Hollywood movie stars are larger than life in our culture and sighting one can be as if a dream archetype has bled through into everyday life. We wake up from such a dream encounter and want to report, ‘I just saw a giant, a unicorn, or maybe Drew Barrymore.’ Yes, it’s true, and it was completely close-up and unexpected.
We drove from our hostel in Santa Monica to Hollywood Hills to fulfill my fantasy of visiting my longtime, dear blog friend Naomi Caryl. Naomi is a free thinker and an artist who has worked throughout her life as a nightclub singer, a stage and TV actor, a playwright and composer.
On a tip from one of Naomi’s past blog posts, we decided to eat lunch at the Musso and Frank Grill, one the oldest restaurants in Hollywood, before heading up the hill. Known to be frequented by “ the locals,” the restaurant is old school charming with traditional maitre’d and waiters. We felt like we had stepped into the past where Hollywood notables hobnobbed in booths. It was pricey, so we ordered omelets and I headed for the bathroom to freshen up, which is where I found myself within three feet of Drew Barrymore. She was washing her hands at the sink. I was waiting for a stall when I saw her clearly through the bathroom mirror. We looked right at each other and I could tell she could tell she had been spotted. “I think I’ve seen you before,” I said tongue-in-cheek. She played along, “Oh, have you?” It all happened so fast, and I would have felt dumb about my comment if she hadn’t have added “have a nice day” as she left.
On the way up the hill, we stopped at a wishing tree, a kind of social art that some unknown artist had erected. It sparkled with sequins in the afternoon sun and the paper wishes waved in the breeze from the decorated branches where they hung. Joe and I each tied a personal wish on a branch (and one for Naomi who has been having a challenging year losing loved ones and experiencing some health set-backs). Before leaving we read others’ wishes for good health, environmental justice and for Obama to be re-elected in 2012.
Visiting Naomi and hearing her stories of working in the business gave some personal context to life in Hollywood. But it was the personal connections we shared about life and family that proved to be the most meaningful to me. Living in Hollywood in the 60’s Naomi participated in cutting edge new forms of psychoanalytical therapies, such as primal therapy and group therapy, which Joe (as a counselor) and I found so interesting to hear about.
I felt delighted to be like one of Naomi’s “Ladies who Lunch” (which she often posts about), as we enjoyed tea and desserts. While peering over her deck onto a panoramic view of LA, I realized how uneasy I am of heights. It was such a treat to experience her art-filled home come to life after seeing it online for so many years.
Before we left she gifted us with a CD of the Theater West production of Spoon River Anthology, which played in LA and on Broadway and in which Naomi had written and performed songs for. We smiled and felt blessed as we listened to her beautiful voice on the ride up Mulholland Drive to see the sunset and LA lit-up at night. The view was like something out of the movies.