The Journey

Joel - Los Angeles, California
Entered on March 22, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65

My husband and I had the good fortune to travel the world. The worst day of our six-month adventure was our arrival home.

Indeed, it is about the journey and not the arrival; this I believe.

Our landlord tried to evict us. He claimed that we refused to pay a legitimate increase in rent. With us gone, he could exact more money than an annual increase of three percent rightfully allowed.

About to appear before a judge, our landlord’s lawyer disclosed his evidence, a notification of the legal rent increase, required only a month in advance. We swore we had never received it.

And then I spotted the error.

The landlord blundered when fabricating his “evidence”; this “notice” reflected the wrong date, thereby undermining his own claims.

There was an immediate settlement in our favor.

One of my most lucrative theater endeavors was a semi-improvised interactive entertainment. Two third-stringers from a production of “Tony and Tina’s Wedding” must have gotten high once and thought it would be lucrative and easy if, instead of a wedding, they made it a funeral; and, instead of Italian, they made it Jewish. Brilliant, right?

So they presented a cast of actors with a bare skeleton of ideas, and had us develop a script over the course of three months. No pay. The rewards would be forthcoming.

Against all common sense, there was a booking, some press. Upon arrival to one rehearsal we were presented with an agreement to sign. This more-like-an-edict-than-an-agreement awarded all potential credit, rights and profits to the pothead “innovators” and none to the actors who fleshed out the paltriest of premises to make a play.

I balked, primarily on principle. There followed much discussion, recrimination, and hurt feelings.

I ultimately settled for only their next best offer. I simply could not believe that this derivative-piece-of-crap-excuse for theater would ever earn a dime.

I was wrong.

Bored and preferring to disassociate myself from the petty people, I bailed as soon as was contractually allowed; yet, royalty checks naggingly arrived quarterly, payment for a show for which I would not be remembered.

It was certainly not about the close quarters of a one-bedroom apartment too small for two men who live large. It was not about the piddley pittance that royalties might bring for artlessness. It was about the effort, the experience.

I believe this.

Leonard Bernstein in a speech suggested I come from a generation that was impatient for an immediate end to war in Vietnam because we were raised to expect instant relief from an aspirin and spoiled by split-second mobility through time and space by the mere flick of a TV remote. I think he had us slightly wrong.

It was not so much the end we sought as it was change; change in policy, change in attitude, change in the way we regarded a people and their sovereignty. The change, not the end; the journey and not the arrival. This I believe.