Wednesday, August 8, 2007

You'll Be Alright

You'll Be Alright
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

You’ll Be Alright

My very first “serious” girlfriend used to work at Merry Mart, one of the few boutiques in town that sold parochial school uniforms.

For whatever strange reason I can visualize the discreet windowless storefront on the corner of Washington and Newhall quite vividly.

I remember the back storeroom even better.

But then again, after the first time we had sex, in a show room at my father’s furniture store, I can picture a lot of things about where and when and her quite well. Sex has seemingly been the grappling hooks of my memory to everything ever since.

Everything from the shag rug in her parents basement, the back of my car while parked on the street at the beach, my bedroom the night I went away to college, and her dorm room the night I knew it was all over.

And even though I knew it was all over, it didn’t stop me from believing it wasn’t. Abjured, spurned and dismayed, for years to come I found myself secretly yearning, pining, if only alone, nonetheless. She was my first lost love, and after I got over it, I vowed that it would be my last.

She broke up with me two weeks before my 17th birthday, a little more than two months after I had left our hometown in Northern California to move down south to a much bigger town—Los Angeles.

I distinctly remember how my new friends tried to cheer me up.

On my birthday, a group of us went and saw the action film To Live and Die in LA. Although my heart was heavy at the time, the irony of the movie title allowed me to let go a little, to laugh a little at myself and my sorrowful situation. It was as if the muses were telling me “Lighten up, Francis.”

Still, even than, it wasn’t easy at first. I moped for a couple of weeks and seemingly people noticed.

Then, one morning I woke up at 5 AM to go down to the dormitory’s cafeteria for my work-study job serving dry scrambled eggs and even drier pancakes to my classmates. Knowing I would have to wear a hairnet made me even more depressed.

Right above the elevator button someone had anonymously posted an advertisement for the film Lost in America, starring Albert Brooks. The promo had a picture of the film’s protagonist with his head buried in the sand, much like an ostrich, and had written in red above it “You’ll be alright, Lorenzo,” with an arrow pointing downward.

Not long after seeing that, I not only found myself a new job, but also a new girlfriend.


22 years later, I still have the newspaper clipping in an old scrapbook, tucked away somewhere in the attic of my house in Jersey.

I often think about that picture whenever I find myself in a tough situation, because I know that after 40 years of living, the last 15 of them spent living and loving and working in the toughest city in the world, I know that “You’ll be alright, Lorenzo” is absolutely true.

“Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.”
—Mary Schmich, Columnist, Chicago Tribune—


(R&O thank you for the inspiration)

Rose, Olive & Me

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