Friday, May 2, 2008

Manifest Destiny in Reverse

Way back in the Nineteen Hundred and Nineties, a fresh young composer named Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote a little musical called Sunset Boulevard. Back then it was still unusual to turn a movie into a Broadway musical. Now, it's required, with disastrous results. I'm looking at you, Legally Blonde. But I'm not here to discuss the decline of the American musical. Though I just did. And it is. Instead, I bring up Sunset Boulevard, because for the past two weeks I haven't been able to get the title song out of my head.

Odds are you don't remember it, or have never heard it. To sum up, Joe Gillis sings of his dreams of moving to Los Angeles, then describes the harsh and bitter reality that greeted him, essentially justifying his decision to move in with a crazy silent film star and live off her money and mental instability. So what does that have to do with me? I love Los Angeles. I've found friends and family and love and success and a home here. And yet, by leaving it, I feel a little like Joe Gillis when he decides to give it all up and leave town. Then, of course, he ended up floating in the pool with a bullet in his back. And I'm sorry if I just spoiled the end for you, but the movie has been out for 58 years. Almost as long as I've been out.

Fighting for space in my brain with Sunset Boulevard is my high school history book. The one that described manifest destiny and "go west, young man." I don't remember anyone saying, "go east, young man." Or even, "once you reach your destiny, turn around and go back." I've heard California described as the end of the rainbow. Why would anyone leave the end of the rainbow?

You don't regret the things you do; you regret the things you don't do.

So here comes this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave home for a year and experience an entirely new and different way of life. The mountains of North Carolina are a far cry from the streets of L.A. But why do it? Barring any earthquakes, fires, mudslides or governors, California will still be here in a year. But this opportunity won't be.

We are going to miss our friends and family, our home and the crazy world of Los Angeles living. I mean, I love a city where the local news leads with what's happening in entertainment. But we'll be back. With stories to tell. And an exciting chapter to add to our lives. Unless of course we're chased out of town by an angry mob with pitchforks and torches...which is always a possibility when I'm involved.

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