August is always a special month for me. I find myself in reflection mode. Not only is it the happy month of my wedding anniversary, but it’s also the month I moved to LA and started my incredible West Coast journey.
I had always wanted to live in California. I had been living in NYC for ten years and was uber-ready for a change. Six months out of a very serious (and quite devastating) relationship, I was living in a padded room in some angry guy’s apartment in East Harlem whom I had met on Craigslist. (In an odd bit of foreshadowing, he had soundproofed the room I was staying in to use as a recording studio, then never did). I was working a waitressing job I didn’t particularly care about anymore and my acting career was ok, but not exactly thriving. At the management company where I was represented I heard about a trip to Los Angeles they sponsored every so often. You’d go to LA for a week and get to audition for all these LA casting directors- a sort of “try LA on” trip. I was considering going even though it cost more money than I could imagine spending, when my roommate came up to me and growled “My sister is coming from Israel. I need the room back so you have to move out by August 1st”. That gave me about 3 weeks. I picked up extra shifts at the restaurant, worked as many doubles as I could and signed up for the trip. Why the heck not? What did I have to lose?
I came out with two bags, ditching the rest of my stuff either at a friend’s or in the trash. Truthfully I didn’t have much, after years of moving, chaos, storage raffles, you name it. I was flying pretty light. I had no idea if I would stay in LA. But when I got here, that next morning I went out for a walk. We were being put up in the Beverly Garland Hotel. I woke up early and took a walk down Vineland, then turned onto Ventura Blvd. (I had no idea people didn’t walk here yet. Hey, I was from NYC!) As I walked down the street, bright sun bathing me, something bubbled up inside of me and found it’s way right out of my mouth. A calm and most certain voice declared out loud, to no one and to everyone – I’M NOT LEAVING. Just as plain as that. It was so obvious. I needed to be here. The voice was sure, steady and resolved. I’m not leaving. I belong here. Even though it was not practical at all to stay- I only had two bags and almost no money- literally, I think I had about $600. But I knew I had to stay. I had found an open window. And I went through it.
The open window theory is a personal theory I’ve been developing for quite some time. It goes like this. Every so often in your life, you will be presented with an open window; whether you choose to go through it or not is up to you. This window will lead you into a totally new and different place – almost always a much better place – it’s almost like the window leads to a whole new land. Now the trick is, the window doesn’t stay open indefinitely. In fact many times it closes rather quickly. So you have to recognize the open window and go through it right away. This doesn’t mean doing things in a rash or crazy way. It just means being in the moment and trusting your gut.
I can look back through my life and see that certain times in the past, there were a few windows that were opened that I didn’t go through. I didn’t recognize them as open windows at the time. And they closed. Sometimes, I can see windows open in other’s lives. But I can’t make them climb through.
I wonder to myself: why is the metaphor a window? Why not a door? I guess because with windows there’s a certain amount of danger involved. When you’re standing at a distance, you can’t see what’s below. It’s not as easy as walking through a door. You don’t know if you’re going to fly or float or drop or what. You just have to trust.
Going through that open window nine years ago changed my life. 30 days later I was introduced to the man who would become my husband – a wonderful story for another time. I lived out a life-long fantasy of being a singer and touring in a band. I found voice over and stepped into my career. I thank the universe every day that I saw the opportunity and took the chance. If I had hesitated, if I had second-guessed myself, I wouldn’t know the happiness I know today. I wouldn’t have the life I have today. Sometimes we just know what’s right for us. Do we dare? Do we dare to go through the open window?
I certainly have let the window close. In high school I wanted to go to the Naval academy and fly F-14s. But I didn’t get my shit together in time and didn’t go. Maybe there was a part of me that really didn’t want to go…or that thought I couldn’t make it. Or maybe I’m just too lazy. I wonder how my life would be different if I had gone.
And sometimes others close the window for you. I had the opportunity as a high school senior to go to college at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. But my parents said no. Too far away, too expensive. I wonder how my life would be different had I gone. It’s somewhat ironic that I find myself just outside of Chicago now.
I’ve had a related theory, or perhaps philosophy is a better term, for sometime…and that’s if opportunity knocks, invite it in for a drink. You don’t have to take the opportunity, but it’s in your best interests to at least hear what opportunity has to say.