I did it! I’m here! I finally made it. Hollywood, CA; where dreams are made; where fantasies become realities. The lights, the hills, the cobalt blue ocean, the smell of salt water in the air, and the endless stretch of golden beaches. It’s all I ever wanted since graduating from college; to live with the stars among the rolling hills of Los Angeles; to write, to act, to break into “The Industry”, to make a name for myself, and maybe even take a walk on the Red Carpet.
It’s a dream come true. I finally got what I always wanted. So, why do I feel so damn empty? Why do I feel like there’s a hole inside me; like I’ve lost an appendage; an arm, a leg, a foot, an ankle? I’ll tell you why. It’s because in moving out here, I abandoned two people in my life that I care for deeply; my girlfriend and her beautiful, soon to be four-year-old daughter. They’re the light of my life. They give me purpose and meaning. They fill me up with an indescribable feeling of joy and fulfillment.
So, why didn’t they come with me? Well, they just couldn’t do it. It wasn’t feasible. My girlfriend’s support system-her parents, her family-they all live in Colorado. Her ex-husband, who’s still very much a big part of his daughter’s life, is a big shot financial officer at the Marriot in downtown Denver. And the little one, bless her heart, suffers from all types of allergies, which causes her esophagus to swell up and become irritated. The poor thing is allergic to almost every food you can think of; gluten, rice, nuts, dairy. She couldn’t even eat her own Halloween candy after Trick-or-Treating. She had to give it away to her best friend. It just breaks my heart knowing that in another month’s time she’s going to be celebrating her fourth birthday and while everyone else is enjoying cake and ice cream she’ll have to settle for avocado and tilapia. We’re still hoping the condition gets better. But, from what the doctors are saying, it may be quite a while until she makes any progress.
So, as you can see, asking my girlfriend to move out to California is neither fair nor a very realistic option. Dragging an allergy-stricken three-year-old cross-country right when she’s in the middle of her treatment wouldn’t just be idiotic, it would be downright dangerous.
Now, we’ve tried to make the long-distance thing work, but it’s been difficult. There’s only so much you can do through the phone and Skype to maintain a healthy relationship. Most of the time, we end up arguing about stupid stuff like Facebook posts and Twitter. Breaking up and getting back together by the end of the call is pretty much the standard. I fly back whenever I can, but airfare’s a big drain on the wallet. And for a starving writer living in an overpriced apartment near the beach, there’s not much money for Starbucks, let alone trips to Denver. Not to say I don’t love visiting. I do. It’s absolutely wonderful. It’s like being on a honeymoon. We do all the fun things we never did when I was living there, like goofy-golf, bowling, hiking, go-kart racing. And the best thing is, we cram it all in one weekend. It’s awesome. I never want to leave. I wish I could stay there.
In fact, whenever I get back to LA, everything feels so empty and lonely. My fantasy apartment by the ocean doesn’t seem so glamorous. I miss the smiles, the jokes, the laughter. I miss playing hide-and-go seek and reading books before bedtime. Sure, I got my dog, Rupert, to keep me company. He’s a pretty good cuddler. But I’d much rather have a kiss from my girlfriend. At least she doesn’t lick her own testicles!
So, I find myself faced with a pretty important decision. Do I stay here and try to hustle my way to becoming some big shot Hollywood writer/actor? Or, do I move back to Denver where I’m already a celebrity to the people that really matter? What’s more important in life? Chasing a dream, trying to hustle my way into an industry that’s notoriously nepotistic and narcissistic. Or is it being with the ones you love; starting a family, being a good husband, a devoted father?
By the way I poised that question you can tell I’ve pretty much already made my decision. Now, it’s just a matter of working out the logistics. I have to say, I’m pretty excited. Starting a family of my own is something I’ve never really considered. For most of my life, I’ve been focused on one person and one person only: ME! ALL THINGS ANDREW!
It feels good to be letting go of that self-absorption; to be a part of something bigger than just my own little egocentric universe. And moving back doesn’t mean I can’t still work on my writing and acting. Quite the contrary. With the recent state incentives program, Colorado is quickly becoming a bourgeoning film industry. Just the other day, I had a talk with my former acting instructor, Benjy Dobrin, who said he’s never seen this much growth and opportunity in Denver. Good to hear. It makes the transition all that much easier. I have some projects in the works that I’d like to get cranking on. I’m adapting my novel, Some Are Sicker Than Others, into a full-on theater production with lights, props, stage crew, everything.
So, with all of those projects in the pipe hole plus a new family, I’ll be one busy little bee come this New Year. Sure, I’ll miss the beach, the surf, the sand, the water. But what good is all that stuff if you don’t have someone to share it? We can always move back once we have a more realistic plan developed.
Anyway, thanks for letting me share about my experience with long-distance relationships. And to answer to the question: Are they really worth it? Yes. Absolutely. But, in order for them to work, I think you have to agree on a solid date for getting back together. Leaving it unknown is too much stress on everybody, especially when there’s a child involved in the equation. I’m very fortunate my girlfriend supported me through this little California excursion. A lot of women wouldn’t have put up with it. They would’ve said, “Bye bye, see you later. Don’t let the door hit you on the you know what!”
Then where would I be? All alone in an overpriced apartment, in a city full of strangers, trying to get into a party to which I wasn’t even invited.