In the summer of 2016, a friend of mine had saved up enough money to make the big move to California. This was something he had planned on doing for a while, and something I always wanted to eventually join in with him on doing. So the night before leaving he had a large going away party, and as he dropped me off at my house that night, he asked me:
“What would you say if I came and picked up you tomorrow, and you came with me?”
Never had I thought before that I could just up and change my life like that, with one swift decision. Of course I had already dropped out of college, and wasn’t really held down to where I was living by a job or anything important, nor was I even doing anything with my life. All of my friends in that area weren’t doing anything with theirs either, so if I was gonna do it, THAT was the time to go for it. So I called various members of my family asking what they would do in my situation, and at the end of the night, I texted my friend to pick me up in the morning.
We drove for 18 plus hours. He didn’t have a radio or an iPod jack, so I burnt CD’s to play from my laptop as we were driving. About three hours out of LA we got a flat tire. Thankfully we met a nice guy at a local gas station who knew literally everything about cars, and helped put our doughnut wheel on. We ended up having to drive down a very, very long road in an opposite direction, not able to go over 50 because we were too afraid the thing might pop on us. Eventually we did get a new tire, and made it to LA.
We spend the first day at the beach, just enjoying our successful journey. We slept in our car. The second day we kicked it into high gear, and scrounged the depths of Craigslist for any kind of cheap place to rent. We probably called about thirty different places. Most of them were already taken, or out of our price range. And most of them you actually needed to have a job. So, a couple days in and my friend realized he had made too rash a decision on coming here. We had a pretty heated discussion, and he ended up leaving, while I stayed in LA.
I managed to stay for about a month on what little cash I had. Thankfully I had a lot of friends in the area, and crashed between their couches week by week as I waited for CBS to get back to me on a job. I would walk around the city during the day, applying to various theaters and stores around the area. I think I only heard back from two of them. I even auditioned for Groundlings, and got accepted into their program. Of course, it’s $500 just for the first twelve classes, so I never pursued that. Eventually I ran short on money, and I started feeling really shitty having to rely on my friends for a place to keep my stuff and my body to sleep. So I called up my grandma, and told her I needed to come home.
The day before I left I decided to go to the LA Zoo, just to really enjoy myself at least one more time while I had the chance. It was a very peaceful and relaxing experience, one that reminded me of all the good times I had as a child. I’ve always loved animals, but something about this day really helped solidify that for me. Because it’s so easy to get caught up in the stress of finances, or fighting to make a life that in the end, you might not really want. Especially when all that matters is if you’re happy.
So my grandma drove ALL the way down to California, just to pick me up from Hollywood Blvd. We stayed in a hotel that night, then drove all the way back to Washington the next. I don’t think there’s anybody in my life I could ever love more than my grandmother.
Now I’ve been living with her for the past ten months in a very small town out in the middle of nowhere. We’ve got a cat, and Netflix, and a lot of home cooked meals that I hadn’t had in the last seven years. I still get pretty anxious every now and then, when I realize just how far I am from what I want to be doing with my life, and all of the people I actually know and want to work with. Everyone in this town is either in high school, or an old lady. Sometimes I feel like this is some sort of prison, like I’m meant to be here to learn something. And other times I think it’s actually paradise.
Every night for a while now, my grandma and I have been watching The Andy Griffith show on Netflix while we eat dinner. It all started because I was whistling the theme song one day, and my grandma asked if I had ever seen the show. I told her I had no idea what she was talking about, and then it turned out this tune I had always known was actually from a very old television show. So we decided to watch it.
It’s impossible not to fall in love with this show.
At first I thought the black and white was going to put me off, because as a child I had always related that to boring old silent films or stupid grown-up stuff. But as I watched, episode after episode, I quickly became enamored with the world of Mayberry.
The titular Andy Griffith is the perfect father we always wanted. Every episode involves him and whatever shenanigans the townsfolk get into, usually instigated by his deputy Barney Fife (played by Don Knotts), who happened to be a very close friend with Andy in real life.
This chemistry is very, very evident from start to finish. The two play off of each other better than most people do in actual conversation. They exemplify the meaning of “best friends”, something I’ve only seen between a few of the people I know. In fact, I began seeing a lot of myself and that friend who I went to LA with in Andy and Barney.
And that’s what the show is really all about: being real, honest living people. It’s about a time where you didn’t have to lock your doors, or watch your children as they played. You didn’t have to worry about living couch to couch, getting rent, or finding a job, because the guy down the street could pay you ten bucks just to mow his lawn. It wasn’t illegal to start a lemonade stand in front of your house, or socially awkward to just say hello to a neighbor.
It seems to me that with the growing connection and necessity of technology, we’ve slowly become less and less open with our own actual lives. While we’ll gladly spread our faces around across the internet, most people are too afraid to give a friendly hello to a random stranger across the street.
Almost every episode of the Andy Griffith Show has taught me something valuable. Whether or not it was something I already knew is irrelevant, the fact that these values can be solidified in show form so elegantly is where the magic comes from. Just watching the first season of the show, I suddenly had an entirely new outlook on the way life works. I’ve become a lot more humble, and honest, and real about myself.
I respect things more, and can genuinely find value in just sitting and watching the birds. That’s something that a lot of people seem to forget.
It’s true that we’re not here forever, but there’s no need to rush to the finish line.
Sometimes you’ve just gotta sit back and look. Just look. That’s all.
Just look, and think about who you are, or how you might affect other people.
Because that’s not something that’s taught in school, not even in college.
Unless you take some high ranking philosophy classes of course.
I honestly believe that everyone should be made to watch The Andy Griffith Show. At least as a kid, if not moreso as an adult.
You’ll learn something different depending on your age.
It’s kind of funny actually, as the show gets on towards the last few seasons it slowly looses its “down home” charm. It becomes more of a sitcom around season 7, and changes from black and white into color.
It still has some occasional winning episodes after that, but for the majority it really is a downhill slope. It’s probably because they got rid of Don Knotts.
His entire character is written off after season 7. There are a few golden episodes later on where he does come back, but they just make you miss the guy even more.
It’s like the producers tried to make it into something more than it already was, maybe to appeal to a larger audience perhaps? They started getting goofy plots, and wacky sitcom situations. There was even one where they literally “Go to Hollywood”.
Much like my experience in going to Hollywood.
But that’s the funny thing about it. That show was already fine where it was.
Some of the best episodes of that show are the earlier black and white ones, the ones that had actual character, and charm.
There was no need to change it.
I think this entire country could learn a lot from watching Andy Griffith.