The Hollywood Sign

It’s been six long months since I last posted. A lifetime ago during this unexpectedly creepy year. This very unsettling 2020 creeped forward like a suspense-filled horror story. First it broke bad with the pandemic, or plague, as I prefer to call it. Then came the summer of social unrest, unprecedented since the late 60’s for those who were around to live it. Then came the election and regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, turned a national event into a real creep show.

Today is finally New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2020. The dawning of the New Year, 2021, brings hope and promise, including a vaccine many won’t take, and the familiar image of a fat baby in diapers wearing a 2021 sash and party hat. The New York Times Square ball will drop. Amen.

Following two years of discussion, during the (initial) height of the pandemic in California, we finally pulled the trigger for another social experiment. After leaving our home of almost twenty years in the western suburbs of Chicago for a vintage apartment near the lakefront, we were ready to return to California. Plenty of people wondered why.

We made it to LA at the end of July without too many dents and dings. I won’t count my partial retinal tear outside of Denver, that’s another story. Our timing was good. The raging wildfires were nearby, and a few weeks after getting settled, there was a 4.3 magnitude earthquake at 11:30 on a Friday night. The damn epicenter was only six miles away and ten miles down. I heard and then felt the ground rumble underneath my feet as the shockwave rolled from north to south. For hours, eyes wide open, I lay in bed waiting for the aftershock. It never came. Now this creepy year is coming to an end. No more shocks. Amen.

We’re back living in southern California after twenty-one years. Back near the kids, whether they like it or not. Back to the land of the golden sun and the Hollywood sign. An inspiration for my writing and even bigger dream of elevating my manuscript, The Walk-On to another medium.

I have always been intrigued by the Hollywood sign. It started out spelled as Hollywoodland, a 1923 temporary advertisement for a local real estate development. It became popular and representative of Hollywood, and now its rich history in the entertainment industry symbolizes different things to different people. To me it’s always spelled out the dream that film actors, writers, directors, producers, and other entertainment folks all hold dear.

Today, December 31, 2020 – New Year’s Eve, on a 65 degree day without a cloud in the sky, we got some exercise socially distancing on a trail in Griffith Park. We hiked toward the Hollywood sign, rounding the Griffith Park Observatory. You may remember it from a scene in the movie LaLa Land when Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone dance under the stars.

Robert Frost wrote of the Road Not Taken. I reflect on the one taken as I evaluate the results of our move. The fires were controlled and the air cleared. Christmas has come and gone, and 2021 waits in the wings.

What’s next? Nobody really knows but I hope the new vaccines will finally return some normalcy to our plague-upended lives. I’m no sage here, just one of millions of people around the weary and burdened globe praying for a little respite.

We got pretty high up on the Hollywood sign trailhead this afternoon. I looked out over the diverse sprawl of Los Angeles, the City of Angels that ends west at the Pacific Ocean. I glanced back at the Hollywood sign representing decades of those who came before me to write, to film, to star. Some succeeded and some failed. I think about that every time I see the sign in the distance. I’m rooting for success. Maybe we will laugh together – in person – again in 2021. Maybe we can go to the movies again. Maybe Disneyland will open again. Tonight I’m happy it’s New Year’s Eve. Goodbye creepy 2020.


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