Fear and Loathing in Honolulu
I have that déjà vu feeling almost every day. I used to think I was perhaps psychic or prescient, that my experience with déjà vu was some sort of flash of recognition or foreshadowing. I have recently come to realize that it is only because I operate in the same three-square mile arena that I have for most of my life and that I am really just doing the same things over and over again.
My sister and I had coffee at Magee's the other day while we reminisced about one of our early journeys - we walked to Magee's to split a cream horn. Now here we are almost thirty years later doing the exact same thing (well, we split a scone, not a cream horn, which is, however, what I really wanted).
As I got out of the car and walked up the steps of Jane and Sloan Warner's house at 247 South Ashland Avenue, I definitely experienced déjà vu. I remembered walking to the door to deliver or pick something up and feeling sort of shy and self-important at the same time.
I must have been at the house when I was 17 or 18; I worked for a law firm downtown as a runner. It was a great job (although, as it turned out, one for which I was ill-suited). I spent most of the day walking between the courthouse, County Clerk's office, other attorneys' offices and the firm. Occasionally, I would get to leave downtown, in my car, to drive somewhere, which was always a welcome break, as it must have been on the day I visited 247 South Ashland.
Although no one in the office seemed to care much, I prided myself on my speed, responsibility and efficiency. I never took anything to the wrong place, never wasted time, and never lost anything. Not that it really mattered, as any mistakes I might have made could have been undone in fifteen minutes.
That would have been right before I moved from Lexington to go college and then to work for two years for a television commercial production company. I worked directly under the owners of the company as the liaison between them and the crews and other employees.
One morning I came to work to learn that over the weekend a director had hired a production assistant to take a tape of a commercial to Hong Kong. And paid for everything. I was livid. "Why didn't anyone call me?" I ranted. "I want to go to Hong Kong."
I realize, as I did then, that this would not normally be acceptable behavior in a work environment but remember, this was Hollywood. Tantrums were as commonplace as the people who placate the throwers. "It's OK," crooned a producer. We had just finished a Coca-Cola commercial and he seemed to think he could convince them to let a courier (me) bring a finished version to their annual meeting - in Hawaii. "And you can stay a few extra days," he finished.
I went home, packed my bags and headed for Hawaii that afternoon. I stuck the tape in my bag and didn't give it much thought until I got to the hotel where I was to deliver the neatly labeled tape; I had, after all, been a runner and had never made a mistake - this was the easy part - my mind was on the five days I planned to spend on the beach.
I walked to the hotel desk to call the Coke people to tell them I was on my way up. I reached into my bag to find - no tape. I searched again. I called the taxi company that had brought me from the airport. They located my driver - no tape. I walked through the lobby, freaking out. How could this have happened? I briefly considered that someone might have taken it but quickly realized that not many people would have much interest in a not-exactly-groundbreaking Coke ad.
Finally, dejected, and thinking that I would never be able to suffer through the shame of going back to work (they wouldn't have fired me - they would have just overnighted another tape - but they would have teased me more relentlessly than I could have borne), I went back to the counter where I said to the desk clerk, "I don't suppose anyone has found a tape that says 'Coca-Cola' on it and turned it in to you?" "This tape?" she replied as she pulled MY tape from under the counter. It seemed I had already gotten it out of my bag when I asked her to call the Coke people and she, seeing it laying there labeled with the their names, had presumed (I still hate her) that I wanted to leave it at the desk for them.
It all ended OK; they got their tape and I had a great vacation and never told anyone what happened. But it scared me; it shook my faith in myself. Until that moment I thought I was flawless and I made it a point to stay that way. Until that moment I was so afraid of screwing up that I was afraid to try anything. I came home from Hawaii more adventurous; more willing to be involved, even when I didn't know the outcome.
Shortly after my trip to Hawaii, I moved back to Lexington. I had wanted to come home for a while but I was afraid. Afraid I wouldn't find a job, afraid that I would be bored and mostly afraid that people would think that by coming home, I had failed.
I thought about all of this in the seconds that I stood on Jane and Sloan's front porch, waiting for them to answer the bell. I concluded that it is good to be reminded of life's lessons and that if I have to keep walking over the same paths to do that then I am in the right place.
247 South Ashland Avenue
3200 square feet, 4 bedroom; 2 and a half baths, 2 car garage
Contact Whitney Wiggins (but not late at night
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