It was Fall 2006. I was living with my elderly parents in Century City. Why? You ask. There are so many endless reasons I could go on and on, but the short answer is: life sometimes places us in hard situations.
When I lived with them, I was sad most of the time. My self-esteem had totally escaped me - this from a woman who teaches empowerment - and I, too, felt as if I was slowly dying inside.
One day after living there for two years - and sleeping on a fold-out couch - I knew I had to do something. Anything to bring me back into my body. "How about if I take an acting class?" I said to myself. That will help with my confidence level, I thought.
So, where did I go - but, of course - to trusty Craigslist (well, it really isn't so trusty anymore - but that is a whole other post) and I put in "acting class" in the LA search bar. Wow. Did I have choices.
One class leapt out at me. It was an improvisation class in Los Feliz. The hours were good and the price great. Only $15 a class, and maybe, I could be a clown or something. Forget about performing Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf - I'm a writer, not Elizabeth Taylor, and I needed to have some fun and EMOTE.
That afternoon, I drove to Los Feliz. I met my teacher David, who was still in college and wore white socks and wanted "cash" up front, and then I met my fellow students. One really pretty young woman caught my attention. She had a great laugh and smile and I decided I would sit next to her. She felt safe and fun.
And, I was losing my desire to perform by the second. I mean it is scary!
David had us do all these exercises. Throw balls across the room (to loosen up), make funny sounds with our mouth, jump up and down, then he gave us story lines for potential skits and with an improv partner or sometimes not, we had to do our thing.
For my first improv, I picked the young woman with the great smile and laugh to be my partner - turns out her name was Suilma. And Suilma was good. I on the other hand (even after many classes later) was told by David, that "I was too much in my head." "I needed to let it flow, loosen up, and 'feel it, Nancy, feel it."
David was an ass....Suilma became my friend.
She laughed at all my silly improvs and clapped when there was dead silence in the room after my performance. It was Suilma, not David, who helped build my confidence level.
During one class, she told me about her boyfriend Nathan. That he was an art curator and he ran his own gallery called The Hive. "Like in bees I asked?" She said, "Sort of, but it's in downtown on Spring Street, and you've got to come for the art walk. It's very cool. Lots of people attend."
Art walk? What was she talking about? I hadn't been to downtown, except to go to the fashion district DURING THE DAY, and there was no way I was driving there at night. But, she urged me to go. So I went.
I called her every fifteen minutes, after I left my house. Finally, I arrived, found a parking space on Spring Street - a street I'd never been too, and walked into The HIve to a world I'd never been too.
Artists were everywhere. There was laughter. Eccentrics mulling around. Boos flowing. Ebullient, very tall Nathan was the master of his own ceremony. And I was immediately enchanted. I LOVED IT.
I had walked into downtown-nirvana-land. Into a place I knew nothing about. And I resonated with it. At the time, I had no idea I would move downtown almost three years later. But, that night the seed was planted, the start.
So the moral of this tale - for all of you wanting a moral to this tale: if you take an acting class in Los Feliz you could end up living in a loft in downtown.
Let the applause begin.