The passenger

The day I got the job driving for BLS limousine service in Los Angeles, years ago, a letter arrived in the mail stating that my drivers license had been revoked. Naturally, I would not let this be a deterrent. It would be my little secret. I would have an air of mystery surrounding me when I went to pick up clients, like Cleopatra, or Mona Lisa. An air of danger. No one would know they were on the brink of not catching their flight for the first day of shooting, or missing their crucial Warner Bros meeting; for the smallest traffic infraction would call attention to my suspension and we would all have to exit the vehicle and find our own ride home.

For a long time I thought we lived “in” the world and not “on” it. Strange as it seems, I was 30 years old when I discovered that the earth is actually composed of dirt, lava, jewels, iron, nickel. And that we live on top of it, not inside.  This changed things for me, in the way that people in the Middle Ages were changed when Copernicus discovered the world revolves around the sun. I realized that the secret to anything growing was to ground it, and that would make it real. I envisioned my feet actually walking on soil. The seeds I planted began to take.  I simultaneously discovered a line by Goethe that confirmed my suspicions. He states, “Reality must give the motive, the points to be expressed- the kernel; but to work out of it a beautiful animated whole, belongs to the poet.” I was even able to articulate this concept to others, which was a far cry from my usual half formed sentences that petered out into oblivion.

We all want to know how things are going to shake out in the end, a glimpse into the future.  For example, let’s take Isis. Maybe these terrorist extremists are no more than an exaggerated version of that “not knowing what’s going to happen next” feeling and that’s hard to sit with.  It’s comforting to believe God has the storyline all planned out for us,   even if it does end in a fiery apocalypse. Jihad means “to suffer.” Maybe they’re just afraid to be happy. Talk about terror,  that’s a big one. And in terms of God, energy, whatever that means to you, it must be easier to have it all spelled out. You can just follow directions; like putting a fan together as opposed to being led, listening for signs, cues, the subtle fluctuations of magnetic fields, molecules separating and fusing, whispering to make a right turn here, a left turn there.  Birds have an inner magnetic compass that involves their beaks, inner ears, and eyes. They contain tiny grains of iron, just like the iron found at the inner core of the earth. This helps them to sense magnetic fields.

A long time ago I had a dream.  I was told I would be given the key to silver lake and the secret to death. I was shown a winding road with a purple and green house side by side.  That was it. 3 years later I had a similar textured dream that felt like part 2.  In the dream, a certain eccentric actor I had known briefly, in real life, for like a nanosecond, appeared in the dream and our eyes went into each other. Do our eyes, like birds, also have magnetic shavings of iron? I wonder. It feels like they do.  I woke from the dream absolutely certain I would be led that day to this actors home, although I hadn’t seen him in years and had no idea where he lived now. I was driving during this time, for the Los Angeles BLS limousine service, and suddenly I knew why. I would be “driven” instead of doing the driving. I would be taken to his home by forces outside myself. I simply had to interact with these forces and listen. As I drove to work that morning, my car broke down. I was ecstatic. I knew it was all part of the plan and was meant to change my timing. I arrived at work two hours late and was given an entirely different set of clients. While waiting for my next address I heard a few drivers laughing, in the lobby. One said “so I pick up William Shatner to take him to his wife’s funeral. She was found dead, having drowned in their pool a few days before. So he gets in the backseat, and hands me her urn filled with her ashes and says “She always wanted to sit up front. Here’s her chance.” They burst out laughing right as I am given my next clients information. I am to pick him up at the airport immediately, which I do. When I arrive, the client tells me there has been a change of plans and we are going to his home in Silverlake. As we approach his neighborhood, we begin to drive up a steep hill and then it hits me. I suddenly noticed the purple and green homes I had dreamed of a few years earlier. “The secret to death and the key to Silverlake” I say out loud.  “Excuse me?” he says. “Oh I had dreamed about this road we’re going on, a few years ago.” As we progress up the hill, things start to change and take on an almost animated version of reality. The leaves begin to fall in slow motion and things look brighter. We stopped at the top of the hill and the man said “It’s this house right here.” I repeated “This house right here.” He let out an exasperated sigh and said “No, this house next-door.” But I knew which house he meant. I dropped him off and watched, as he shook his head and rolled his suitcase to the house next-door. He didn’t tip. I sat in my car, debating whether to knock on this actors door, for this was obviously his home. It glowed.  I would explain that our eyes went into each other in a dream the night before, and I just wanted to say hi. And then suddenly a call came in from the dispatcher. I was to pick up Mackenzie Phillips in the valley and to step on it. This was before her story broke about having sex with her dad, the famous singer of The Mamas and Papas. California Dreaming would never sound the same again.  Our meeting was fascinating due to her beautiful vulnerability. She told me to call her “Mack.” I never went to his house. It was enough just to know.

10 years later a friend of mine was putting together an art show I was in. She said it would be amazing to invite this particular actor. I said “Oh, I know where he lives. You can drop off an invitation at his house.” So we drove there.   I told her I’d wait in the car. She got out and walked up the driveway, disappearing behind the shrubbery. And then it hit me. I was completely insane, as in certifiable. I had never received any proof that  this was his home and now it was being tested by the scientific method. Of course this wasn’t his home. I was terrified and started to sweat. Everything I knew to be true would be invalidated now, and I had no Plan B. My friend reappeared and opened the car door. She was silently somber, an ominous sign. I said “Oh..umm..what happened?” She said “Oh, this girl answered.”  My heart plummeted. She added, “She said he was out of town but she’ll give it to him.” I said “You mean he actually lives here?”  “Of course he does,” she said. “I thought you knew that.” I said “Well yeah, sure I did, it was just never really confirmed.”

And so, I was in fact, given the symbolic key to Silverlake that day. The secret to death, which is the indestructibility of the soul, not confined by space and time as we might imagine it to be. A much better feeling I imagine, than being given 72 raisins after a terrorist suicide, thinking it would be virgins. After all that beheading and it still wouldn’t come out the way they planned it. That has to be rough. But knowing is different than believing. And even when you know, it’s still hard to listen. The actor was Crispin Glover.

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