Those who know me well know that I have a wildly vivid imagination. Which is probably why I like writing so much. I’ve always been somewhat impulsive and when I was younger, I had a fearlessness that often bordered on being reckless. But as the years wear on, we become less impulsive, and being reckless is generally ill-advised. So the other day when I heard that Harrison Ford had been in a plane crash, I was reminded of a time, a million years ago, when I was young and in love with someone who didn’t know I existed. Looking back I’m actually surprised I didn’t get arrested.
I began my imaginary love affair with Harrison Ford (as many of us did) when he emerged as Han Solo in Star Wars. Then there was the lovely Hanover Street which, if you’ve never seen it, is really quite a sweet movie and, of course, the All-American-Badass: Indiana Jones.
It’s 1983 and I’m living in Los Angeles, working, going to school, and heavily involved in the film industry. Well, not really. I used to frequent this bar (no, I was not yet 21) where a lot of the soap writers would hang out and I got to know them. I could often be spotted at said bar where Jack Wagner used to work before General Hospital rocketed him to fame. A friend of mine (who actually was in the biz) knew about my super-secret love affair with Ford and told me that a friend of hers knew someone who knew someone, who knew someone who knew where they were filming the next Indiana Jones movie and, as luck would have it, it was right in our own back yard: the local desert.
So I took a day off school and work (yes, really), packed up my old car and headed out. In my head it played out like this: I’d drive out there, the crew would spot me, invite me onto the set and I end up getting a walk-on role in the movie (because of course this happens all the time with stalkers, er, I mean fans). Of course I’d meet the love of my life and he would realize I was the only one for him and, well, queue happy ending music. No, I wasn’t delusional (well, maybe a little) and yes, I was very, very young. Anyway, there I was all set to meet my future husband, The Eurhythmics’ latest hit on the radio and me, blasting out into the desert.
But here’s the thing. The desert is big. I mean really, really big and, you know, the person who told me about the filming was slightly sketchy (big surprise) so the details were fuzzy too. There was no Waze app, no texting, no cell phones; just a paper map and some random directions to “keep heading east.” But for those of you who know me (ever the optimist) I figured I’d have no trouble finding it, right? Wrong.
After an entire day of driving, sitting, waiting (I mean maybe they were late, right?), driving some more, asking some sketchy guy who lived in a shack and said he was the “guard of the desert” hmmm, I waited some more then I finally gave up and headed back.
I was disappointed but not entirely discouraged. I wound up back at the bar and let Jack Wagner pour me a drink because you know, if you’re down, why not?
Still, I remained determined. I kept the faith that someday, somehow, we’d meet. Then, several years later (after several more failed attempts to meet him), it happened. I read in a newspaper that Harrison Ford would be putting his prints in Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Again I took the day off from work (is anyone amazed at this point that I was actually able to keep a job?) and headed into Hollywood to finally, finally, finally meet him. I left my apartment blustering with excitement: it was finally going to happen.
Today was the day, I could feel it.
I made sure that I got there well in advance of the ceremony, but still I was too late. By the time I arrived and parked, the line-up to see him was four blocks deep. My heart sank. It was at that moment that I realized that it was now or never. I had to act and I had to act quickly. I needed an idea, something that could get me to the front of the line because if I did that and he saw me, he’d know (as I’ve always known) we were destined to be together. I crossed the street to get a look at who was in front. Just behind the velvet rope was a tour group and as I stood envying their spot, I noticed one of them waving to another cluster of people trying to break into the line. Part of their group still had to join them, and there was my chance! I sprinted to the group of girls who were trying to push through the line, all of them were very young (definitely younger than I was) and the other people who lined up weren’t really letting them in. So I walked up and said “Hi, good to see you all,” (pretending to know them) and then said to the folks in line, “Excuse us, we need to join our group up front.” So I lead the group and pushed through the line, the girls followed me, thanking me for the help (and clearly they were so happy that I found them that none of them said, “Hey, we don’t know you!”).
Suddenly there it was, the front of the line. Just behind the elusive velvet rope.
Now, I figured that when I got up there and the rest of the group saw me the jig would be up. Someone would say they didn’t know me. But thankfully no one did. Maybe it was the excitement, maybe the angels were finally smiling down on me, I don’t know, but moments later a long, sleek black limo pulled up and he emerged wearing a dark suit and sneakers and smiling and waving at the crowd. He looked at me then, and I smiled because you know, this was it. This was the moment. The one we’d someday tell our grandkids about. Then he turned away and smiled at the men who were preparing the cement and the moment was gone. He didn’t recognize me, in fact I’m not even sure he saw me.
So I took the pictures and put them in a keepsake box and decided it was time to move on. Maybe playing hard to get would teach him a thing or two. Or maybe not. I told this story to someone the other day and she was a little surprised. “You did that?” She asked.
Yeah. I did.
When you’re young and crazy and carefree and the worst thing you have to worry about is which party you’ll go to on Saturday night, life is the biggest adventure. We are probably never more present than when we do stuff on a whim or “just because.” I probably shouldn’t have taken time off from work to pursue some delusional fantasy, but you know what? Looking back on it, I’m glad I did. The best memories are the ones that were never planned, the things you did that just felt right in the moment. Do you have stories like this? I’d love to hear them. Crazy stuff you’ve done, snuck backstage or whatever. Do tell!
Oh, and Harrison, if you ever do come to your senses, you know where to find me.
Here’s some pics on Instagram from the day at Mann’s Chinese: