The airplane was making its final descent into its destination—wait, I mean, my destination. The destination I had been climbing toward since I was a small child, and that was LAX. More specifically, Hollywood. I always dreamed of moving there and I told everyone in my world, which until now has been no bigger than the small town of Columbia, Missouri. I referred to Missouri as “misery” because it was seen to me as a cage, holding me back from what I truly desired in life: Hollywood. If I could only have broken through that cage door, I could be there. Oh Hollywood. I felt as if my whole life I was reaching that impossible goal, as if trying to get a picture of the famous “Hollywood” sign in Hollywood Hills from Sunset and Bronson, an intersection I’ve heard has the best view of the sign. The sign is easy to see from afar and on television, but when trying to capture its image up close is nearly impossible.
My family laughed at me when I told them I wanted to move to Hollywood. It all started when I was just old enough to talk, but back then I think my family assumed it was all just a pipe dream that would never come true. I think they thought the more I grew up, the more I would realize that perhaps Hollywood wasn’t for me. But they were seriously wrong.
“Kath-Char, you’ll never make it. Hollywood is a dangerous place, I think you should stay in Missouri with us,” my mom never supported the idea of me moving to Hollywood.
“But mom, you know I’ve wanted this since…forever!”
“We know, but you can’t just move out there and expect to make it, you need to at least get some type of education or even a job.”
“Honey, you can’t just move there, it’s not that easy,” my dad used to tell me. “You know how many people move there trying to be what you want to be? Millions. And how many make it? Just a few. Face it hun, you might not be able to.”
I hated when he said that; as if I couldn’t make it or something. Please, does he even know how bad I want it? Not to mention how hard I’ve worked. I was a Thespian in high school. I had the leading role in every single school production. I was even involved in plays outside of school. Any chance I could act, I did it. I was in the show choir at school. It was always lights, camera, action—
In the center of it all. I loved it.
So, I decided to graduate from high school early and in doing so, it would give me that much more time in Hollywood. Any time spent at high school in the middle of “misery” is just time wasted in my opinion. My parents did not like the idea of me leaving high school early, but I think that they figured it would be one less kid to worry about.
My older brother is barely surviving on his own; crashed his car into a ditch, can hardly pay his bills, and was offered to be a model for Hollister. He thinks he is moving to LA. Ha, I would like to see him try. He has a strong dislike for me and I don’t understand why. Maybe he thinks all of my singing and dancing is annoying. Whenever our family was going somewhere, the only question he had was, “Is Katie going?” and if the answer was yes, he would reply with, “Then I’m not going.”
Then the twins are crazy, they just turned 12. Brendan is always throwing tantrums, screaming, and hitting things. He thinks he is a skater, with his hair that covers his eyes and Vans shoes he wears all the time. He looks like he could belong in California though, I will at least give him that. Lauren is Brendan’s twin, she is the sweetest and most well-mannered in the entire house. We all often wonder where she came from because she is nothing like the rest of us. The twins are always playing Halo on their XBOX and it frequently results in a fight between them.
So, I figure by me graduating and leaving the house earlier than expected could probably do my parents a favor more than anything. Now they don’t have to listen to my dramatic stories of a boy who I gave my heart to in Kentucky much longer. Or the newest “pueblo” I met in the Caribbean. “Pueblo” is the name my best friend and I call a cute guy.
Now, my dream became a reality. I looked out the window and could see it—the thick, black saturation covering the city of my dreams—Los Angeles. Sixteen lane freeways, graffiti on so many of the road signs, windy roads with huge advertisements on billboards cover the city. Culture is everywhere I look—from Downtown Los Angeles to Beverly Hills to Santa Monica—so many places to soak up the beauty of the west coast. Interstate 5 intersects with Highway 101 and there is the exit of my dreams—Sunset Boulevard. From the plane I can even see the Hollywood Hills. My heart beated faster as the wheels of the plane scraped the ground as we come in for a landing.
Day one of going into Hollywood came. I wasn’t sure where to go or what to do, but I once saw the Hollywood season of The Real World on MTV where one of the girls was trying to become a singer, so she stood on Hollywood Boulevard and sang. People threw dimes into a small box she had lying on the sidewalk with stars embedded in them with celebrities’ names. One day, my name will be on a star on Hollywood Boulevard, of this I am sure. So, in following her footsteps, I decided to do it: stand on one of the most famous intersections in the world—Hollywood and Vine—and act.
I parked my car in a Walgreens parking lot. Visible to me was the famous Knickerbocker Hotel, which looked almost abandoned with its rickety sign, held up by wooden stilts. To my left were the hills, and a piece of the “Hollywood” sign. I could see the Capitol Records building, which mimicked a bunch of records stacked on top of each other. Near the Knickerbocker were apartments—painted canary yellow and grey, but of course stained with black from the smog. One of those apartments on Hollywood Boulevard is where I dream of living, in the center of Hollywood. I know it may dangerous for an eighteen year old, but I am determined.
So I made my way to Hollywood and Vine, one of the most well known, yet most uneventful intersections in all of Los Angeles. I was expecting neon lights, lots of people, lots of traffic, and a giant intersection sign—but really; it is just an average intersection of a larger road with a smaller one. Hollywood Boulevard is rather scary, but well known with its stars on the sidewalk. Vine Street is just a side back road of Hollywood Boulevard. Even though this is just an average intersection, I figure someone important is bound to walk by me, like an agent.
I put down a small box and threw a few dollars in it for bait money and started singing.
“The sun will come out, tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar it’s tomorrow. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow!”
Of course I still had all of my lines memorized so it was no problem for me act just as though I was on the stage, lights pointing at me and pictures flashing. Oh gosh, someone really did just take a picture of me, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from acting. These tourists had fanny packs, large sunglasses, and Virginia Tech t-shirts on. The flash was startling, I felt like I was being photographed for a newspaper. They stood and watched me, and the kids threw a few coins into the box and they continued on their way.
“You’re always a day, away-y-y-y-y!” I extended the ending of the song while pointing to the Virginia Tech tourists.
After a few hours of acting out random scenes as they came into my mind, and having a few spectators give me their two cents, I was tired. The two cents I received from people was either literally two cents or they were snide comments: “What do you think you’re doing, kid?”
I thought of Bri’s response on The Real World and replied, “Well, you have to start somewhere.”
That shut them up, and they kept walking. Some stood and watched for a while. Some just kept going. Once the sun started to go down, over the hills, I gave up for the day. I was starting to get hungry and tired. So I bent down to pick up the money box, which had a few sprinkles of change on it, and as I was coming back up, a public transportation bus went by and caught my eye as I did a double take. The side of the bus had a Hollister ad on it—and there was my brother. The Hollister model, on the side of a bus, making its way down Hollywood Boulevard. Oh my gosh.
How could this be? My brother actually became famous before me. And the worst part is, he didn’t even have to try. He didn’t even want to become famous, he just wanted a job so he can pay off his bills. How could he be a model—he’s not even that good looking. And to end up on a side of a bus, but not just any bus—a bus in Hollywood. Ugh. I hope he is happy, because even though being featured on the side of a bus can be considered a big honor—it is nothing compared to what I want to become: a star.
-written fall 2008 for my fiction workshop class I took at UCF, based on real characters.