Spending the weekend near Hollywood is a lot like being a hypochondriac in a hospital. The concentration of stars is so much greater than in any other city that after just a short time walking along Sunset Blvd you can’t help but do a couple double takes of people along the street, thinking for just an instant that they look like someone famous. I suppose that because I was well aware of this, I was a bit hesitant to give people second looks while we out and about this weekend. However, as we sat down for lunch in a small café on Saturday I found myself glancing at a girl two tables away who was facing me, though her face was partially blocked by the shoulder of someone sitting opposite her. I wondered, “Could it be? It sort of looks like her.” But not wanting to be that Hollywood hypochondriac, I tried to settle back into the conversation at the table and let it go. In the end it was a losing battle. I whispered to the others at the table and after a “strategic” bathroom break, my friend Jordan returned and announced to us, “Yep, that’s Jessica Simpson alright.”
And now the question is – what do you do? Do you go up and ask her for her autograph? Do you walk up to her and say hi? Do you just continue staring at her? Do you pretend you don’t notice her and try to be as normal as you can? With silent agreement, we opted for the last choice, figuring that it was probably the most preferred one and the most polite. Thinking about it now, I realize that regardless of what I did do, what I really wanted to do was just stand up and sit down next to Jessica (I’m sure it would soon be “Jes”) and start talking to her. The reason being that after watching several seasons of Newlyweds on MTV and countless interviews with her, something in me felt like I knew her. No, no, hold the restraining orders please. As fanatical as that sounds as I type it, I have a sense that it all comes back to the reality of relationship.
Relationship at its most basic level is nothing more, nothing less, than shared experiences. Sharing the same “El” platform waiting for a train puts me in some sort of relationship with another person. However apparently remote or self-evident, however unacknowledged, it’s always common experience that places us in relationship to each other. What happens with celebrities, especially those from reality television, is that we feel that by watching their lives we are sharing experiences with them. We feel that we know them. At some level we feel that we have some relationship with them, when in fact we’re merely unconnected observers.
That reality hits me hard. In the weeks since we moved to San Diego and before I’ve started working at the hospital, my schedule has been inconsistent. I’m running around doing all sorts of little miscellaneous tasks, but I’ve felt unsettled, restless, and just sort of “off” much of the time. I’ve been disconnected with everything, finding little solace in a world that seems foreign. What I seem to have forgotten, in part, is that God is really here, sharing these experiences with me. Infinite Mystery is not a detached observer, but a relational partner, sharing in my exhaustion at the end of a hard run, my anxiety in starting a new job, my joy in pausing to remember my friends from CPE. Nor am I a detached observer in this Spirit-filled world, but a real participant in ongoing creation, building emotional bonds, touching nature, making meaning. To share these experiences with God is to be in real relationship.
Sorry I didn’t get the autograph for you Les or the sweet photo for you Anthony, but what I got from Jessica - insight into the reality of relationship, was far more valuable. And for all of you in the Chicagoland area who want to see a (soon to be) famous actor in person, check out Joe Sikora in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline from 9/1 – 11/11/07 at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. He might even let you buy him a beer after the show and get to know him in person!