In Los Angeles, there are plenty of things to do when you feel anxious that your life is going nowhere and you don’t know where to turn. You can drink crappy wine out of a sippy cup while curled up in your bed watching “Scandal” via Netflix on your smartphone; you can sit on your coffee table and stare at your front door for hours while you talk yourself in and out of what to do and where to go should you decide to put your hand on the door knob and make it do something, or…you can go to the beach.
I live in the Valley which is about forty-five minutes from Venice Beach -- without traffic. It took some effort to get myself in my car and drive to what many people pay several hundred dollars in vacation money to experience.
As I walked through the bronzed sand towards the pier, the sun smiled a warm, ”Welcome!” and a gentle breeze hugged me as if to say, “We’ve missed you.” I took off my hoody and allowed them to usher me in and make myself comfortable.
I found myself at the end of the pier where I leaned against the metal railing more for comfort than safety, and watched not the people so much, but the pelicans. They were yawning. Didn’t know they could do that. There was something soothing about watching those prehistoric-looking birds open their huge beaks for the sole purpose of …relaxing. As though an appetizer to nature’s four-course meal to come, I enjoyed that moment and felt ready for whatever was coming next. I turned my attention to the guys fishing. Among the dozen or so, there was one who caught my attention. He was younger than “the regulars”…the retired Hispanic, Armenian and maybe Russian grandpas with years of experience etched in their foreheads as they sat near their white buckets of water ready to hold their catch of the day. This guy was 20-ish, full of enthusiasm and brown, like me. He caught me looking at him and jubilantly waved me over. Naturally, like a spoon to soup, I dipped over to him.
He was a nice guy. Twenty-seven. Ja-MAY-can. No dreads. His name was Prince or George. I called him
. He did construction but was a chef back home. Which me missed terribly. He told me how he prepares the Halibut or Lobster he might catch. Yummy. I
found that intriguing. Intriguing enough to sit and watch and chat about water,
fish, life and such. Three hours later he invited me to go get a chili corn
dog…we walked to the boardwalk and ordered our grub. I had a burger, no dogs
for me…but quite possibly when of the best worst burgers I’d had in a while. As
we wiped our mouths and fed remaining French fries to the Seagulls who’d become
our guests, I quietly asked if I could fish too since he had two poles. He
said, “Yes!” I smiled politely, but inside, yodeled, “Yee-hah!” Prince
There were more and new people in the space we left. I parked myself between Kevin (a film lighting guy) and a 10-year-old girl with long dark hair and big eyes…she was so cute and a pro. Her madre sold tamales to the fishermen. She smiled at me with encouragement; I do believe she could tell I hadn’t really been fishing since I was about her age. I cast my line out over the railing and into the vast ocean with gusto. I watched my line ebb and flow in the depths of the dark blue-green water. I couldn’t help but feel like the bait on my hook: an entity cast into a world of unknown harnessed with a purpose that was non-specifically specific. I’m a writer/actor/producer who lives a life of uncertainty. Uncertainty, no matter what your profession, is unsettling, like the ocean...but, like the ocean, can also offer such reward.
While pondering this, I felt my line tug…the little girl smiled at me and motioned for me to pull out the line as I jumped with excitement that something was happening! I pulled out my line and saw my prize: a little, tiny Smelt. It was my Smelt and I was happy for the success. The girl and Prince George helped me get him safely off the line and we threw him back in. I waved as I saw him swim back to his family. I quickly got new bait and went at it again! I caught two more Smelt, some “Croakers”/King Fish and a baby Perch. By then, dusk was skimming the horizon; the little girl had left with her mother; and Prince George had retreated to the benches and was listening to his headphones. He was bored whereas I was still havin’ a smashing time. Then it happened. I felt my rod jerk again – but this time, whatever was there was heavier than anything I’d caught so far. Oh God. What if I’d caught Jaws or a 25lb catfish or a baby sea monster? I started to pull him in, but was having trouble. Yikes. Yikes. YIKES! I keep turning to
George! HELP!”…but he couldn’t hear me ‘cause he was rhymin’ way out-loud along
with 50 Cent. Finally, one of the Hispanic fisher grandpas who’d caught and
already filleted a four-foot “Guitar” shark moseyed over to Prince George and
nudged him. Fisher ‘Pa said nothing, just nodded his head toward me, the
wide-eyed damsel in distress. Prince George jumped up and rescued me. We pulled
in the line, well, he pulled in the
line, and there flopping on the end was not Jaws or a monster, but a medium-sized
Bass!! I was thrilled! Once again, we removed the hook and threw him back, just
like all the others. I finally bid adieu to Prince George, and I beamed as I
walked down the pier and zipped my hoody. I felt nourished and successful and
knew with certainty, that there is happiness in the uncertain. Prince George