Sunset Boulevard is often referred to as the 'boulevard of broken dreams', but I disagree. As I checked into a hip hotel on that same boulevard a few weeks ago, those words made me smile. When I looked around Hollywood, I didn't see broken dreams. I saw dreamers who hope for their big break. I saw a city built around making dreams come true. Creative energy zapped from the pavement. Promises whispered through the palm trees.
My friend and I opened a bottle of wine and settled in by the pool that was tucked in a courtyard lined with bamboo, palm trees, Mediterranean pines and flowers. As one of my friends said, it had a 'Melrose Place' feel to it. We perched our wine bucket on the edge of a Japanese-styled fountain and kicked back to enjoy simply being there.
As we finished off our first bottle, a too-good-looking-to-be-true-Hollywood type showed up saying they were going to be filming a television reality show where we were, said we could stay, but that they were bringing in the 'girls'. Whatever. I had my wine, had my feet up by the fountain, and no Hollywood producer would scare me off. So in came the cast--I don't believe I'm allowed to say who it was so will play it safe--and they started chatting with us about what we were up to, about the amount of wine bottles we had and our plans for the night. These girls could have been our daughters, were Hollywood beautiful and couldn't have been nicer. Yep, it's true. They were nice.
The night ended up being more wild than this 42 year-old anticipated and led to the dreaded not-quite-sober-not-quite-intoxicated walk down Sunset Boulevard to our hotel at 5:30 AM. (No, we weren't with the TV girls--we were on our own.)
I felt more alive than I have felt in years during those hours spent laughing and drinking and flirting and bullshitting all night long. I loved meeting people who were actors in waiting. I loved talking writing with other writers who had amazing stories to share with the world. I loved the hope in everyone's voices, the determination, the 'knowing' that their turn at the spotlight was just around the corner, and the optimism that had them laughing at current bumps in the road. Where else in the world can you find that feeling of dreams coming true all around you?
The next day at sunset we witnessed a band of drummers creating havoc on Venice Beach and drawing a huge crowd. Police cars came from all directions down the beach, their lights flashing red on the sand as the sun set over the Pacific and the glow of the Santa Monica pier served as background. As the sirens flashed, the drummers kept beating and the crowd they attracted jumped to the rhythm, waved their arms in the air and chanted "play on, play on, play on". Eventually they left the beach to walk down the street parade style, most barefoot, some wearing bikinis, some wearing belly-dancing attire, and others in shorts but all chanting "play on, play on, play on" as the drummers kept right on drumming down the road.
As I left Los Angeles, I bought drinks for a couple who had just gotten married and were headed on their honeymoon. They were shocked that a stranger would pick up their tab and came over to chat with me. All I said to them was, "I like seeing happy people in love. Be good to each other." The way they smiled touched me deep down in my heart because it summed up what I felt over the weekend.
My girls' trip to Los Angeles reminded me of a few of life's necessities. It reminded me that happiness is right there waiting to be had. It reminded me that the creative spirit is alive and well and flourishing. It reminded me that I can still 'hang', although my recovery time isn't what it used to be. It reminded me that beauty is everywhere. It reminded me that kindness is always cool. It reminded me that timeless friendships are priceless. It reminded me that even too-good-looking-to-be-true Hollywood types are nice. It reminded me that, yes, some dreams are broken; but Sunset Boulevard has witnessed more than its fair share of dreams come true. Los Angeles reminded me that 'playing on' is the only option.