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Thoughts on life and a photograph

March 28, 2013

There is a picture my uncle took of my mom and I at the beach. We’re backlit, facing the glittery water. My mom is wearing a visor and sunglasses. We’re both wearing swimming suits. I am three or four years old. We’re holding hands.

That picture guts me. Just describing it now has me choked up. I often think of my tiny dog and wonder how it must feel to be picked up and moved, whether he’s into it or not. It must feel powerless. I’m pretty sure that’s how I felt at that time in my life. Watching the ocean come in and out, grasping my mom’s hand for stability, standing on the shifting sand, knowing I wasn’t going to get it.

We moved to California when I was 4. My first memories are pulling up to our townhouse in Studio City and being struck my how dirty Beverly Hills was. I saw a roll of toilet paper in the street. Looking back, I think it might have been Culver City.

I went on my first helicopter ride during which someone made a joke about nude sunbathing. The word “nude” stuck with me. My mom’s boyfriend was the pilot. They split up because he told her she should spank me. She tried once, with a mason pierson, but it tickled. Apparently I was confused about the whole relationship, I called him “Boyfriend”, instead of his name.

Everyone I knew was three thousand miles away in Memphis. I wore cowboy boots and jeans to the beach. We didn’t have buckets so I made sand castles with a discarded fast food cup. It was hard. I missed my family. I screamed for my dad almost constantly. After a year my mom moved him to Los Angeles. He’d never really lived anywhere but memphis either. He wasn’t even 30 yet. He moved his whole life for two days a week and school drop offs. We made tapes to send back to my cousin Amber. In one I said I was having so much fun I’d almost forgotten about them. I was lying, but I didn’t want anyone to worry.

Shortly thereafter she moved out my nanny, Myrtle. My lifeline. Mom really took the whole “it takes a village” theory seriously and she built my village very well. Across the driveway was my first friend. Megan. Her parents were also divorced and her mom carted me around like I was one of her own. There was Jim and Peter, Kaori and Lori. The Moonlighting crew. Being the only child of a single mom I went everywhere and knew everyone. But I was lonely. The end of Moonlighting devastated me. In my own career I would go on to work with many of those folks, but it wasn’t the same.

I often say that I became an actor because I don’t know how to do anything else, but the truth is, when I was very small, on set was the only place outside of Memphis that really felt like home. In a lot of ways it still does. I worked on the Fox lot in my early twenties and it really was like going home. We moved a lot so I’ve often been envious of people who go back to their childhood homes for holidays or whatever. Fox hasn’t changed all that much. I crave consistency. Yes, I see how that could be at odds with my chosen career.

I only meant to write about that photograph. With my wedding less than two weeks away, I guess I’m feeling nostalgic and sad that my whole “village” can’t be there. Because of space, we have a limited guest list. I thought that would make it easier, but it didn’t. When I had to cut down my list and exclude kids- which took some cousins out- and non-blood relations outside of LA, I bitched and cried. Then I looked at my life.  Everyone should have such troubles, right? Too many people they love who love them back? All my people will be there in spirit and love. I’m a lucky woman.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Erin permalink
    March 28, 2013 8:25 am

    Awwww! Thank you for sharing this. It hit me in the feels. I love that you share so deeply with us. Not many ppl that we look up to or love in show business do that. Yeah they share superifial crap, but you dig down and bare soul with us. Makes me drawn to you more.

  2. March 28, 2013 8:56 am

    Pretty sure you could be a writer, too – are you working on a book? of course after the wedding that is… congrats by the way 🙂

  3. March 28, 2013 9:33 am

    A lovely piece. You are blessed with a gift for expressing yourself and a fine sensitivity for the people in your life. May your wedding day be full of blessings and love, laughter and maybe even a little unplanned craziness. xoxo

  4. April 3, 2013 5:10 pm

    Everyone should have such troubles, indeed. But even the troubles that remind us how lucky we really are can still be frustrating. And sucktastic in their own regard.

    Your mom sounds like a really great mom! Also, this post is doing nothing to dissuade me of the courthouse/elopement strategy, personally.

  5. Shannon permalink
    April 4, 2013 7:06 am

    What a beautiful, thoughtful, honest post. Thank you for sharing!

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