At every party there are two kinds of people – those who want to go home and those who don’t. (Ann Landers)
I write one of these blogs each year, to keep myself honest and remind myself how lucky I am to do what I do. At least I used to think it was luck – two months and two parties later I’m not so sure.
I don’t like parties. I’m rarely invited to them, and if I am, they’re usually some work function where I know all of two people and spend the entire night sitting in a corner by myself. I’m just not somebody who fits in at a party. That was until what happened in Chicago, and now Los Angeles.
Just before Halloween I headed back to Chicago to be part of NBC’s One Chicago Day festivities, including that night’s party. My entire expectation was to hold up a wall while waiting for the two people I knew to show up and maybe talk to them for a couple of minutes. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
My good friend Philip Winchester, once one of our mutual friends alerted him to where I was, decided that he was going to spend the majority of the evening sitting right next to me. We literally sat there for some two hours together, talking about everything from his daughter to the ridiculous fixtures in my hotel bathroom. (This is how you know you’re friends with somebody – you wind up talking with them about the most inane things.) So I had a wingman pretty much the whole night.
And I happen to look up a few minutes into the party and realize that dead ahead of me is Colin Donnell. Yeah, that Colin Donnell, the one I rambled in front of because I’m such a huge fan of his. Once he turns around and realizes I’m there, he comes over and says, “Move over, let’s chat.” And proceeds to sit there and talk with me about, again, the most random stuff. I do remember making him laugh when I freely admitted that my baseball team resembles a dumpster fire (which it does).
Then about an hour and a half into the party, who makes his inauspicious entrance but my other good friend and TV doctor Jeff Hephner. If you ranked the people I adore in my life I’m pretty sure it’s Philip and Jeff right at the top there. So Jeff and I, having originally gone some five years without physically being in the same room together, have now seen each other twice in the same year. And I swear that he can always make me laugh and just generally feel like I can do anything.
So if you’re keeping score, I got to spend time with three ridiculously talented people that I hold in very high regard. At one point I think I stopped, realized that I had Jeff on one side of me and Philip on the other, and just thought What the hell am I doing here?
I’ve never been in better company and I’ve never felt more loved than I did right then. And I realized that I had earned those moments. Those guys chose to spend time with me – quite a bit of time. They were genuinely interested in what I had to say. I probably still rambled, but hey. I belonged there. And I remember distinctly coming back to my hotel room that night and just crying, because I knew I had experienced what will stand as one of the best nights of my life.
Skip ahead in our story to Tuesday. Hulu threw a little get-together in Beverly Hills so I, knowing a few folks on their shows, decided I’d come up and finally put faces to names and tweets. There was me hanging out with Tara Lynne Barr just chilling. Then I realize, with increasing horror, that Aaron Paul is standing directly behind me. One of the people I have always been too scared to talk to is literally over my shoulder. This is not happening. Except it totally is.
It took two of the network reps to steal his attention, but he turns around and once I reminded him of who I was, he couldn’t have been nicer. He told me how sweet I was in the interview that we did together. Let me repeat that for a second: Aaron Paul, only the guy with like a billion Emmy Awards, just complimented my work. And then he stood there and told me a story about Wesley Snipes. I am literally standing next to Aaron Paul again just shooting the breeze. And getting hugged. And making him laugh.
And then we come to Tommy Dewey. Tommy, whom I have come to love because he’s on two of my favorite shows in Code Black and Casual, and come to bond with in a sense because we are both writers. And we finally got to have a conversation, one that threw me off guard in the best way. He was asking me questions about my job, and genuinely wanting to know more about it. I’ve never had somebody care that much before. And then when I told him about what had happened in Chicago, and how Jeff thought that was more a reflection on me, he told me that Jeff was right. Tommy, again, complimented my work and thanked me for supporting his show. And there’s when my brain exploded.
I had two people that again, I respect and can be called a fan of, tell me that I’m good at what I do. And between that and the warm reception I had in Chicago it finally started to dawn on me that this is not luck. This is mutual respect that I’ve earned. I belong here and I kind of like it.
So I’m thankful for a whole lot on this particular Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for the company that I’ve been able to keep. Thankful for the fact that I got to share those two nights with some truly wonderful people and look them dead in the eye and be on their level. I’m thankful that what I do is helping them in some way, because heaven knows that they deserve it. But I won’t necessarily say I’m lucky anymore. I think they’ve proven to me that it’s less luck and more hard work and heart.