by C. Jeanette Tyson
If I was ever on it, I’ve now certainly fallen off the straight and
narrow. Life has become circular.
For the past two years, people from my
past have kept showing up,
and I don’t mean just in a
passing-in-the-airport way. There was my
first big love, now a
world-renowned heart surgeon, who appeared
one day in my email box. He found
me, God bless the internet, through
this column. Of course the question was
why was he looking. I imagine
you know the answer; happiness abroad
doesn’t necessarily mean happiness
at home. Two old working partners
emerged in Dallas, to become
working partners again. Another old flame
contracted me for work and
claimed to have the most unusual of sensations as
he watched me direct
his four children on a film shoot. College
acquaintances turned out to be
living around the corner. Other friendships
which had lain fallow became
rejuvenated by kids being born or marriages
Moving around a lot requires not only
keen packing skills but a knack
for letting people go. A lack of rootedness naturally leads to a lack
of expectations. Maybe you’ll meet again, maybe not. But for now, I’ve
got this rainbow to chase.
Last week, everything rose and converged yet again.
A long, long time ago, when I was young and, not only young, but
greeeeeeennnn, I moved to Santa Monica with Beth, a woman I knew from
my very first job out of college. In fact, she’d orchestrated the move.
We were living together in Atlanta. I came home from a weekend away and
she said, “We’re moving to LA. I’ve got you a job.”
It was a most bizarre year and not particularly pleasant. Yes, it was
amazing to ride my bike along the Pacific Ocean for miles and miles.
Yes, it was hysterical when Beth used this guy’s cell phone—then still
a new and expensive phenomenon—to call her mom and tell her we were
riding in a convertible through Beverly Hills. Yes, we had a lot of
fun. But the job was not as billed. We both went back east, but not to
the same town, and eventually we fell out of touch.
Until I found out she’d moved to Austin. (I guess the other side to the
story is the incredible pull of Austin itself.)
So twenty-three years later, we found ourselves working together again.
It took maybe 8.2 seconds to fall right back into the friendship
groove, though now we connected over children and houses, men and
bringing home the bacon while handling all those other things.
The project we were working on culminated last week in an overnight
trip to LA. At this point I should add that the other woman on our team
was Lesley, a great friend and colleague from sixteen years, another
lifetime, ago in San Francisco.
Since we’re in LA now, I’ll go native and start dropping names. First,
we had a music session. John Mayer was down the hall writing, when
Jessica Alba wasn’t bothering him. The Smashing Pumpkins were
Then we had our meeting at Dreamworks and ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the
animators’ work, the campus, the sheer amount of time and effort it
takes to create one of these movies. I have a new appreciation for
Then we drove past our old apartment. It was at 11th and Pico in Santa
Monica, an incongruous brown building we’d called the Ski Lodge. It was
for sale. We took guesses on the price: three million, four? Beth
recalled the night she nearly broiled the kitten—inadvertently, of
course. Lesley checked her watch while Beth and I zoomed down memory
For dinner that night we went to Voda. It’s a dark, cavernous place
with stone walls, brown carpet and deep booths. Candles flicker around
the edges. You don’t go there to be seen, you go for the vodka. There
are more than a hundred different kinds from around the world.
Beth talked me into ordering The Diamond: Fris vodka, cranberry,
pineapple and peach schnapps. I haven’t had schnapps since, oh, the
last time we worked together. It was brilliantly cold and insanely
We skipped over the caviar and started with New Orleans style barbecue
shrimp and ahi tuna tartare. The entrée menu is a bit scattered;
everything from steak and chicken to halibut, salmon, and pizza. Dinner
was fine, though not insanely delicious. I adjust my standards for
geography and that close to the Pacific, they are very high.
And just then, Ron walked in. Ron, Lesley and I had all worked closely
together in San Francisco. He’s still there but commuting to LA to try
to make inroads into the Hollywood scene.
He ordered a different vodka for me, straight up this time, but two
sips into it I realized I was bumping up against that time zone change
like a brick wall and let him finish it.
There, in the dark, was one past, another past and the present. We
looked good (in the dark). We laughed easily.
Voda means water in Russian. And indeed, all the things we’d done
together and the dreams we chased then all flowed together, while the
details of the things done in the meantime swirled in the eddies. We
wade into the river, we step out, we jump back in and the connections
are still there.
Everything is everything and because we’re lucky in this life, we come
together now and then and drink to it.
C. Jeanette Tyson is a freelance writer and mom to Jackson and Maddy.
Her award-winning advertising and branding work can be found at
is at 1449 2nd Street in Santa Monica. 310.394.9774.