A couple weeks ago I took my Goddaughter to college because college was on this coast and she had only the bus to get her from Sacramento to Chico. I have not seen this girl in 15 years, we keep up on the phone and email but we haven't had time together since our tea party at her house when she was 4.
I interrogated her about her college life and career trajectory and such. She is an RA, which, as she describes it, sounds like the last thing a college person would want to do in college. She is the den mother for a floor of girls in her dorm and she flat out loves it. And not the kind of; "I love it, but…" love. Nothing like that ever came out of her mouth as we walked the various big box stores getting her the necessary dorm room accessories. Not once. It was all positive. As an RA they pay you, and feed you and you have to be the answer person, the comforting ear, the decorator of 6 bulletin boards and the constant cruise director arranging things for your floor to do as a group. That sounded like a lot to do while you are also trying to get a degree. It was a new experience for me to see someone so young and so competent be so darn at ease with her life. She had no anxiety of this new school, new state, new floor of girls, new group of fellow RA's, and mostly; the expectations of all those girls on her new floor.
I kept offering to write her introduction speech for her with all sorts of clever braggert lines, she would chuckle and say, " I think I have a handle on my speech but thanks." You see, I've grown used to hearing people complain about being too priviledged in America. "Yeah I've been on a hit TV show for 10 years but my movie work isn't respected…", that sort of thing. Students never have enough time to enjoy their student life, actors without agents moan about getting one, actors with only a few auditions complain about getting rid of their agent so they can get more auditions, working actors complain about getting a better acting job than the one they are on…I'm used to it. I expect to hear it. I wrote my book to try to combat some of it. This time with her had me feeling like something was missing from her character. She had to be more uptight didn't she? "She just covers her anxiety well" I told myself because I wasn't easy with how easy she was through all this.
I hung my last sweater (imagine, she brought sweaters to California) getting her settled in and I left her and her mom in her dorm room and drove back to where I was staying. I used the drive to think back on the day and figure out how darn calm and confident that girl could be at 21. What came to me was a single word…
She was grateful for this school and this life and my time with her, and the RA job, all of it. It was so off-putting to be with someone who was so honestly grateful. It made me think hard on how I got here.
Why is she grateful? Now, doesn't your mind go right to; "Well give me some background, and we can figure out how she'd get that way…" And that's the point. We all give ourselves reasons why we live the way we do, especially the chosen folks who work in the biz. Aren't we the example of how good things can get in life? Don't we all strive for that exclusivity that comes with being famous? We are different because we entertain, right? It's a big responsibility. But how many of the actors that you know are really grateful to be actors? How much time do we waste complaining about what should be?
I'm so glad I had the time with my Goddaughter. She has no idea how far ahead on the fulfilment curve she is, but I do, and I'm jealous.