Monday, August 5, 2013

Runyan Canyon

After service one Sunday in April, Berry and I took Hobson and Blondie on our favorite hike: Runyan Canyon. Hobson was Blondie’s young boyfriend by then. The two of them would hike this trail for years to come, where dogs are allowed off leash. There was nothing in the world better than the four of us hanging out together, especially when we reached the top; Berry and I sat on the high bench that overlooked the city as our dogs ran around underneath. Sometimes, as we perched together overlooking the Hollywood Hills, we could see Century City with its high rise buildings glittering in the sun to our right and Hollywood's famous circular Capitol Records building to our left.
“Darling, I’m surprised you haven’t always attended church,” Berry said to me. "You are the most spiritual person I know. There’s just something about you. I get the feeling that you have a connection to God that few people have. It’s like what Reverend Anderson said today. And it’s a gift, sweetikins; it’s a gift that you possess. I think it’s something you need to explore. And I want to help you in any way I can.”
“Thanks Berry, that means so much to me," I could tell she was speaking from her heart. Inside, my heart was melting from her kindness. 
“But it’s not just that, it’s something more. It’s a connection, not something you can learn in a book,” she explained. “Just pray on it, see what you learn, find out what God has to say to you.”
“I will, I promise you, I will,” I gave her a big hug right there on that little bench.
I watched Hobson’s tail standing straight up as he looked up at us, moving back and forth so fast I could hardly keep it in focus. I called it his "Happy Meter." He was very excited to be there, the sky was a pale blue with fluffy while clouds and we were surrounded by nature. Blondie, his older girlfriend, was crashed out in the dirt taking the opportunity to rest before heading back down. All four of us grateful as the sun began to set.





Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Scotty Named Hobson

That morning at church I watched the way my friend Berry Perkins carried herself like I imagined my favorite Roman Goddess Diana, Goddess of the Hunt moved. Berry glided down the church isle, her dress was light and airy, and looking like it was blowing slightly in the wind even though there wasn't even a breeze inside All Saints church. It was as though she was an angel here on earth flying through life with invisible wings; her feet never touching the ground.
That's when I realized that Berry was, in a way, a modern day Goddess Diana. Her tall and slender stature and wavy blonde hair gave Berry a mysterious, mystical vibe yet at the same time, she was completely down to earth. Both Berry and Diana were big time nature buffs and dog lovers. In fact, Berry's dog Murray was the best man at her wedding. I didn't know her back then when she exchanged vows with Tony Perkins but Berry showed me the pillow she made, stuffed with Murray's fur that held the wedding rings at the backyard ceremony in Cape Cod. Murray was long gone by the time we forged our friendship. Her current dogs, mutts named Charlie and Gregory, were showing their age. Berry had just adopted a new boy: a Scotty named Hobson.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Finding my faith

There I was at All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills with my down-to-earth Hollywood friend Berry Berenson Perkins. I was raised Methodist so the kneeling and standing as well as the signing of the cross were foreign to me. Berry never made me feel beneath her. She was completely non-judgmental and filled with the unconditional love I craved.
“Just follow me,” she whispered, grabbing my hand and walking with me arm and arm to the front of the church for communion. I had experienced communion in the Methodist faith but this was an entirely new animal to me.
Turns out the differences between the Methodist and Episcopal faiths mirrored the differences between me and Berry. Methodism came about in the 18th century partly from dissatisfaction in the perceived elitist tendencies of the Church of England. I was from a middle class family, growing up in the suburban San Fernando Valley. Berry, originally from England, was part of an aristocratic family. The Methodists were the working class denomination while the Episcopalians catered to the aristocracy.
I learned that the roots of Episcopal and Methodist churches are shared in sixteenth century Anglican reformation. Both religions maintain the authority of the Bible as the authority and that salvation comes from faith in Jesus as the Christ. In other words, the God of both faiths does not require that we do good work in order to be saved. For both religions, the Nicene Creed is a statement of faith and they both pray to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
As we entered the sanctuary that sunny Sunday morning in April, Berry told me “I had that dream again last night that you met your handsome prince.” Berry knew my sad plight in the relationship department all too well and had followed my crazy schemes to meet the right guy. The one thing I could always count on with Berry was her positive outlook: the next one would be the right guy for me. She was definitely a big time romantic at heart.
I liked this dream and asked for details.
“A true Hollywood romance," she swooned." You’ll exchange vows right in my backyard.”
Berry was like that; infectious in her enthusiasm. I went to New York City with her one time and even accompanying her on something as mundane as getting her hair cut was a memorable experience. Everyone from the receptionist to the stylist was ecstatic to see her. She was like that. People were drawn to her. I was drawn to her.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

