Meeting Marilyn

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The SS Harold parked in her long-term home at The Balboa RV Park - Los Angeles, CA.


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As I write this, it is my third day waking up in a new bed, in a new house, in a new state.  I guess, for accuracy’s sake, I should say seventh such morning - the first four, however, were on the road from Minnesota to get here - and they seem markedly different.  Those mornings were in transition.  This is home now.  We’ve arrived.


A full and complete evaluation of where we’ve landed is impossible as it’s still unfolding, but after months spent wondering what we’d find when we arrived - every little reveal is exciting.


First, of course, was the RV Park itself.  The new neighborhood. 

{Photo: Oct.17th - Tucamcari, NM. KOA off of Hwy 40}

The Balboa RV Park boasts being ‘LA’s Largest RV Park’.  As Melby and I are both Camper novices, our only ability to give a comparative review of this place is against the few KOA’s and RV Parks we occupied on the way here; and - of course - marinas.  


We’ve both been struck by how similar RV Parks are to marinas.  Some likenesses are obvious - they host transient homes, one on highways, one on water.  Both offer temporary and long-term parking to vessels that run a gamut from mega-luxury to border-line poverty.  In hand with the technical and circumstantial similarities, they share an absurd culture… and thank god.  


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Steve, the primary manager of Balboa, was so immediately friendly and welcoming, that it felt as if he’d stepped off any dock on the Mississippi River.  He has a firm handshake and a handsome face that betrays years spent smiling.  Big, genuine smiles that demand one back.


Although we’d been in communication with Steve for weeks, our exact parking spot in the park couldn’t be determined until we arrived.  With much of the park being occupied on a nightly or weekly basis - it is a mystery and puzzle what space will be available when.  We could move around within the park if a place didn’t suit us, but once some people settle - they can stay indefinitely.  


He asked us a few questions about animals and privacy and then said ‘Why don’t I just take you to the spot I think you’ll like best and then you tell me what’s-what.’  


Steve and Melby towed the camper while I parked the car.  When I joined them and saw the spot, my heart sank.  It was in a corner - which was great - but along our whole left side (starboard, forgive me) was a tall, cinderblock, brick wall.  A brick wall.


‘What do ya’ think?’ asked Steve’s infectious smile; standing next to Melby’s victorious one. 

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My brain screamed I hate it!  I hate the wall!  I hate you!  


But.  No.  My brain was not presently allowed to scream anything with the use of my mouth because my brain was busy processing:  closing night of a heart-filling play, a going-away-party to beat the band, two days of packing and cleaning, followed by FIVE DAYS of cross-country life-hauling WITH PMS…


Gratefully only a half-second of silence preceded my returned smile and an as-exuberant-as-I-could muster, ‘Look at that wall!  It’s great!’  Then, like lightning - ‘I’m gonna take Dottie for a walk.’


She and I both appreciated being OUT of the car and so we breathed deep, walked slow, and took it in.  Balboa is remarkably green and clean and quiet.  Enclosed with a secure entrance (dare I say ‘gated community’) It has one long, wide road down the middle with about 15 side streets - each about half a block long with about 15 RV spots.  The trees are all old and tall and give lots of shade and at every corner there was a delicious smell, or friendly wave, or a lounging dog.  And at the end of one road - a three-story tall, green and grinning mural of Marilyn Monroe. 


For me, at the end of a long journey, considering the meaning of big words like ‘Home’ and holding none-other-than Dorothy’s hand - Maryilyn’s face was at once the Wizard himself.  The Wizard as incarnate as Hollywood could make him to a road-weary aspiring actress adrift.  


‘Hiya, Marilyn.’

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Her laugh…  Her eyes.  Her earrings!  I spent some long moments with her and then suddenly and immediately learned three important things, and the first was: walls ain’t so bad.


By the time I returned to the SS Harold, my attitude had shifted completely.  Not only are walls not so bad - this wall we had was awesome!  For one thing, it’s covered in vines and gives us both privacy and shade.  If we put some wood chips along the base of it, some tall plants, a bean-bag toss game, grill and some purty lights - this goddamn wall might just blow your mind! 


Melby, since we’ve been here - since he landed in Minnesota two weeks ago, really - hasn’t had a chance to rest.  He was shooting first thing in the morning after we arrived and picked up a shift on his one day off to compensate for our little tire mishap in Kansas City.  I, on the other hand, have been living out some very hetero-normative/trailer-park stereotypes.  


For example, yesterday I woke up and did the dishes before haulin’ the laundry to the ‘mat in my flip-flops.  I had the pleasure of speaking with the LA department of water and power; and Time Warner; and the US Postal Service - our nation’s finest.  


All the while, I exercised Marilyn’s second important lesson:  Wear earrings.  They just look nice.  


But that wasn’t the last thing of which Marilyn’s endless green-haze-giggle informed me.


I am an actress.  In Hollywood.  I can use disclaimer language, truncate the rhetoric, focus on the minutia, and be harshly realistic, but the fact remains - I am an actress who is trying to ‘make it’ - whatever your definition - in Hollywood and this is a well-worn path I’m on.  The horror stories, the hero stories, the dead-end stories, the pending stories.  It’s an iconic place, legendary, and also - suddenly - my day-to-day.  It’s where many of the definitive personalities and artists of our culture live, work and play - have lived, worked and played for decades.  It’s also where I now buy cat litter and tampons.  

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The very Ralph’s where Dawn Brodey buys her cat litter and tampons.  

Already, some of my star-struck mid-west wonder has eased a little.  I’m now only half-convinced that every car is being driven by Harrison Ford (who lives in Wyoming), or Hunter S. Thompson (who has been dead for 9 years).  I’ve also gotten to the business of show business - submitting myself for every damn thing I can (including the role of Abigail Adams - we both have high foreheads) and actively seeking representation… All of which is hard and dumb and scary and humbling.  


And, as it turns out, the whole idea.  It’s why we’re here.  The only thing we knew for sure coming out was that we had each others’ back, and it was going to be really hard.  And really fun.  And many more things we don’t even know about yet…


But, hey, if all I learn while I’m here is to wear earrings at Ralph’s - I’m already ahead.  


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