "Nice Casual" as they say in my business. But when he sat down and removed his Reebok Hi-Tops, I lost respect. This ain't no dojo, buddy. Well maybe it was, because he started rattling on about studying Buddhism with Uma Thurman's dad. An Asian of indeterminate gender sat next to me in billowing black, indefinable attire, head shaved and hands open in prayer as the director talked. It was exhausting. Now I realize the film was about existentialism. But it didn't so much articulate modern man's existential ennui as much as it created existential ennui in my stomach.

I stumbled out of the theater, disoriented by the fading autumn light, felt a pang of melancholy for the end of summer. And got in my car.

I had printed out a map to the house warming party. It was all the way over in the hills of Silver Lake; in "20 something-Beck wanna be-wiccan-alternative Groove Ville. Freeway inconvenient. Stuck in a cluster of winding streets not even the highest Map Quest zoom could identify.

I thought of all the parties I'd gone to over there, anticipating a good time and coming home depressed. So I went through the party in my mind. My friend is a good 15 years younger than I, so are his friends. Their behavior will be too. (Hey, this guy got spanked at a church retreat's after-hours camp fire). There's going to be a lot of alcohol. In the Lord. But alcohol. And music I don't know. And lost of post-acne pre-wrinkle smiles of those young artists with their whole lives, in front of them -- and all their eggs and sperm. And I'll look around and see lots of hot guys, of babysitting age. No one in my age bracket except the other fabulous talented single women in their late thirties early forties, who showed up at this party for the same reason I did: because they're still single. I'll have to go through one more conversation about what do you do, where do you live, what do you think of predestination? And bow out looking for diet drinks and not finding them because it's a guy's beer party. I'll wish I were still a smoker. I'll say I'm going out for air and race home, stop to get a single serving box of Barnum's animal cookies and watch Dr. Vegas at 10 pm because all the crappy shows get relegated to Saturday night.

I think of the parties I went to in Silver Lake that I went to when I was 15 years younger, when had my whole life and ovaries ahead of me. There was a journalist who had a Christmas party every Halloween. Friends from the Groundlings that I wrote with, whose names I don't remember. I flip through the faces of the people. Most of them are married with families and established careers. I work a survival job, shop at the 99 cent store and come home to a cat. I wonder what string of bad choices has left me single, I wonder if my married mortgaged friends wish they were still single going to parties in Silver Lake. And I realize that it's a long hard fall over the cliff of naivete into the chasm of experience.

According to scientists, the universe started with a bang, and a clump of matter no larger than a beach ball has been expanding ever since; expanding into stars and comets and water and people and empires. But some day it will reach terminal velocity, contract and implode into a black hole.

My father died a couple years ago. Up until then I saw life as being ahead of me. Opportunities were still coming. I was writing. I was dating healthier men. Heck that I was dating at all was an improvement. I moved to New York to pursue new things. I started a comedy group, I wrote and fell in love. Some things were ending; but more complex and mature opportunities were coming my way.

But around the time Dad died, I was hit with a profound sense of loss and regret. Not just losing my father, but losing life itself. The matter and energy allotted to me was starting to cool and contract. I thought of the opportunities I had missed. I thought of all those friends I had, close friends I shared my soul with, whose names I can't remember. I thought of all the goodbyes I have had in my life. And I thought of the choices I made that I erroneously thought I could undo later.

You hear the phrase, "young people think they're immortal." And if you're young you think, "I do not. Of course I know I could die any moment." But how about the incidental mortality? The little choices you make every day that can kill a relationship or an opportunity or faith? I'll write that script later. I'll work on my 12-step program later. I can date this cad for a while, it's just for now. It'll be a learning experience. But some experiences should be laid down and avoided.

I hate that phrase, "everything happens for a reason." Yeah, the reason Joe Smith is in a wheelchair is because a drunk driver hit him head-on at 70 mph. The reason I gained weight is because I overate. Everything DOES happen for a reason. Sometimes the reason is human stupidity and rebellion. It's not 'all good.' Sometimes it's all shitty.

You'd think that being religious I would have been more responsible. Didn't work that way for me. I was possessed with this idea that God Had A Plan For Me. God was in control, He'd work it out. I didn't have to work so hard. After all, 'all things work together for good." But I used that as an excuse to slack off. Entitlement.

I was in New York a couple of weeks ago. I called up my close group of friends to see who was going to The Haven (a weekly fellowship group for people in the arts). None of them went anymore. Most of them were married. And the few singles left, well as my friend Alf said, "The Haven got younger and I got older." I felt a huge sense of melancholy. You go back to the past and it's not there anymore. You can't go back. You can't recreate it. It's decayed, like Miss Havisham.

It's a long hard fall down when you realize that some of the mistakes you made, you can never undo them. That life precarious. Love isn't a given.

You'd think that would make me run to the party. No, instead I came home with my single serving of Barnums Animal Crackers. I checked the Yankee game, turned off the TV and wrote. I don't know if what I write tonight will matter in the short or long run. But I figure, before my creative energy reverses and disappears into that black hole, I might as well use it. And besides, the words and the desire to write them will be gone tomorrow.