When we last left off, I was sitting in the middle lane of freeway 110 with cars whizzing by me on either side. Many of these cars were opting to lay on their horns.
For two of the longest minutes in the history of the human race, I alternated between trying to start the smoking car and broadcasting a stream of blasphemous adjectives into the general area of mile marker 84.5. The adjectives described either my car or the city of Los Angeles.
I decided to give it one more try before I would call Triple A (this would be call number three of my allowed four). I was well aware that if the car did not start, I may opt instead to simply get out of the car and reenact the movie Falling Down with Michael Douglas.
I got off the freeway and took it to the first place that looked like it fixed cars. I went inside and told them my car had overheated and asked if they could fix Jettas, as I didn’t see any Volkswagens in their lot.
“We’re an Auto Body Shop.”
This answer meant nothing to me, especially given my current state of mind. The tiny bit of knowledge I had concerning cars slipped right out of my noggin when I decided to never own one again.
I replied, “oh…so you can’t fix Volkswagens?”
“Only if it needs body work. You need to go to an Auto Repair place.”
So what, you’re like a dermatologist, and I need a surgeon? Great! Thanks a lot, buddy.
I did not say this aloud, thankfully, because it was a pretty stupid analogy. I asked him if there was a place nearby that could help me out. He made a call and gave directions.
I rolled up to the Auto Repair place. After some (stereotypically) rude customer service from the head of the place, we finally walked out to my car. One of the mechanics looked at it and started to get queasy. He begrudgingly told me he would call me back later in the day after he looked it over some more. I hopped on the subway and went home.
For the next few hours I ruminated over the possibility that I had made a grave error in judgment, and that the car I had bought was really only good for scrap metal. I thought of how I was going to get my money back. I thought about whether or not I would get a car again. I also thought about whether or not I should return to Los Angeles after the weekend.
Two days later I would be flying back to New York to finish a film I did over a year before. I got an email the night before I flew to Los Angeles asking if I’d be around the following weekend, which was hilarious timing. I ultimately knew I’d have to come back when they finished the project, but the fact that it was a mere eight days after I moved was completely in line with The Life of Jesse Gavin™. I already had my living situation set up in LA, and was in NYC for an audition, so delaying the trip probably would’ve been more complicated than getting it started. Plus the wheely system on my suitcase was malfunctioning so I kept crashing it everywhere I went. Ah, The Life of Jesse Gavin™.
So as I headed back to North Hollywood on my beloved Metro System, I decided to envision the worst-case scenario. What would I do? I could end the entire excursion with very little thinking. Figure out something with the car super fast, pack up my stuff and go.
I decided against this. Beyond the fiscal irresponsibility of such a decision, there was my destiny with this city. This city has been nagging at me from three thousand miles away for the last five years. I bought a one-way ticket here for January of 2005, but cancelled it and went to acting school instead. I started the process of moving here in the spring of 2007, but got back-to-back acting gigs through the end of the year and ended up signing a new apartment lease. I don’t think I’ve gone an entire week in the last five years where someone hasn’t told me I should move to Los Angeles for various reasons. Not that these people necessarily knew what they were talking about, I just found it interesting is all. It never happened with Chicago or London or even Scranton. If nothing else good comes out of this excursion, at least I’ll know that this city is not for me. But I know for sure that I won’t be able to know that if I don’t stick it out for a while and give it a shot.
I had told myself to give it six months. So six days is a bit short of that goal.
If it turned out the engine of the car was made out of old soda cans and cockroaches, and the guy I bought it from picked up and moved to Montana, I would just have to suck it up and get by on my trusty Metro. That’s not the way I wanted to do it out here, but hey I’m still giving it a shot. Maybe things would work themselves out and a car would be in my future, but maybe not. I made peace with the worst-case scenario, and felt rejuvenated.
I got off the train and began to really take in North Hollywood.
I went to a vintage store and bought a funky shirt for fifteen bucks. I tried on a bunch of random stuff, and talked a lot to the outrageously cool girls that work at such stores.
I went to the Hot Dog place and had a Veggie Dog. The guy across the counter said with a thick New York accent, “my name’s Willy”. I said, “hi, Willy”. He said “Hey, how ya doin’? what can I get for you?”.
