The days surrounding September 1st were a blurry flurry. The third week of classes is always hectic as we finalize casting and rush to get everyone registered prior to the Friday end of third week deadline.

September 1st fell on a Tuesday this year, but more importantly, my oldest brother Don and his wife arrived in Los Angeles on the Sunday before, after a four-day-dash across the continent, towing their trusty U-Haul trailer, two miniature schnauzers in the car. With a little bit of grace in the universe, they pulled into downtown LA, and were able to park their behemoth vehicle on the curb outside my building. My brother’s birthday was Monday, so I’d made a little birthday eve dinner for him. Sitting around my dining room table on the occasion of his birthday/arrival in my city was almost too moving to bear. In addition, it was the first social meal I’d had with anyone since that Friday, March 13th when everything shut down. I’d even gone across the street to buy some flowers to have on the dining room table, and a chocolate cake.

Their plan was to meet the moving truck on Monday, unpack it, and move into their apartment. Best laid plans and all landed the moving truck at the curb of their new apartment at around 2:00PM, too late for the crew to begin unloading. I invited them to stay another night, so they dropped off the trailer before returning to downtown for a second dinner, this time, pizza from my local pizza joint. A little less festive as birthday dinners go. Poor things were completely knackered.

The schnauzers are adorable. Auntie Els loves puppies with the rest of them, but when Cali squatted on my living room carpet, I shrieked, bringing my sister-in-law running from the guest bedroom. Two days with two dogs was enough to convince me that I’m happy in my pet-free solitude for now.

Tuesday began with our 8:00AM THTR 130 class, me as chat moderator to Tina Haatainen-Jones, who guided them through the considerations of a Costume Designer. The day unfolded with the typical meetings and my GESM class, and at about 5:30, I leapt up from the chair and put on my sneakers, then got in the car to go to the reservoir.

September 1st. Ahhh. The hours changed today, closing at 6:30, I realized as I walked in through the gate and was greeted by one of the reservoir custodians. It was 6:15PM. I turned around and started up the back route, plotting how I would get a walk in in spite of the closure. It was somewhere along the road that I suddenly realized the other reason September 1st was crucial.

It was our 36th wedding anniversary. Thirty-four with my husband, two without. There are a cluster of important days at the end of August, beginning of September that goes like this: son’s birthday, friend’s birthday, anniversary of my Mom’s death, brother’s birthday, and then my former wedding anniversary.

Head down, as my life tape ran through the events of that momentous day 36 years ago, I plodded up Canyon Road, past Lake Hollywood Park, toward the two viewing areas – one looking south over the reservoir and Los Angeles, and the other looking north to the Hollywood sign. Panting, I reached the top of the hill and considered my next steps.

I started down the cobblestone driveway, lined with cacti and grasses leading up to the house I think of as the castle, past the huge curving white wall, and down the sandy trail.

I thought I would just go down to the gate near the dam, then turn around and head back up the trail. But suddenly, I remembered the path leading up to the neighborhood, and started up that way, though I didn’t know anything about it.

As I climbed the steep path to the road, I passed a young couple just starting down.

“Do you know if this route will take me back to the north gate of the reservoir eventually?”

They looked to each other, shrugged, and sheepishly admitted that they didn’t live around there, so were not able to tell me. I chirped back to them, “What’s the worth thing that can happen? I’ll have a really nice long walk!”

And off I went to the top of the hill. The perfect metaphor for my 36th anniversary walk.

Alone, lost, and sweating my way up hill as the light faded.

At least that’s what it felt like for the next hour or so, as I climbed up the streets to try to get to the hilltop vista points for the Hollywood sign. I passed a few people, one of them I eventually asked. My phone’s GPS told me I was going in the general right direction, and I was working up a pretty good sweat.

By the time I got back to my car, I’d walked about 4.5 miles, so not bad considering I’d thought I’d been thwarted from my walk when I arrived. I drove south, because there was one more thing I needed to see to mark 9/1/20.

September 1st was also the Red Alert RESTART campaign.

We shine our lights red tonight as a call to action to YOU and to Congress to pass the RESTART Act and save venues and millions of unemployed workers across the country. Please join us and call on your local representatives to take action now and pass the RESTART Act: ​wemakeevents.org/

Hundreds of local lighting designers and technicians worked to light up many buildings in Southern California and all over the country red to promote this legislation. I’d mentioned the event to our Theatre Manager, CB Borger, and he and Joe Shea had worked on lighting up the Bing Theatre.

I’d been a fly on the wall for some of the planning for Red Alert Restart, and had been moved by the passion of the participants, the desire to make a difference, to request support for the hard–hit entertainment industry by COVID-19. There are so many people struggling with finding work, staying safe and this industry outpouring of volunteerism moved me deeply. As of my last check, 1,872 participants had lit their buildings red on Sept. 1st.

Since Sept. 1, I’ve enjoyed two walks around Lake Hollywood with my brother. The first day, there were deer in places I’d never seen them before. So in spite of feeling alone, lost and going all uphill, in the light of the days after Sept.1st, I know that that that is the farthest thing from reality.

3 thoughts

  1. I love that you are mapping our journey in weeks now! Beautiful writing, Els. I wish you a heartfelt anniversary, friend.

  2. Love this post, Els, with its many sentiments. Brava for your persistence on your September 1st walk! So great you’ve gotten to share the walk with your brother (and boy, does he look like your Dad); I’m jealous that he “whispered” out more deer than we usually see on the walk!

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