I have never been sober in Santa Barbara. I’ve been there many times, but I doubt I could recognize the basic landmarks unless they were viewed spinning around through the window of a cab.
This past weekend was no exception. I went to visit my brother and to see his new house, a charming, vastly overpriced two bedroom place with a backyard. Within three minutes of parking my car, I had a beer in my hand. I took a tour, sipping Corona and noting how damn nice the place was. It had recently been redone and was truly a great little house. Somehow my brother had managed to not only make a down payment on it but to fill it with nice furniture and flat screen TVs. Clearly he’s banking on the idea that there is no way the price of this place can go down given the crazy real estate market in Santa Barbara (it truly is absurd), and I tried to stay positive and agree with him while a voice in my head said, “Wow, that bedroom is worth $200,000. And the living room is worth $200,000. And the other bedroom…” and so on. We’re not talking a palace here, people. Nevertheless, it was damn nice and as his friends arrived for a housewarming BBQ, I couldn’t help but feel pangs of jealousy as everyone gathered and laughed on the back porch and the sun went down and the BBQ produced some delicious grilled chicken. Where was my backyard? Where was my BBQ with my friends? Where was my flat-screen TV?
The answer is… with the Sallie Mae Corporation, the company that gave me my student loans and demands a few hundred bucks from me for the next thirty years. I’ll be sixty when I pay that thing off. I’ll probably do a celebratory dance and put my back out. Oh how I wish I could live without debt, but it seems like amassing huge amounts of credit is the American way and you just have to embrace it and buy that overpriced house and get that zero-down TV you always wanted.
So I drank a lot that evening. We started at six and went until two or three in the morning, moving from beer to tequila to vodka tonics and full circle back to beer again. My brother’s friends are nice people, with a simple, happy-go-lucky outlook of young white kids who drink a lot and never really have to worry about much. Everybody asked me how my career was going and they seemed overly impressed to hear I had shot a TV show this past summer. I am the first to admit I was lucky to have that job, but I never thought anyone would be impressed by it. It goes to show you how jaded you can get in LA, when you are constantly feeling like everyone around you is doing far more exciting things than you are. All you have to do is leave this city and you realize how ordinary most people’s lives are and how amazed they are by the lives of “creative” people.
“You wrote a screenplay? Wow, that’s so cool.”
“Actually, I’ve written a dozen.”
You would never get a response like that in LA.
Cheers to Santa Barbara!