I said, “I’m thinking about one of those veggie dogs”. He asked me if I had had a veggie dog before and I said yes, and he said “thank God” as he clasped his hands and looked towards the heavens, “cuz you’ll be able to appreciate how much better mine are than everyone else’s.”
Willy was right.
I went back to the house and hung out with my roommate, the freewheeling guy from Rochester. He’s kind of like Matthew McConaughey’s character from “Dazed and Confused”. We were talking about missing the seasons and he said the following phrase:
“Yeah man, there’s no seasons here. Oh, man – Santa can’t come. There’s no snow, his reindeer can’t drive the fucking, the uh, the sleigh – you know what I mean? Ha Ha. Dude.”
I started laughing uncontrollably when he said this, and I feel like for the first time since I had arrived I was able to just relax and enjoy. I was waiting on the mechanic, so I couldn’t really take any steps forward until I knew the situation.
My roommate, Danny, was talking about playing hockey growing up. He played for the club college team at University of Colorado, which is pretty impressive. But he quit after three games: “yeah man, I was going to school, and working and playing hockey, and shit I had to party, ya know? So I scored a goal in the third game and then I told the coach, hey man, I got my goal, I’m good”.
The “I’m good” referred to his feeling satiated by his accomplishment, not to his skill as a hockey player. He showed me a Trophy he had from high school. This guy has been living out of his truck for two months, carrying along pretty much just the bare essentials as he traveled across country. One of those essentials was his high school hockey trophy.
Later that night I went over to Eric Saez’s birthday party. We went and saw the midnight showing of Quantum Solace – the new James Bond movie. It was pretty good – I only fell asleep for about a half hour of it (this is actually a compliment – I’d been up since 6:30am and the movie is two and a half hours long and I don’t care much for action movies).
The next morning I got a call from the car place. They said they couldn’t fix it – it was too messed up. I was mentally prepared for this, so I calmly asked if they could refer me to someone who would be willing to try. I took the subway down and drove it over to Silver Lake. I left my car with Carlos, who is the greatest mechanic and person in the world. He seemed excited about fixing it. I listed all the things that the other place told me was wrong with it, and he said, “Yeah, ok, we fix it, no problem.”
So I left the car with him and walked around Silver Lake. This is where my friend Kari Kurto from High School lives. It’s very similar to the East Village in New York. Kind of what North Hollywood is aspiring to be, but it’s already there. Walking around there got me into a good mood. I took the subway home and stopped in Hollywood. Later that night I just hung out and got mentally prepared for the shoot. I’d be leaving for New York the next afternoon.
I woke up in the morning and got a call from Carlos. He’d have it ready for me on Tuesday morning. I got a price of 750 from him, which is a lot of money. But not for all the things he did. I also like to look at this from the perspective of my initial searching price. I planned to spend 2500. If I had spent 2500 and the car needed to 200 dollars in repairs on something, that’d be 2700. I bought a car for 1600 and it needed 750 in repairs. It was still in my original budget. I also was planning on having a chat with Fernando the car seller about contributing to the repairs, which I was confident he would do as he seemed a decent person, and I knew what he originally paid for the car as well as where he lived. I called him quite a few times through all of this and he seemed really upset that this was happening.
I decided to go see a movie on my way to the airport. A really beautiful movie called War Eagle Arkansas that a friend of mine directed, that was only playing in LA. Put me in the right place for going and acting – kind of like watching “Don Cherry Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Hockey” before playing a game.
I took the red eye out to NYC. The shoot was fun. I couldn’t sleep on the plane, so I ended up napping whenever I wasn’t shooting. It was cold in New York! Sheesh. I stayed up most of the night and had beers with my buddy from college Danny Fischer. I had a 730am flight on Monday morning back West.
I finally got home at 3:30pm. Walking into my crazy hostel-house in North Hollywood, the thought occurred to me, “man, it feels good to be back home”.
I broke out my guitar and started playing, something I really had not done since I left my place in Jersey City on October 7th. It felt good to play.
“Hey. Joo play da…geetar?” In walks Kristham, the aspiring hip-hop artist and dancer from Madrid…