Even more difficult than saying goodbye to my friends was saying goodbye to my family. Mostly because these people are both the most worried about me, and also the most invested in my success. When I first revealed months ago that I had decided to move to Los Angeles, these were the people I got the practical talks from. The But You Don’t Have Any Money talks. The But Where Will You Live? talks. What’s really awesome about that, though, is that even though I don’t have my parents anymore (I still have my dad, of course, but he’s in no condition to give me advice), I do have my brother and sister sort of acting in their stead; making sure I’m OK, and making me feel that I haven’t lost a support system at all. That’s so important to me. Even without my parents, I’m not alone. And I love my bro and sis so much. They’ve always taken such good care of me, and I know they always will. And I hope they know that I will always take care of them whenever and however I can.
It was also hard to say goodbye to Caroline. It was difficult saying goodbye to all my nieces and nephew – Colleen, William, and Hannah – don’t get me wrong. But Caroline was first. We have history. She’s 13 now, and I remember getting her a “Future NYU Graduate” bib when she was born, and I was still in college. I babysat her when she was a newborn. I played with her every time I visited my sister. I remember the first time I realized she really cared what I thought and said – when we were playing in her room when she was about 5, and she accidentally hit me in the face. Hard. After I screamed about how she needs to watch what she’s doing as I held my nose in pain, she went to her toy box turned her back to me and started crying. As if she were putting herself in the corner to be punished. After my pain subsided I went to her and turned her around, and she looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said “I’m sorry.” And she meant it. I saw in her face that she knew she hurt me and she didn’t mean to and she was genuinely sorry. She wasn’t crying because I yelled, she was crying because I yelled. You know? It was then that I knew that not only did I love this little girl as if she were my own, but that she was a good person with a good heart. When I saw her for the last time before I left, at the home while visiting my dad, we were talking and she seemed a bit sad that I was leaving. I hugged her and slipped my business card into her hand and said “I know that your mom can always give you my info, but I wanted to give it to you directly, because I want you to know that you can call me or email me whenever you want and as often as you want.” She slipped it into her pocket happy, I think, that I made the gesture. I wanted her to know that even though I’m on the other side of the country, I will be here for her if she needs me. And I will make my holiday visit back to New York in January so that I can be there for her birthday.
I had mixed feelings about leaving my dad. On the one hand, it’s hard being so far away from him and being worried that one day I’m going to receive That Call, and I’ll have to make sure I can pony up the money to get home ASAP. The idea of not being there for my Dad’s final moments; the idea that even as I continue to go home and visit, and visit him in the home, each visit might be The Last One, scares me. I hate the idea of Not Getting There In Time. On the other hand, my dad was the one person who really understood me as a person. He’s the one I always talked to about my plays when I was acting, and my stories later on. He’s the one who never got to live the life that I’m living now, but always wanted to. He’s where I get my wanderlust and writerliness from. If anyone would understand my desire to move to a new city that would both benefit my career and satisfy my need to explore, it’s him.
It broke my heart when I saw him this last time, and I said “Daddy, guess what? I’m moving to Los Angeles” and he had no idea what I was talking about. I’m not even completely sure he knows who I am anymore. But it broke my heart, because I know that if he were in his right mind, even though he would miss me terribly, he’d also be excited for me the way he was when I went to Dublin in college.
And then, of course, there was one other person I needed to see before I left.
I couldn’t leave without paying my respects to my mother before I went. I went with Robin and my brother, Kenny, and it was a beautiful day to go. Bright and sunny, and we were all in good spirits. I wish I could tell my mom in person all about my exciting new adventure, but a big part of me believes that she’s able to see what I’m doing somehow, and is proud of and excited for me. I hope so. If you happen to be at St. Charles’ Cemetary in Farmingdale, NY and feel like doing me a favor, stop by her tombstone and put a stone or flower or something on the grave. And tell her I sent you.