I can’t even pretend to be in the right kind of headspace to claim that I could really remember any last minute changes that were made to the script today. I mean...they weren’t major changes that were made to completely rearrange the whole zombie apocalypse game plan that everybody had in place for the rest of the season...mostly just being a few one-liners or a random tightening up of the dialogue...but it was enough to have me worried about what I was going to have to work with in terms of delivery and trying to emote and get the right expressions and tone of voice down before the cameras started rolling. And that was AFTER having to drill every last word into my head and memorize it within the next thirty minutes or so. If anybody tries to tell you that being an actor is easy...they are either lying to you, or just happen to be some sort of prodigy. I’ve already got too much on my mind to function like a rational human being in most situations...and now I’ve got to work on convincingly bringing an entirely different personality to life on top of it without causing the people at home to cringe at my lackluster acting ability. I’m not exactly Al Pacino over here, you know?
My mom handed me the new script, the rewritten pages in blue so I could concentrate on them a bit more, while still trying to keep my older lines in tact. It was already beginning to make my head hurt.
“Do you want to go back to your trailer and practice, hon?” My mom asked. “We can go through the older scenes as well as the new ones...get everything down pat?”
“I...I uhhh...” My brain felt as though it was being overwhelmed by way too many distractions at once. It was giving me an instant headache.
“What is it? Evan? Talk to me.” My mom said. She was so proud of me, and she only wanted the best of me. She believed in my dream to do this when nobody else would. How could I let her down by losing my marbles at a crucial moment like this?
“I’m ok. I just...I wish they’d leave the script the way it is for the show, you know? The way I practiced it.”
With a sympathetic look, she said, “I know, sweetie. But you know how this business is. They’re constantly changing and rearranging things for the best possible presentation. Even if it’s last minute.” She lifted my chin to look her in the eye...trying to both be understanding of my side of the situation while still attempting to give me the strength and the encouragement to keep moving forward, regardless. “We’ll give it a shot, ok? Just you and me. And if it turns out to be a bit much, we can talk to the director of this episode and see if we can work something out. Deal?”
“Yeah...I guess...” I replied, already feeling defeated inside.
Looking on the bright side, she told me, “It looks like you’ve got more lines in these sides than you did before. I was reading it, and there’s some more character development there...” While she was talking, I began to think about Greyson again. About him wrapping up his film shoot, moving back home...and then possibly going on tour to the other side of the whole freaking planet, while I sat back here in the States all alone...without his smile. Without his kiss. Without his sex.
God...how can I miss somebody who’s still here? At least for now.
“I think your interviews and current media presence has gotten a hold of a lot of people’s attention. Look at your numbers right here. They’re going through the roof. You gained nearly two hundred new subscribers since this morning. Isn’t that crazy?” I know that she was trying to cheer me up...but I kept thinking about the fact that I might be losing my boyfriend soon. And I looked down at the revamped script in my hand, worried that I wouldn’t be able to focus enough to learn my new lines and say them in any believable way. Do you know how embarrassing it is to have all of the other, more experienced, actors around you delivering their lines and bringing their emotional ‘A’ game to a scene, only to have you flub a line or screw up the whole scene and have to start all over again? It’s a heartbreaking situation, believe me.
“Yeah. Crazy.” I said softly, still kind of drifting off into my own chaotic world full of angst and soul crushing problems that I couldn’t seem to navigate my way around any longer.
“The girls will be chasing behind our car soon if you keep this up. You rank pretty high on their new biggest crush list according to a few of these online magazines. Apparently, you’re one of those pretty faces to look out for in the future.” She grinned, and pinched my cheeks, giving me a quick kiss and causing me to blush from the open display of affection.
“Jesus, Mom...” I grunted.
“Oh hush! You know you love it!” She laughed. But when her phone went off and she reached for it to check her messages and all to keep my schedule straight, I couldn’t help but to feel the pressure of the script and of Greyson weighing heavily on my shoulders. And then...as I turned around to try to catch my breath as I began to softly pant from the stress of it all...I happened to notice Chandler and Asa on the edge of the set. Chandler was smiling, and he cupped his hand to whisper something into Asa’s ear, causing his gigantic blue eyes to open wide, and they both shared a few chuckles between one another. Were they talking about what I THINK they were talking about? Noooo! Don’t TELL him! That’s SO not fair!
My Mom kept talking on the phone, and I felt my stomach fluttering, my breath getting shorter and shorter until I was weak in the knees. What’s happening to me? This feels weird. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way before...is this a serious thing? Do I need help? I think...I think I’m getting dizzy.
I looked off to the side of the set, and ‘Meagan’ was there, waving at me. And I could see ‘Nate’ standing next to his mother, staring at me and also waving with his rainbow bracelet displayed proudly on his wrist. Then, one of the production assistants came over and told me they’d be ready for me to get my positioning and lighting reads in about twenty minutes or so. And my mom was on the phone. And Chandler and Asa were still whispering. And I thought about Greyson. And the director was getting his coffee ready. And the cranes and cameras were being put into place….
