Ever have one of those moments? It’s like déjà vu, nostalgia, but, occurring in the future. You’re watching yourself in the present but you’re seeing what will have already happened. A flash of the future; in the present.
Whenever I watch the academy awards, it happens. I see myself as a nominee for something. Best actor, supporting actor, cinematographer, director, original score…something.
This year was no different. Perhaps it was when Bill Murray told his co-presenter for best cinematography, “Ok, sweetheart, read the envelope tell us who got best shooter.” Or maybe it happened earlier during the red carpet walks.
But it always happens. I see myself. Hundreds of hours of work down to a moment of accolades and impeccable clothing; and they read the names; mine is 2nd from last. They show a clip of my work. They announce the last nominee.
Then, the pause.
“And the academy award goes to…” Me.
I’m as shocked as you. The sucker punch of recognition to my stomach and heart doubles me over in my seat. One hand on my face – I’m not covering my wide open mouth, nor am I weeping uncontrollably. I’m just simply amazed and I’m in slow motion. I need two hands to push myself up from the volume of noise. My respected colleagues hug me, hands on shoulders, kisses of affection to my check, hands in mine and I’m keeping a running count of the steps from my seat to the podium. Was that 17 or 18?
“Don’t trip…” I keep telling myself. “left foot, then right foot.” I keep smiling; keep walking. Finally at the end, there is the golden reward. Cradled in the presenters hands and making its way into mine. “Nice work, kiddo.” Bill Murray whispers to me. I tell him, “God, I loved you in meatballs and lost in translation.” He laughs, smiles, pats my back and backs up graciously and points to the microphone.
All I can see is light.
What comes out of my mouth is drivel, I’m sure. I’m also sure I say a word that will have to be bleeped during the 7-second delay.
I mention words like, acting…poetry, the love-making feeling of creativity (did I really just say that on tv?), the love of family, an unexpected joke comes from a story that my late-grandfather said I “never really worked for a living, but he loved me to spite himself.” I talk of love, light, how my son made me a student of his teachings; the words somehow appear in my drying mouth.
This is the part where my voice may shake or crack just enough to make the faintest of home-viewers think (‘he’s really passionate’ or ‘he’s faking’).
“But I’m not faking.” I say straight to the camera, as if reading their minds. “The weight of this moment is real, ” as I look at the statue in my hands.
Unexpectedly, the camera pans to the audience; panning across them, some smiling, my fellow-nominees, some giving the ever-faithful form of respect (the head-nod) and some even tearing up. The camera cuts back to me – then – again to my vacant seat.
Next to my vacant seat: You.
I know any moment the music will queue me to wrap it up – it hasn’t yet – so I continue. I feel my brain search for words. You laugh / fight a tear, mumble something that only I would know and would be able to hear above the quiet.
And then finally, “I hope to live my life that if my image and name were to appear during the ‘In memoriam” tribute, that…that, you would ask to for more….Thank you. Thank you, so much. Thanks, you.”
They didn’t cut me off – it was perfect timing. And it’s over almost as quickly as it began.
Bill ushers me off stage – I say something to him as he hugs me with one arm. We make impossible-to-fulfill plans for a baseball game or getting drunk in Japan. I clutch my golden action figure to my chest and make my way through the dark tunnels backstage to my red velvet seat.
The main event now long over has morphed into “all night parties and cocktail bars,” loosened ties, empty glasses of drinks in one hand, your high heels carried in the other.
You finally get to meet that celebrity whose pictures you’ve crushed into your childhood diary. Between us, he puts one arm around mine and the other around yours and we three walk, arm-in-arm-in-arm, away from the crowds and towards a waiting car.
It’s late; early a.m. It might even be raining lightly.
In the car, “Congratulations,” you whisper at me. “What music are you going to play first?”
Staring out the window, I turn and smile, “Nothing I heard tonight.”