I am about to embark on an adventure, one which will stand out amongst the greatest adventures in my life. I’m about to do something completely impulsive, thoroughly irresponsible, possibly detrimental (to my bank account at least), and irrevocably life changing. Whatever happens, I will come back a changed woman. I am about to leave for Europe… Indefinitely. I am doing what I have never let myself do before: something reckless.
How scandalous it makes me feel! I’m the girl who thinks twenty years ahead of almost every big decision she makes! I usually talk myself out of amazing opportunities to avoid setting my career back, hurting others, or I’m just being plain chicken. I think about things too much, hardly ever taking risks. This will be a huge risk. It is the most inopportune time for me to take a vacation. I haven’t worked in almost a year, my savings have been slowly draining, and I should stay in LA to audition for the summer in hopes of getting on a new show or film. But you know what? I just don’t want to. With each audition, my heart has been sinking a little lower. I have nothing left to give my characters, no spark or passion or uniqueness. Don’t I like acting? Yes, when I’m acting, working on a real job. But there is nothing that sucks my soul quite like the audition process does. I have been sucked dry, like one of the many vampire victims I seem to go out for lately. (Who are all you vampire fans that keep fueling this obnoxiously inescapable category?)
I have always admired and envied the people I meet who have followed their dream of traveling the world. The people who gave up the security of their jobs, said goodbye to their families and friends, left life as they knew it behind, and found themselves on the trip of a lifetime. I’ve always wanted to be one of the fascinating storytellers who describe what it’s like to be lost in Thailand, broke in Paris, seduced in Buenos Aires, and inspired in the cathedrals of Rome. I want to be Elizabeth Gilbert of “Eat, Pray, Love”, Chris McCandless of “Into the Wild”. I want to have memories that will make me smile into my 90’s, tales that will make my children gape at me with surprise and respect. I want to be one of those ballsy, bohemian, free-spirited wanderers. Now is the time! I’m doing it! No more wishing, envying, or excuse-making!
Before anyone freaks out, I will assure the worried that no, I am not going by myself. While I’d like to say I’m an independent traveler, the truth is I’ve just heard one too many horror stories of girls getting raped in Paris’ broad daylight and abducted from the sidewalks of Prague to be sold into sex trafficking. I don’t know anyone in Europe to make a home base with, or even to crash with for a week or two. Hostels creep me out, hotels are far too unaffordable for more than a weekend splurge, and as far as backpacking goes… I hate to admit it, but I am just too frail. The backpack would weigh as much as I do, and I’d have to take the (in)famous Eurorail which would involve conversing with sleazy guys, and I’d probably have to spend some nights in a city park when there are no vacancies, which just sounds sketchy. If only I were Jason Bourne. Or just male.
I found the perfect solution to meet all my foreseeable needs: renting a mobile home. An RV, Westfalia, camper, hippie van, any of these will apply. I will have transportation at my whim and leisure, and a place to sleep every night. It might not be as cheap as hostelling and Eurorailing, but it’s less expensive than airfare and staying in hotels, and a lot more private. While I don’t mind being warmly courteous to strangers, I am very introverted, lacking the outgoing personality that makes an adventure like this one filled with new drinking buddies, crash pads, and shared dorm showers. A mobile home gives me privacy and independence, two things I value most in life in general. I wish I could be so laid back as to not care where I sleep, so foolish as to suddenly find myself at an amazing yacht party, so durable as to do manual labor on a vineyard if I run out of money. But I’m not any of those things, I know and have accepted myself too well. A mobile home sounds to me like the perfect combination of security, freedom, and adventure.
Who is my traveling companion? A very good male friend of mine, prompting many a nudge and a wink from just about everyone we’ve told. “Your ‘companion’, eh? Europe’s a very romantic place…” We just laugh. So far. Anyway, like I said, I wouldn’t do this trip alone, or even with another female (unless she was Hit-Girl from “Kick Ass”). Two young American women vagabonding through Europe? Way too much attention. Some might, but not me. Only a male would do. Coincidentally, the friend going with me is at the same place in his life that I am, in terms of LA sucking his soul dry. We both need to reboot, regenerate, recharge, reinspire, retreat, re-a-lot-of-things. Our leases ran up at the same time, and it’s the first summer in three years either of us has had where we weren’t tied down to a TV contract. Our first idea was to build a boat and sail around the world, but since neither of us knows how to build or sail, that one was off. Mobile homing through Europe sounded just the ticket, so we committed, crossing our fingers that neither of us would get an acting gig that would ruin the whole plan. So far so good (or bad?), as neither of us has booked a job, although there’s still two weeks left.
While I will miss my friends here in LA, and my family who will seem even further away, I plan on keeping in touch through email, Facebook, this blog, and possibly a video blog. If you want to play voyeur and live vicariously through me (because you know you’re jealous), this is the place where I’ll be updating any who care to read about my travels. The reluctant-but-wising business person in me is trying to think of a way I can use this trip as a tax write off. If I ever publish a book about it, or get my own travel documentary show because of it, I’ll be glad I saved the receipts. But the main goal is to HAVE FUN. Leave Hollywood behind, read no scripts, memorize no lines, drive nowhere but where I want, and wear make up only if I feel like it. My hair will be freshly Brazilian blow-dried for low maintenance, my wardrobe consisting of sundresses, bikinis, and flip-flops.
I don’t know when I’ll come back. Possibly mid-July, maybe September. I don’t want to pressure myself to rush. I’ve considered taking up the opportunity to model in Paris, and I’m open to whatever other adventures this one may bring, but I don’t want to return to LA until I really want to, when I am fully recharged and actually dying for an audition. Hard to imagine I could die for an audition, but who knows. Hopefully my agents and manager will still represent me after this impulsive and very long hiatus. Hopefully my beloved cat Butters won’t forget about me, or begrudge me for leaving him with my family in Colorado. Hopefully I’ll book something within the first week of my return, or will have made enough money in Europe somehow to tide me over for a nice chunk. Whatever happens at the end of this, I know I won’t regret it.
I recently read a quote that it’s not the things we did that we regret most at the end of our lives; it’s the things we didn’t do. This trip would be one of those things. I have nothing holding me back right now, no job, no relationship, no kids, no debt, no fear, no mortgage or lease… What I do have is my youth, health, passion, and the time. When will the stars all line up for me like this again? Carpe diem!