"You're so skinny! You look great!"
"You've got some great color in your face."
There's something within me that's changed. The scale will gleefully deny its involvement, and thanks to copious amounts of sunblock and obsessive hat-wearing in the Holy Land, the reality is that my face is no more or less rosy than it was when I left in May. But still, there are reasons a person can look different.
Because certain decisions have been made, for example. Because I'm learning to deal differently with difficult issues that come up instead of letting them fester. Because opportunities have popped up that make me realize I have an abundance of riches to choose from. Because family is supportive and providing new opportunities to celebrate. Because people seek my input on things I care about. Because I'm part of the conversation, because I can contribute skills to the projects and people who are rising up meet the Jewish future. Because change is imminent, and scary, and exciting.
Looking back, I think the whole quest-for-change-thing started when I chose a new phone last year. I could have gone with silver--it was what I'm used to, and goes with everything, it's unobtrusive and functional, and really, why go with something flashy when you can go with something classic? But that day, I gave into a whim, and purchased an orange phone, embracing a flash of whimsical color in a monochrome life.
I think it began that moment, when I identified that there was a pattern of sameness that was comforting, but unexciting and unstimulating. It was easy, because maintaining the status quo always is easier than choosing something unusual or unknown. There's this double-edged sword called inertia that traps us all: items and people in motion stay in motion, and those at rest remain sedentary. So, I'm choosing to overcome intertia of the second definition in favor of the first; choosing to change toward a new trajectory.
Predictably, people want to know what I'm going there FOR. "Why Los Angeles?" "What's the new job?" "Are you pitching a screenplay?" There is no new job. I'm in the fortunate position to have steady clients, for whom the work happens over the phone and the internet--which I can do from anywhere. And as for the "why L.A.?" question, my basic answer is "why not?" The weather's better, it's a big city with a big, young creative Jewish population, and thanks to an immense social network, I have some people there I know well, and others I'd like to know better. I will miss my family, who are all East Coasters, but I'll visit, and it's a great comfort to know that I won't be lonely in Los Angeles, a statement I can make solely because technology has so enabled me.
As for the industry, I won't say it's not an attractor. If someone invites me to the Emmys or Oscars, it's not like I'm going to say no. And I appreciate the confidence of my friends, that I have what it takes creatively to create and pitch a screenplay. There are definitely creative things (Groundlings and UCBT, you're on notice) that I'd like to do while I'm in LA. But I'm not under any delusions that my simple act of moving across the country will yield some sort of industry-related opportunity, especially since I have friends who have been plugging away toward Hollywood careers for years with little or no success. I know it's a tough business, and it's not my primary goal to fight and scratch my way in. But my being there allows me to be present on the fringes of a world that I've long wondered about. (Maybe it's time to test that Jews in Hollywood thing.)
And then there's the other thing. Writing about NYC Jewish singles for nearly five years had me Bradshaw-wondering if the issues were local, indigenous to large cities with large Jewish populations, or nationwide. In exploring Jewish single life, perhaps for a book that seems to be perpetually in proposal stage, I think a wider scope of experience might serve my personal needs and my propel my professional purpose. I spent several months in Jerusalem, and became fixated on Srugim, the TV show about Orthodox Jewish singles. The issues were the same as on the Upper West Side, but with an Israeli accent. Are the issues the same in Los Angeles, but with a "dude..." fixed on the end of every sentence? Or does the industry's premium on beauty and youth invade the dating scene, creating impossible standards with a distinctly West Coast flavor?
It's time to embrace change, and hope that inertia, my social network, and the California sunshine do the rest. I'm choosing to do the new. And I'm excited to see what happens next.