Of all the things you wanted but never got, what was the one you wanted most?
How do these people possibly expect me to grow up and stop acting like a wise-ass teenager when everywhere I go, radios are still playing all the Top 40 hits from 1985-1986, when I was 16-17 years old?
We would go visit them, my big sister and I. Five kids! The biggest kids I had ever seen, all piling out of the same car. Sometimes it was the stationwagon, other times the pick-up with the cover and the windows. I would get lost back there.
They weren’t our closest cousins — we saw others much more often. But they were different somehow. Older, with homework and boyfriends. There were so many of them, they could be in each other’s way. When I was the youngest I couldn’t remember all their names. But they weren’t mad. They hugged me just the same.
Their house seemed as big as my school. They had a big field behind it that my mom said used to be a farm. One year they told me they had caught a rabbit back there and had cooked it. I thought they were joking, but they got some out of the refrigerator and showed me. I couldn’t believe it. My uncle even ate some and asked me if I wanted any. I took a bite and it tasted like a sweet, scrawny chicken. I wouldn’t eat any more.
They didn’t have regular games and toys like we did. They had roller skates and keys. And charades and plays under the pecan tree. And after bedtime they had flashlights and ghost stories about the big empty house through the trees with the broken windows. They had ghosts.
I remember one year we went to their house for the weekend. When we packed up to drive back home, the car wouldn’t start. It made me scared but my dad didn’t even get mad. We just stayed another day. A free Monday with no school and my dad and my uncle drinking beer laughing and working on the car all day until they got it fixed. It was a magic place. A magic house full of kids and fun and days without school.
The memories, they filled up suitcases. I carried them with me everywhere.
When I was in third grade they were all going to come to our house. We were so excited, even my new baby sister. But when the day came they just called on the phone — they were all sick with the stomach flu so they couldn’t come. My older sister and I were so sad all weekend. Then the next year we moved away to Florida. They came to see us there. We had fun but something wasn’t the same. I don’t know what it was. That was the last time we saw them all together.
Years later I would see one or two of them, at a family reunion or a wedding. I even stayed with one a few times when I started college. I enjoyed seeing them, but it didn’t seem like the people I was talking to were grown up from those kids. Maybe I didn’t either. If they remembered the Monday with the car, they never said anything. Neither did I. Maybe it never really happened.
One of them told me they sold the house, and I was lost somehow but didn’t know why. Then I looked and realized my hands were empty, my suitcases left packed in the back of an old broken-down car on the side of the road somewhere. Or forgotten in the house, locked up tight in the attic. Ghosts.
If you asked them about the pecan tree, or the rabbit or the roller skates, they might smile and nod, but those little moments, they were like dreams. Tiny little dreams you hold in your hands, diamonds in that moment when you wake but then they slip away even as you’re remembering them, even as you’re holding onto them. Maybe that was all real once, for a little boy who isn’t little anymore. Maybe it was real. But now it’s gone. Just a smile. Just a dream.
All my life people have been walking up to me handing me vegetables. Some lettuce here, a tomato there. It’s random and annoying. I just take these idiots’ onions and stupid cucumbers and throw them over my shoulder with disgust, throw them away, and continue on my lonely impossible search for a salad.
I think of myself as an “idea guy.” Why? Because I’m certainly not the alternative: the “work really, really hard sticking with it and writing multiple drafts until it’s the best it can be” guy.
Ideas are fun. Ideas are easy. When they come, they come. When they don’t, it’s not your responsibility. And when they turn into real work, well,… that’s usually when I get my next big idea.
Just this week I woke up with a fully formed idea for a TV series. This had never happened to me before. I was psyched, completely energized. Within hours I was Read the rest of this entry »
Had a dream the other night: I found myself back in Hampton, Virginia, where I went to high school. This is 2,700 miles away from where I am today. Even in the dream I had no idea how or why I was there. I found myself moving through the old hang-outs and streets. Everything was different – and I was infuriated by this. Completely infuriated.
This woke me up, all clenched and tight. My heart was racing and I was really enraged for a few minutes. Then the bizarre nature of this reaction occurred to me. Why would I care? I haven’t stepped foot in Virginia in 23 years. I shook my head and went back to sleep.
I wonder what that was about…
I was at LAX and needed a cab. I got into a cab with a lady, so we shared it. Then I realized the lady was actually Sade, who is still smokin’ hot at age 51, and the cab was actually her town car and she and I were alone in the back seat. I was excited. Then we gradually transformed into 1986 Sade and Robb, when she was 27 and I was 17, and we were both smokin’ hot. We were both excited. Then the driver pulled up to her hotel and we got out. Her hotel room was actually a condo. Inside she disappeared somewhere so my excitement was gone. She came back and said she needed a writer. I was excited again. We alternated between 1986 and 2010 Sade and Robb. I wrote something up for her and she looked at it and told me her writer was on his way over. The door opened and it was Jay Demopoulos, a great friend of mine from my TV days. She looked at what he wrote and we had both written the exact same thing. So she hired me to join her team but she said I had to leave right now while she and Jay worked. I was excited again, plus Jay is gay so I knew I still had a shot with smokin’ hot Sade. Her driver drove me home and then I realized that I had to get packed real quick because by now I was way late. Then I realized I had been at LAX dropping off Michelle for her flight and now I had to get packed and back to LAX to meet her in Seattle for our 7-day Alaska cruise. I hadn’t started packing yet and now I couldn’t find my suitcase or any clothes. And I couldn’t call Michelle to ask where the suitcases were because she’d ask “why are you only packing now?!” when I was already an hour late for my flight and I’d have to tell her it was because I had been at Sade’s condo trying to get 1986 Sade in the sack.