It was, for me, the right film at the right time. Of course, it was a beautiful escape from the certain ugliness coming our way in 2017, plus there was the imaginative, skillful filmmaking, and the combustible chemistry of two leads, but one of the sure reasons I was so moved by La La Land was its theme of two artistic types who fall in love and try to make it all work, their relationship and their art.
From the very beginning, The Husband and I kept at our artistic pursuits, often taking turns being the breadwinner so that the other could try and fly high. For decades, we both would have “day jobs” that we would double-up on or discard depending on what the other was doing with their art.
While watching the movie, I had a memory jump out of a deep file in my brain, you know, the one marked “Never Consider This Again”, and it suddenly swept over me. In spring of 1982 I was invited to play a role in a rarely produced Tennessee Williams play and in Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes at the Williamsburg Theatre Festival that coming summer. Without an audition! I thought about it good and hard and I was on the verge of accepting, when I just could not bear to leave my lover of three years. I could not pull away from the romance or the daily athletic sex. I sensed that if I went away for an entire summer, I might not return.
That lover became my boyfriend, then my partner, and in 2001, when were in our 22nd year as a couple, we shook everything up and for the pure adventure of it, we left Seattle and moved to Portland where we bought our first home.
When we arrived, I almost immediately got an agent, a role in a play, and a part in a film. To keep us afloat, my guy took a job selling high-end bed linens to rich people, which he hated. He did it so I could try and establish myself as an actor in Portland after a rather successful 20-year career in Seattle. But, I wanted to do more and do better for my little family and I ended up taking a full-time position, working a difficult job made more difficult by a monster boss. I tried, often with some success, to make this job creative, but it really wasn’t. I was kidding myself.
Three days before my 10th anniversary, I was laid off. I had anticipated getting a banner and balloons, but I got the boot.
Watching La la Land, it all flashed before me: Everything would have turned out differently if I had gone to Williamsburg, Mass. in the summer of 1982. And even more heartbreaking, I had walked away from the financial uncertainty of being a singer and actor to make some sure dough, wasting an entire decade of my life. This is the reason that the last minutes of La La Land had so much power for me. No wonder I had to be the last one out of the theatre, all puffy and red from crying.