I was ten years old and a newbie to Los Angeles, California, having moved from upstate New York (Buffalo to be precise) after my father got promoted and was relocated.
This east to west coast move was difficult for me. Very difficult. I went from a world I knew and loved, including having a best friend I lived next door too who was closer to me than maybe anyone, to an unknown fifth grade elementary school a week or two after arriving in a city where the sun was out practically every day and a TV star was my neighbor (Tony Danza!).
Now, I know kids have it much rougher but in my world, at ten-years-old, this was rough. I didn’t know how to suddenly fit in, considering I knew no one and everyone else seemed to know each other, not to mention we’re talking LOS ANGELES people. Coming from Buffalo, let me tell you. BIG difference in the reality before you, total culture shock, but that’s another story…
My main dilemma was making friends and dealing with terribly missing the ones I left behind. I was troubled and I started acting out in weird ways – wearing multiple layers of clothes, making lists with ways on how to not get too close to another friend, retreating into a world of make-believe…(started writing my first scripts around age 11 or so.) Fifth grade was tough.
But then something amazing happened.
I was cast in the school production of GREASE as Frenchie, one of the Pink Ladies. It’s a big part for anyone who doesn’t know and I beat out another girl for it. Needless to say, I was thrilled!!!!!!! It was the shining star in my horrible year. It made me happy. Oh so happy. I was practically floating out of school that day….
But then, after I arrived home, I learned in a matter-of-fact way that for two weeks before the play we would be returning to Buffalo for an uncles’s wedding.
I stopped in my tracks. The moment is still vivid in my memory and trust me, it was some time ago (hello, 37.) I couldn’t believe it. Did I hear wrong? How could this be?!
The next morning, I told the play director (who happened to be the mother of the actor who played Boner on Growing Pains) and in return she told me I couldn’t miss two weeks of rehearsals.
It took me less than a second to realize this meant I wasn’t going to play Frenchie. I was crushed. The one saving grace I found all year and now that was going to get pulled from me?? Really world??
Yes. It was. I was made an extra since I wouldn’t be returning until a few days before the play opened.
And that was the moment I learned this very important lesson that I channel often:
Life isn’t fair.