Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cinco Años

The night I moved to Los Angeles I went to a very interesting party and met a dude.  I had driven across the country from New York with my best friend. It was my first night in a new big city of hills and wonder.  The dude at the party told me he’d been here for five years.  I thought to myself, “Five years? People actually stay here for that long?” See, all I wanted to do was move here, make my mark and move back to Brooklyn. I left my heart back there in Prospect Park.  It’s still there – but I’ve since cloned it.

I’ve had many conversations in my life. The most important are those I share with my son every morning as I extoll about all the nonsense that makes up our reality.  For a while there, the most important talks I had were with New York City. Every morning as I took the Q train to Manhattan from my beautiful Brooklyn I asked that town to throw me the bone I thought deserved.  I was a cog in its machine. Fuck - I was the machine.

New York defines you. You don’t define her.  She either decides to write you into her poetry or not.  You’re destined to become a period, comma, or exclamation point.  She’s not one for question marks, questions take too long to answer. But in LA you become the poet again... if you so choose. She’s your mirror, LA. She allows you reflect. That’s what this post is about.

I used to ask NY to give me a sign that I was going in the right direction. Here and there she threw me that bone, but in the end, the city forced me out like a splinter. I bought the best shitty Acura there was, drove it across the country, planted that splinter by the Pacific and grew roots. I started a family here.

The love of my life, the mother of my child was born and raised in NYC. She had been there the entire time but we couldn’t find one another there. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re really asking for. That’s the point in the end - we are here to ask questions regardless of the answers, or when said answers arrive.

I moved here for many reasons, but five men led me here. My father implanted so much nonsense in my brain that I had to go to the most nonsensical place imaginable.  Then there’s Tom, the man who fell in love with a fish and got “Big”. Jim, the man with the elastic face and the bright sadness, so bright he’s a child of the sun. Andy, the man who discovered how to be absurd for a living and never really die, the first adult to speak my language. Then there’s my sweet Robin, the man who saved my heart and sanity with everything from his standup, to Mrs. Doubtfire, the movie that healed my heart after divorce, and let me know that I could make weird faces and voices for a living, as well as touch the hearts of young people that have a hill to climb and purpose bigger than their house, their school, or their town. Robin was and is the reason.  I’ve not written about him yet because I’m still at a massive loss, we all are, but he’s the only hero of mine who I have on my wall, and I always have. I’ve followed him around cities and decades. He’s been the mentor I’ve never met. I wrote him a long letter once that I sent to his manager.  I thought to post it during his passing but I was losing it inside. Then, in a crying fit a month after his passing I realized what he did for me again, and why I was here, in Los Angeles.

I moved here for those boys and girls who have questions unanswered about growing up, about parents, about sex, about nothing. I moved here, because I didn’t want to bartend for a living. I moved here to start anew.  I moved here to make people smile.  I moved here to follow the question marks in hopes that they’d turn into a career that allows me to punch reality in the face with a fist full of nonsense and cry tears of joy.

I moved here. So did you. Away from friends, family and reality.

Here’s the thing; everyone knows life goes by quickly. Well it goes by even quicker here because the seasons don’t really change, and time flies by when you’re having fun. That’s the thing they don’t tell you when you’re moving here.  Countless people told me when I was moving here that the worst people are in LA. Yea I’m sure there out there, but I’ve been blessed with the best friends, friends I call family, and time does go by fast because we are actually having the best fucking time living our dreams out. I lucked out in this town, because of two women that are my dear friends and sisters, Kim Vasilakis and Rachel Germaine. 

Today is my five-year mark in Los Angeles. I write this as a marker. I write this for us, and for the things people back home don’t necessarily know or understand.

I want you to know that I’m aware of your small victories, LA.  Like, that time you didn’t get the part, but a hero of yours laughed during your audition.  I write this because I know what it means to have your script read, they love it, you get no notes on it, but for some reason it doesn’t go all the way.  I write this because your aunts and uncles won’t know how great you’re doing till you’re on a prime time TV show. But I know, and trust me, so does your art.

We all liked playing house, we’re all a little strange, most of us are still the same outcasts we’ve always been except we’re all in the same gang now. Sure, we compete against each other from time to time, that’s how we sharpen our knives.  I see men twice my age shaking hands and exchanging war stories at auditions.  You know what?  It’s beautiful.  It’s why I’m here.  We were born to tell stories.

This place we live isn’t lala land. It’s home.  My first five years have been crazy. I’m writing a novel about it right now.  When I’m done I’ll let you read it.

It’s been a wild five years LA. You know it and I know it. But I gave you my heart, and we made you a son, his name is Phil.  We’ll be here, cogs in your machine, thanks for throwing me a bone. And Robin, if you’re listening I’m dedicating the next five years to you.


Matty McManus

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