Cyn. Oh, Cyn. We met just a month or so after I arrived here—we were both auditioning for the same commercial. Cyndi was my age, my height, my temperament, my tempo. She had red hair, too, but hers was long, luxurious, and straight. Plus, she was relieved of those pesky freckles. (Speaking of that commercial audition, it was my first; Cyn wasn’t the only one in the room who was my age and size with red hair; it was the oddest feeling to be in a room of women who could’ve been near clones.)
We became instaBFFs and eventually roomies. A native Los Angeleno (there are a few), she showed me around town—all the hip nightclubs, where the cutest guys hung out, the cool thrift stores, the private beach spots…everything.
Cyndi had always been beautiful. She didn’t have to become funny and smart (although she was both in spades) to compensate for any lack whatsoever. She lacked nothing, absolutely nothing, at least as far as the eyes could see. At times she could’ve been the instigation for the term hot mess. Most of the time she kind of... drooped. I don’t mean in a bad posture kind of way—she drooped in that she was so warm, so loving, so oozy. Maybe I mean dripped, not drooped. She just kind of melted alllllll over the place. She dripped so much that people would run after her with dustpans and saucepots to catch this particular saucepot’s spillage, lap her up, try to dive in to the puddles she left behind to perhaps have some of her magic rub off on them. Picture a modern-day Marilyn Monroe but less ditzy, with more substance and just as much glamour and ooh la la.
As an aside, I’m sure Norma Jean wasn’t ditzy at all and had a ton of substance. She’d have to have had (wow, is that a clunky sentence or what?) a lot of substance to carry the persona of Marilyn.
Men and women young and old, kids, pets, even garden gnomes, I bet, found Cyn irresistible. I swear our houseplants brightened when she walked by, and they would’ve followed her around the house if they could’ve. Same with the garden gnomes—those rascals!
Lots and lots of folks asked if we were sisters. Not only did we look alike, we also moved alike, dressed alike, talked alike (after those elocution lessons sunk in). We went to the same hairstylist and shopped in the same stores. But no one was running after me with saucepans.
She was soooooo easygoing, too. She rarely got ruffled—a drama queen with a penchant for the macabre at times, yes, but that was more for fun and show, or so I thought. I wished she’d become more ruffled and stuck around more. I get ruffled, unfortunately. I…..worry. What, me worry? Yes, all the time. As in…ALL the time. It gives me something to do so maybe I won’t HAVE to worry so much. It’s as though I might forestall the need for worrying if I outworry the worry. If I worry a lot, I might have less to worry about, the less I’d need to worry…kind of like I’m pre-empting it. Does that make any sense at all? Probably not—but it did to me.
One time a couple of friends were discussing something that might not go well. One said, “Don’t worry. Trish will worry about it for you.” Meanwhile, I was on the other side of town, nowhere near this conversation! Ack.
I’ll fill you in more on Cyn as we go along. For right now, hmmmmm…what else can I tell you? We loved it there. But, like most everyone else there, we were slightly, well, malcontent. You never fully arrive at your destination here. It’s never a job well done—at least not for more than five minutes.
My dad was a dreamer guitar and piano player—meaning he dreamed about it more than he played them, and never actually put together a band or searched out gigs. But he did have a subscription to Rolling Stone. When I was way too young to grok that magazine but read it anyway, ridiculously precocious kid that I was, I read an article in which Carrie Fisher interviewed Madonna. Now there were two women near the top of their games. I think Carrie asked Madonna something along the lines of, “Do you ever feel like you’ve made it?”
“Not in this town,” or something very close to that, was Madonna’s response.
We’d been working this gig for twenty years. Still nothing—nothing major, anyway. Cyn and I got a little lucky, I guess. By the time we were in our mid-thirties, we’d both had enough low-level success to at least pay the basics—food, rent, gym membership, weekly massage. (Hey, you try to make it in this town! I chose that luxury over almost everything else.) I’d been cast as the lead’s sister in some zombie flick that became a cult classic that played over and over and over again. If you’re ever up late and you see early-twenty-something zombies from a couple of decades ago, you’ll see me. Cyn had been in enough commercials to keep her fed, well-coiffed, and beautifully dressed. She was also in a number of print ads, which she loved because she didn’t have to wake up before the birds to get to set; print photographers want those models looking well-rested, since it’s a still shot. Those early mornings don’t show on the face as much in moving pictures.
But it wasn’t enough….maybe for the checkbook somewhat…but not for the soul. Nothing was really wrong; it was just some mucky malaise that felt like every day was something to slog through. I’ve heard it said that having dreams to pursue makes life interesting. But having them not come true, year after year, can make life a slogfest…emphasis on slog and none on fest.
Relative to some people in some places, it could be viewed as close to perfect. Except it wasn’t. I could live the charade, even have many, many moments of bliss. I had my palm trees, the Hollywood sign, and near-perfect weather all year, plus I had Cyndi and the cats.
Someone once suggested to me not to put any part of life on hold while I was waiting for career and marriage and family and all that to happen. Cyn and I did not have our lives on hold. But they were so not on hold that they didn’t let anyone else fit in, really.
And so the years passed…suddenly forty was on the near horizon. How’d that happen? Cyndi’s malcontent turned into misery. She was a few months younger, and she warned me she wouldn’t take kindly to forty. She was always being dramatic. How could I have known that this was the time to pay more attention?
Forty came and went for me, but not for her. She killed herself the night before her fortieth birthday.
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