"Perhaps love is like a resting place, A shelter from the storm, It exists to give you comfort, It is there to keep you warm, And in those times of trouble, When you are most alone, The memory of love will bring you home…"
"Perhaps Love" John Denver, American Singer/Songwriter
As a writer, my biggest challenge and primary goal when revealing a character's personality, their essence, what makes them tick, well-their character, is to show, not tell. It's easy to write "Rich was a lying, cheating bastard," but that doesn't convey to the reader or audience what level of slimy cretin Rich has the capacity of behaving in as "Shaun approached the bedroom door—the dread of what he knew he would discover settled at the bottom of his stomach, an anchor dragging him back as he reached for the handle. The grunts and moans that his ears were already uneasily detecting didn't prepare him to see his boyfriend of two and a half years participating in a three-way with his best friend and their neighbor." When I talk, I prefer the succinctness and lack of details and awkward explanations of what telling, rather than showing, affords me. So when I had to give my agent a reason why I was picking up my life and moving, taking a break for a while to lick my wounds, and therefore missing deadlines I had set for both the scripts I was working on and my book, I chose those six words instead of "painting a picture" with my words. Luckily, my agent was never fond of Rich and didn't ask questions I didn't want to answer.
Now, what to do with myself during this reprieve? My plans to go to Barcelona in a couple months will have to be put on hold. My bank account wasn't expecting to have to take on a deposit, new lease and utilities that I was used to paying half of. Not to mention the furniture, house-ware, and more that picking up and leaving with little more than a longboard and three suitcases'-worth of your life costs.
First things first: find a place to live. Luckily my agent's wife is in real estate and set me up with a great rental-finder. I only had to tour a few places before viewing the cutest duplex in North Hollywood. Both homes have availability within a month or two and are adorable and historic and absolutely unlike the sleek and modern condo I'd shared with Rich. One has two bedrooms with a small patio shaded by the orange trees surrounding the entire duplex. It is well within my new single-income budget and the second bedroom will work nicely as my office. The second has three bedrooms with a huge attached garage and is slightly more than I'd necessarily want to spend, but the guaranteed spot for my car would be a definite bonus. It has a small yard and the owner of the duplex is probably one of the nicest people I've met since coming to LA. Her name is Susan and she took to me instantly insisting I remind her of her "gay nephew Travis." That automatic kinship she felt gets me first dibs on which house I want so after much debate I choose the two-bedroom home because I can get into it a few weeks sooner, but Susan insists that if I change my mind before she finds another tenant to give her a call and the three-bedroom is mine.
Though the third bedroom would be great for when my brother Gabe comes to visit, he rarely does and will be just fine on the couch I still need to purchase. He's no longer allowed to use my office as guest room after the last time he and his friends visited. The incessant partying and club-hopping I totally understood—I remember being newly 21 as it was only nine years ago, but he also has a tendency of going through my notebooks and the files on my laptop and finding things he shouldn't. He ended up reading some dialog I was working on for a script for a romantic comedy, using the lines on some drunk chick at the bar (they worked!), and narrowly avoided losing some teeth when her boyfriend didn't appreciate his attention or her enthusiastic reaction! Baby brother also didn't deal well when he found the homoerotic storylines in a book I was working on a few years ago. You would think he would have learned his lesson and stopped snooping but Gabe's not exactly the most couth person I know. Being naturally curious bordering on annoyingly-inquisitive-about-things-that-are-none-of-his-business combined with his "younger brother" outlook makes Gabe a super-sleuth when it comes to digging up stuff on his adored big bro. I make a mental note to get a couch that's uncomfortable for overnight guests to make up for what I'm sure will be more privacy intrusions next time he comes to visit from Santa Barbara.
That's not to say he's not equally adored. I love Gabe—would love him even if we weren't related. His nosiness aside, he's got a great heart and the eight year difference in our ages gave me the chance to help my mom raise him when I was a teenager. He hardly remembers our father who passed away when he was four. I was 12 at the time and took on a lot of responsibility as the "man of the house." We lived in a tiny house in San Pedro then, and continued to live there until my mom married Larry when I was about 17. Larry, our step-father, swept Mom off her very tired, exhausted, single-parent feet and moved us to a mansion in the nice part of Long Beach then. Those early years of struggle for my parents and then helping around the house at an early age definitely shaped my responsible and introspective personality in the same way that our new affluent lifestyle during his formative years brought out Gabe's more outgoing and wild self.
I sometimes wonder if our dissimilar character traits would be so pronounced if our upbringing was the same as is the case with most siblings. Though Larry's not my favorite person, I don't begrudge my mom the easier lifestyle that marrying him afforded her, and in turn, us. And for as different as Gabe and I are, we share several common interests, though my influence on him as the big brother probably inspired his love of surfing; I taught him how to hang ten when he was eight years old, and our increased allowance definitely helped keep us and our friends in boards and wetsuits. I guess I haven't been in such dire financial circumstances as I currently am since before Larry came into our lives, so that's another thing to thank randy Rich for, the asshole.
All these thoughts of Gabe and our youth and surfing help me figure out what to do until my new place is ready. I'll go home—well, home to the beach house on Ocean Drive in Long Beach. Though I wouldn't call it my "home" to anyone else, the sun, the sand, the shore have always felt like where I'm from and where I belong. I've spent too much time in LA lately without hitting the beach and I can definitely feel its call. Gabe had just left there, heading back to his current base of Santa Barbara where he's going to school, and Mom and Larry are traveling the globe for four more months so I'll have the place to myself. Solitude, a place to work where no one would bug me or even think to find me, for a few weeks at least, sounds like heaven. Luckily my Subaru is already packed from leaving Rich so it's only a 40 minute drive to sanctuary.