...Oh God! Oh God! This is too much! I’m...I think that I’m...oh man...I am not ok right now! NOPE! I’m not ok!
I started to quickly walk away from everything and hurry back to my tiny trailer on the side of the set, and my mom caught me trying to make a rather hasty ‘escape’, so she told whoever she was talking to on the phone, “Wait, wait...let me get back to you a bit later, ok?” And without taking no for an answer, she hung up and came rushing after me. Now, my trailer isn’t really all that big, but I began to pace back and forth inside of it while trying to catch my breath. Even if it was only two and a half steps in each direction. I could faintly hear my mom telling some of the other people on set to give me a minute, and she got them to back off before she entered the trailer and closed the door behind her. “Evan? Baby, talk to me, ok? Take a seat. Seriously...sit down.”
I took her advice, and sat down on the small bed that I had next to me. It kept me from pacing, but did little to calm me down. When she asked me what was wrong...I really had no idea what to tell her. None. As if I didn’t have enough turbulent, soul crushing, pressure on my fragile teenage mind right now...I’m going to try to tackle the terrifying issue of possibly ‘coming out’ to my MOM too? Like...right NOW?
Fuck that! My sanity can only handle so much at once.
I was staring down at my feet when I mumbled the words out loud...but despite the utter humiliation of having to verbally admit such a childish demand out loud...I said it anyway. “Mom...I don’t think I can do this today. I wanna go home.”
Ugh! I shouldn’t have said it. I surrendered to weakness and just obliterated myself, sacrificing a significant piece of my lifelong dream for the sake of a few moments where I might be able to find some peace of mind. It hardly felt like an equal trade.
“Evan? Honey? If you want me to take you out of here right now...I’ll do it. You know I will.” My mom said. “But you’ve worked so hard to get where you are right now. If you turn your back on this now...chances are that you won’t ever get it back. They’ll make sure of that.”
The emotion getting caught up in the back of my throat, I told her, with a trembling voice, “I don’t know what to do, Mom. I feel like this is too much.” I said. “I’m just a kid. And I WANT to do this, I really do...but...I feel like I’ve got so many other things going on with me right now.” I sniffled sadly. “I don’t want to let anybody down...I just...”
“Hey!” She said, petting the hair on my head. “You won’t be letting anybody down by asking for some time to get your brain untangled. Ok? You hear me?”
“I know, Mom. But...”
“NO ‘buts’!” She insisted. “You mean more to me than any of this Hollywood bullshit, you hear me? Say the word, and I’ll drive the both of us off of this lot right now. We’ll deal with contract obligations later. None of that matters to me. You matter to me. And if you decide that you want to point that passion of yours in a different direction, then that’s where I’ll be. Right there, supporting you every step of the way.” She was very aggressive in letting me know that she was being serious when she said it like that. And I could take some comfort in that. I really could.
But...unfortunately...when it comes to entertaining other people...you’re not really allowed to have a bad day.
A bad day means a lot of bad press, a lot of money wasted, and a poor performance that die hard “Walking Dead” fans will totally roast you for on every public forum that they can gain access to. Not to mention that show business is very short on loyalty, but very LONG on grudges. Letting these multiple attacks on my heart and soul right now could cost me everything. Would it be worth it? Will all of that time and energy and hard work to get where I am have been wasted?
I don’t know. Dark and depressing feelings and insecurities aside...I don’t want to give up on my life’s passion for it. You know?
“I’ll be alright...” I said, quietly. Avoiding her eyes while trying to keep myself from violently shaking with anxiety. “...Promise.”
“I promise, Mom. Ok?” I said again. “I was just...having a moment. Ok? I’m gonna look at the new lines in the script and try to learn them as fast as I can. Then I’ll be back on set in a little bit.”
Feeling a bit helpless about my current state of mind, she said, “Do you want me to run through the dialogue with you? Sometimes it helps to have another voice in the room when you’re...”
“I’ll be fine.” I said, interrupting her and trying to get a few extra moments of isolation to get my thoughts straight before trying to rebuild a decent mask of normality so I could go out there and perform the duties of my ‘job’ without screwing things up for everybody else.
After all...my first real fans, Meagan and Nate, are watching. And watching closely, I might add. I could at least put on a decent show for them, if not myself. Right?
How would they feel, having some of the very first autographs that I had ever given out to anybody...only to watch me flop and flounder around on camera like a total amateur? You know...even if I AM a total amateur! They’re expecting me to be something more than that. They went out of their way to tell me so. And if that isn’t the greatest incentive imaginable to bring a total sugar rush to whatever skill and acting ability I have lying dormant within me...it would be the support of the fans who believe that it’s there.
