The Lunchtime Walk

Today I was working hard in my cubicle when the phone rang. After answering and placing the caller on hold for my boss, I glanced at the clock and realized it was one o’clock, lunchtime. I looked around, expecting to have company, but it was just me this time. The group co-worker lunch outings of my old job were a thing of the past. It might not happen right away, but I could get used to being by myself. New friends might be right around the corner, so maybe now's the time to revel in my solitude. It was a beautiful day outside. I decided to go for a walk around the lot.

I grabbed my peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the fridge, and deciding it was too cold to eat, I placed it in the toaster for a couple minutes before stepping outside. It was a beautiful day, alright, if beauty can be equated with furnace-like traits. The thick valley air was baking at a higher temperature than the toaster, the sun had lit the place hotter than the most blinding lighting scheme on the lot, and the sky was buzzing bright neon blue, but I walked on anyway, taking periodical bites of my sandwich before the peanut butter sizzled and the jelly turned to liquified strawberry fructose.

I felt thirsty, not for water but for conversation. If only I’d had another movie studio lot neophyte or two walking alongside me, we would be powerless against the exchange of such commentary as, “Holy shit! Both Curly Sue and Lethal Weapon 3 were filmed on this soundstage. And Cool Hand Luke! Do you think that guy [pointing right at him] worked on the egg scene??” Instead, I kept these observations, discoveries, and hilariously tactless banter scenarios colliding into one another inside my head, where they eventually drove me nuts.

As I wandered around, through sets and mini-streets, past trailers, almost getting hit by speeding golf carts and VIP tour groups, I started to feel the energy of millions of things happening all at once, through the force of money, technology, and people, both creative and business-minded, balancing the act for the means to make more media. This place is a living, breathing organism, and here I am, free to roam like a boomerang for a precious hour, intentionally lost, bouncing around this pinball machine with no sense of belonging, not really knowing what I’m doing here, not that I ever will, because when my never-ending pile of office paperwork gets pushed towards the intersection of contracts, economics and artistic license, I’m still an intrigued, mystified movie fan at heart, so I doubt I will ever shake my curious awe of this gigantic alternate world, no matter how real it becomes.

As I learn more and more about what happens on the set and behind the scenes, I’m more deeply sworn to a secrecy so surreal that I feel like a privileged, isolated spy, only I’m not spying, I’m just working, I’m just a new girl walking around these staged, deceptive streets, out of place, out of step, and definitely out of mind. Everyone here seems contently jaded and functional, caught up in the daily grind, rushing in and out of the commissary like they’ve got someplace better to be, and all I can think about are my friends and family. I think about how much they would appreciate being here and seeing this, and as I walk alone back to my cubicle, I think about how much I would appreciate having them here with me.


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