God at work

I'll never forget my first Sunday morning at All Saints Episcopal Church; how Berry knew all the prayers by heart, exactly when to kneel, when to stand, and most importantly, when to make the sign of the cross. I kept my eyes fixated on her so that I would know what to do. 
The morning light streamed in through the stained glass windows as Reverend Carol Anderson, one of the first women ordained in the Episcopal faith, explained that the scriptures show how God works in each of us, drawing us back to him.
“Whether we acknowledge him or not, God is at work seeking to reconcile us to him,” she explained from the pulpit, dressed in her simple white hooded robe. “Many of us can see this only in retrospect looking back, we see how God has been at work all along.” She went on to share her own life experiences that made her rethink her relationship with the divine and told the congregation about discovering a loving God, a concept I had never before been introduced to. The God of my childhood, the one I was raised to praise and worship was a vengeful, mean guy, just waiting in the wings for me to step out of line. That morning, Reverend Carol Anderson rocked my world.  
By that time, Berry and I had become so close. She was that rare person in Los Angeles who I could really depend on, someone who didn't judge me and someone who, like my dogs, was always there for me. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

All Saints

After the trauma of the Irishman left me raw and feeling damaged and dirty inside, I gave up completely on my quest to meet Mr. Right...or at least, that's what I tried to tell myself. In the pit of my stomach, I was still yearning to meet the man of my dreams and fall in love. I wanted a family of my own, already! It didn't help that my mom continued to rag on me about the subject. I felt like unless there as a man by my side, my parents would never see me as a successful human being, no matter what I did.

So, in my mid 30s, I decided I needed to stop living my life searching for love as my main focus. Once again, my friend Berry Perkins came to my rescue by introducing me to the perfect place to let go of my problems: All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills. She had been inviting me to join her on Sundays for a long, long time. Finally, I did. 
This oasis of calm offered me a beautiful, quiet sanctuary to sit and contemplate my life each week. I appreciated the splendor of the building with its large stained-glass windows and huge chandeliers. I started meeting Berry there each Sunday at the 11:00 am service to worship. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?

I spent every waking (and sleeping) moment with Aiden for the next week. The only time we weren't together was when I was working. He didn't really have a regular job; he just helped his sister, the friend of my BFF Berry Berenson. I was amazed at how well we got along. It was simply magical. But...that magic disappeared at the end of the first week when our sex went from sweet to rough. 
At first, I thought he accidentally hit me. I hoped that was the case. He just drank too much, I told myself. Then I hoped he didn't mean to pinch me...hard. But he kept hurting me. I realized I had crossed over into something I didn't know anything about. I was treading into new territory now and I didn't like it. I tried to close myself off from the entire situation. While he was hurting me, he also spoke to me in an angry voice calling me horrible names. I was scared. Scared to death. I couldn't move. This was a first for me and I sunk down into myself, trying to pretend this wasn't happening to me. Not me! I was a good girl. How could I have put myself into this situation? This was all my fault. I had to get out of there. Maybe if I shrunk myself I could get out of his grip and run. But then suddenly, it was over. He simply rolled off me and fell asleep.
I grabbed my clothes and ran out of there, neither of us saying another word. When I got in my car, I remember feeling like Alice in Wonderland, falling down the rabbit hole. “How far down will you go, Alice?” I asked myself. There was sa part of me that felt I deserved to be treated like that, I deserved to be abused.
The next day, I did some investigating into this Irishman's background and learned that Aidan was sent to America to get off drugs, hard drugs. And my guess was that the treatment wasn’t working.
I never did see Aidan again. I heard he went back to Ireland shortly after that incident. I realized that I wasn't a very good judge of character when it come to men. I needed to continue healing before I met someone appropriate.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bullseye

Aidan called me later that day and we talked for hours on the phone. That night, we met for drinks and a tryst and after that we became inseparably. Sound familiar? Just like every other relationship. Once again, I hit the party circuit hard with this new beau, nursing hangovers by day and acting like somebody other than myself at night. Poor Blondie had to witness her owner going insane, giving me that look saying: “please be careful, you are my world.”
I threw myself at Aidan with reckless abandon.  And when he started to pull away from me, I panicked. One night, I met him and his buddies at a pup in Santa Monica. The smoke filled room made my eyes sting immediately so what did I do? I joined in and bought a pack of Marlboros and a pitcher of beer. Aidan was busy throwing darts with his friends and barely took the time to say hello which just made me try harder to get his attention. I don’t remember much but by the time we left, I was pretty drunk. Aidan drove my car to his place and tore my clothes off then proceeded to have sex with me.