It still sounds so incredibly weird to even think that about myself. Still kinda cool, though. Wow...
My mom reached out to caress the side of my face, which sort of hit me in the feels something awful, especially when she started getting a bit teary eyed herself. It felt good. Just knowing that she was making a valiant effort to understand what I was going through, even when I was refusing to give her a majority of the puzzle pieces that would make my current mood make much more sense in the long run. But she just kissed my forehead, and looked at me with a melancholy smile. “You come and give me a tap on the shoulder if you want to talk about anything. Ok, Evan?” She said.
“I will.” I said.
“Anything, Evan. I mean it.” She demanded. “The day that you decide that you want to walk away from all of this? We walk away. You and me both. Don’t you dare doubt it. Not for a minute.”
Feeling a bit vulnerable, but a lot more relaxed, I leaned forward and hugged my mom tight. “Thanks, Mom...”
“Shhhh...it’s ok, honey. You just go out there and do what you can. And whatever you can’t? We’ll handle it on our own. Alright?”
“If I ever get rich doing this, I’ll buy you a big house in the hills. Hehehe, promise.” I said.
“Baby...the kind of pride that I have in you right now...money can’t buy. So save it for a rainy day.”
One of the assistants came knocking on the door, and he said, “Evan? We’re ready to set you up for blocking and lighting. Are you good, or do you need more time?”
It depressed me a bit to do it, but I had to worm my way out of my mother’s loving embrace and get my head back in the game. “Just a minute or two, k? I’ll be right there.” I called out to him, and he agreed to pass the message on to the director and the production team. When I looked at my mom again, it almost seemed as if she didn’t want to let me go. I think she really was contemplating just leaving this whole thing behind us, tossing up a middle finger as the set disappeared in our rearview mirror. But...like I said...I didn’t work this hard for an opportunity like this one to give up on it now. I had to keep going. When you’re an actor, a writer, a singer...or any kind of a dedicated artist at all...there are no days off. You don’t get sick leave. You don’t get eight hours of sleep every night. And you certainly don’t get an emotional hiatus from what you claim to be so passionate about. You’ve just got to dig your heels in and keep going. Persevere. And hope that it will have all been worth it when the finished product is all over and done with.
I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed pretty tightly on that last part.
My mom left me to rehearse my new lines and get them to sound as authentic as I could possibly could within the short amount of time that I was given to work with, and she was right. They actually were adding a lot of depth and nuance to my character on the show. In fact, I had almost as many lines as Asa and Chandler did. Was that their doing? Or were the different directors and producers seeing more of a future for me on the show than I could have ever expected? I mean...this whole ‘fame’ thing can be really hard to figure out sometimes. You can’t really gauge it from one day to another and expect the same results from the show’s fanbase. It’s a highly tense balancing act that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. But...again...
It’s still kinda cool to be a certified celebrity. At least in the eyes of a few people. That’s new for me. Hehehe!
When I stepped out of my trailer, all of the zombie extras and everything had already been through make-up and wardrobe for the day. I didn’t envy them at all...having to wear all of those layers and torn rags and prosthetics...but they were definitely champions about it all. God bless them! Hehehe, Lord knows that I wouldn’t be half as graceful, being asked to wear all of that shit for the sake of a daily shoot. Those folks need a raise. Or, like...a zombie party! Hell, I’d go!
But as I was trying to repeat my newly learned lines of dialogue in my head on my way to the set, thoughts of Greyson began to plague me all over again, and I found this deep yearning to talk to him again. Like...I know that I was going to ask my mom to take me to his hotel after we wrapped for the afternoon...but I just wanted to hear his voice, you know? I felt like I really needed to be close to him again, even if it was only electronically.
Ugh! No. I should focus. I should do my best to nail this role and get my lines out so the directors can continue to have faith in me. No matter what I might be going through, offset. That’s the best plan to have right now, right?
Ugh...why does this hurt so much? Greyson and me? We’re FINE! We laugh, we love, we lust, for one another in the most intimate ways possible. And its not like this is some kind of a random surprise that sucker punched me in the stomach out of the blue. We both knew that this moment was coming.
The moment when we might actually have to be separated for an extended period of time, over a seemingly unfathomable distance. But neither one of us wanted to surrender to the painful reality of it, you know? We were too busy enjoying the moment. The blissful fury of young love in its most potent form.
But as I saw Chandler and Asa finish getting dusted and brushed with their cosmetics, walking towards me with a knowing grin, I realized that my wild fantasies of an exclusive celebrity boyfriend might be just as unreachable as it was when I firt saw Greyson Chance on Youtube and fell in love with him to begin with.
Then...and more and more, every moment since.
I love you, Greyson. I really do. I just wish I could find a way to keep you for myself...