Sawyer was the first and only child born to Jared and Sarah McDermid. Jared had just barely gotten off the ground as a doctor, and while the addition of a child so early in his career may have proved a hindrance, there was no doubt that from the minute she was born Sawyer was one of those children who was deeply and utterly wanted. Whenever asked about her early years, Jared could happily talk at length about the happy little girl who at the age of two would beg her parents to put on their records, and dance around their house. It may not have been the most refined thing they had ever seen,, but even then her level of talent was undeniable. This was the Sawyer he liked to remember - The years which followed this didn't provide many happy memories.
Sawyer's parents were just planning on having another child when Sarah got sick. There had been a short, wonderful space of time when they could still hope that the changes she felt might have been down to pregnancy. It became clear pretty quickly that things weren't nearly that simple. This would be something that Jared would hold against himself for years to come - He was a doctor, it was his job, he should have been able to see she was getting sick, he should have been able to fix her. His daughter may have had a chance to really know her mother if he had acted quickly enough.
Sarah McDermid died on March 11th 1923, less than a month before her daughter's fourth birthday. Sawyer didn't remember much from that time - she did remember her mother asking her to dance for her a lot in the weeks before she died, when even standing proved too difficult. Sarah had been a dancer for a time, and really just needed to see that there was something of her in her child before she passed on. Looking back, Sawyer probably needed to prove that to her as well. It wasn't until after the funeral that she truly managed to cry, when it was just her and her father alone in their big house and she finally understood that Mom wasn't going to come home.
She started taking dance lessons about a year after her mother's death. It had mostly been Jared's idea. He was an involved parent, he had to be, but he was not totally equipped to deal with a child who had endured that level of emotional trauma that early. He figured the best thing for her would be to have an outlet, to have something to focus on that could both distract her and let her feel closer to her mother. Having something to remind him of Sarah couldn't hurt either.
Sawyer thrived in those classes. The raw talent she displayed in her early years as she danced around her sitting room came out in full force. She started in ballet, but as she became more focused on her developing her skills she spread out further, even beginning to take singing lessons. It did amazing things for her self esteem - it was difficult being the girl without a mother, and being able to excel at something she loved to such a massive scale was wonderful. She loved when her father came to watch her dance, when she could see how proud he was to know that she was following in her mother's footsteps. She knew that this was all she wanted to do.
Her mother had left some money that was to be given to Sawyer once she reached eighteen and by her calculations that was nearly enough to get her to Hollywood and support her for a few months while she found her feet. She did all she could to get whatever extra she needed, even began acting in small independent plays for a few dollars a night, just to get the funds together. It was while doing all of this that she really began to believe that she was good. That she might actually get somewhere.
Her father wasn't thrilled to hear about her plans. She was a clever girl, and could get into any college she wanted if she put her mind to it. More to the point, she was his little girl, and the only child he was ever going to get. The thought of just being separated from her was enough to drive him crazy, but that coupled with worrying about her safety was awful. He knew how some of those 'agents' operated, and what they could want in return for taking on a client. The argument proved futile - In the end Sawyer was always going to do whatever she set her mind to with or without his permission. All he could do was give her what she needed to be safe.
Sawyer left for Hollywood one week after her eighteenth birthday. She had been arguing with her father in the days leading up to her departure over her refusal to accept any extra money from him to support herself, but they had just about managed to put all of that behind them, at least on the surface. They would be separated by an entire country for the foreseeable future, they should at least be on good terms.
He drove her to the station on the day she left, and sent her off with a packed lunch and a hug. They both seemed calm enough as she left, but she remembered how he squeezed her so tight that it almost hurt. She buried her face into his shoulder, and breathed in that smell that was so undeniably Dad's for one last time before breaking apart and boarding. She remembered watching his face as her train departed for Hollywood, and seeing the tears he had tried so hard to hide. Only at that moment did she realise how difficult he must have found all of this.
She got herself set up with a hotel room and an agent soon after she had reached her destination. Farley Wink may not have been exactly what she was looking for, but at the very least he seemed to get some business, however small the parts may be. And that was where she managed to make her first friends in Hollywood, the most important of whom had to be Tillie. She may have only been a few years Sawyer's senior, but was undoubtedly a mother at heart. She took care of her in her first few months, and together with the others they even managed to get some roles in the cities underground theater scene. That was the only point in those first few years when life was truly good.
It didn't take long for Sawyer to be forced to face the uglier side of Hollywood. A bad relationship and even worse auditions had managed to destroy whatever romantic view she may have once had of the city. She watched as she was passed up for part after part, as less talented performers got the parts. It didn't take long for her to realise that they all seemed to be human. Her money began to run low, and she realised she needed a better source of income. She was forced to turn to Farley Wink.
It turned out Farley was more than happy to take her on as a secretary. She could type eighty words a minute and was pretty enough to stop any male clients from leaving, which was more than he could have asked for. The money was good, but life got worse. She began to realise that none of the clients ever got any big parts. They were lucky to get anything at all. It was here that it dawned on her that there would probably never be any parts for her.
She probably should have just gone home. It wasn't like there was much left for her here anyway, but she knew that she couldn't face it. She didn't want to go home and admit that she had wasted everything her mother had given her. That she had failed. And she did have friends in Hollywood, good ones too. She couldn't bring herself to just leave behind Tillie or Woolie, or even Cranston forever. It wasn't even a terrible life - She had a nice house, Sundays off and could afford to live in relative comfort. Almost none of her unmarried friends from back home were so lucky. That's what she told herself at least - it didn't provide her with as much comfort as she had hoped.
Everything might have been better if she had just stayed at home.