October is always orange. No matter where I am in the world—at least in the Northern Hemisphere—October comes in orange. Wisconsin is a pumpkin orange. Bordeaux, France, is a soft orange. Northern California is a gentle orange. Florida is a bold orange. Russia, China, Japan—they’re all their own oranges.
How did I get lucky enough to travel to so many places? Well, without much makeup and with brown or blonde hair color, I can look a whole range of oddball characters, from a crack addict to a hillbilly to a psych-ward patient to a prostitute. So I actually get a lot of work as unknown, unmemorable characters. I’m the loud, ugly, angry woman in the crowd behind a lynching (ugh!) or a burning at the stake (ugh!). It’s a good thing I can look so unmemorable because I can keep getting roles like this.
With my hair in a ponytail, I can be a soccer mom, the best friend, or an infomercial fitness maven. Hair in a bun and I’m suddenly the understanding teacher or the loving aunt; add old-fashioned glasses and I become the meek secretary who knows her boss’s dark secrets. With more makeup and a sophisticated hairdo, I transform into the rich socialite or the smarmy couture director. Add glasses and I can become a kind professor, a museum curator, a bank executive. Actually, the older I get, the more roles I can do.
Truthfully, though, sometimes the makeup thing makes me feel, well, made up—the false kind…the being-a-fraud kind. Without it I go invisible because my eyelashes disappear, and most of what makes me striking is involved in my eyes, which only really show up with mascara, eyeliner, and eyeshadow. People have actually gasped when they’ve seen me without makeup when they’re used to seeing my full Hollywood face. Even my laptop doesn’t recognize me without makeup! Oh, well. Here I am—the lashless wonder until the magic wand of mascara has had its way with my long (but light red) eyelashes. I heard it said once (and I’m not sure it was straight from the source) that Cindy Crawford doesn’t even look like Cindy Crawford when she wakes up in the morning. Few supermodels look fabulous without their face put on. That made me feel better, a little less fraudulent. But still….
Back to the orange hue of October, LA has the best orange of all. I love LA, especially in October, but I love leaving it, too, so I can come back and love it again. As you know by now, the constant striving wears me down after a while.
One of the oddest things about me is that it’s easier for me to go to India than it is to go to the post office. It’s easier for me to go scuba diving than to buy a packet of stamps. Regarding going to India, I’m talking everything—go get a passport picture taken for the visa, stand in line for hours at the consulate, buy the plane ticket, fly eighteen hours in a cramped airplane seat to the other side of the world, stand in line again. And that’s just the beginning—everything requires standing in line there. I’m also talking getting Delhi Belly and talking to and feeding lepers in the street.
Scuba diving requires getting to the place, putting on your gear….well, you get the idea. Meanwhile, the post office is just down the street. It even has a parking lot. I can’t explain myself.
One time I was sitting in an auto rickshaw in India watching an older woman line up her few possessions on the sidewalk, sweep out her little makeshift tent with a tiny broom, and start putting the items back. She could sense someone was watching her, and she looked over at me with (what I took to be) fierce indignation and pride.
I wish I could have told her that I was admiring how much reverence she treated each object with. Moments like that put everything in perspective, for a while, until it wears off. And then I’m back to the LA striving thing along with everyone else.
But one thing is for sure—my travels make me love my adopted town all the more. As I ride the airport bus, there are those palm trees, lifting my heart anew. The palm trees in Viet Nam and Thailand and Australia and Florida lift my heart, too, but somehow this is different.
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