Thursday, February 13, 2014

For 10 Minutes, I Was In Love. #IAMSORRY

Today, I went to the #IAMSORRY performance art that Shia LaBeouf was doing in Los Angeles.  I had read about it yesterday through a link someone posted on Facebook & was so impressed with how bizarre it was (and how close it was to me), I felt I HAD to go. When else are you going to get a chance to sit two feet in front of a celebrity & have the opportunity, one on one, to connect or go berserk on him? I got up at 6 am this morning, left at 7:15, & drove to Beverly Blvd.  It took about an hour and a half to get there, I parked, & was in line with about 10 other people.  I sat there, while putting my makeup on and watched as more and more people slowly trickled in. I listened to the conversations about why he could be doing it, how was he doing it, why were WE doing it. I chimed in, laughed, joked, and made friends around me with the others who were just as curious about this whole thing as I was. So many people in line, ahead of me, had already gone and seen him the previous days but were so befuddled by their experience that they had to return to either thank Shia or attempt to make some sense of it all. I would say there was more concern for his well being, overall, among those who were there, than anything else.

After some long hours (my back hurt, I had to pee, was annoyed by line cutters/spot savers, & I was starving), around 3:45 I finally got the okay to go in. The guard at the front of the gallery told me to go inside and speak to the woman at the table that had a series of props on it & that she would take me to Shia.  I walked in and placed on the table were a variety of objects: a Transformers figurine, a bottle of cologne, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a vase with flowers, a bowl of hateful tweets about LaBeouf, a bowl of Hershey Kisses, an Indiana Jones whip, a pink ukulele, etc etc. I picked some flowers out of the vase and followed the lady behind a curtain.  We walked along the corridor and she explained that it would just be me and Shia and there was no photography or video allowed (I didn't care). She pulled back the brown curtain and there he sat at a rickety, small brown table with the "I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE" paper bag over his head.

I pulled out the chair and sat down. I looked at the eyes that peered back at me through the cut out holes, "Hi Shia" (silence) "I'm Jenn" (silence) "I waited almost 7 hours to see you and I really have to pee." (silence) At this point, I stopped thinking and just felt -- and because of this, the words poured out of me with so much sincerity and vulnerability that I started to cry. I told him I didn't know why I was crying but when I looked up, he was starting to tear up, too. I told him I didn't care what others had told him previously or what others would say after me. I didn't care if this was a publicity stunt or an actor trying to hone his craft. Because right there, right then, it was me and him. "This is just me and you and I may never see you again, but this is our moment. And in this moment, I love you because I know you feel how I feel right now." He started gasping in between more intense tears. You could see the pain in this person's eyes. My tears were streaming down my face and I asked him if he would take his bag off for me. He obliged by grabbing the bag with ferocity and throwing it the ground with such intensity that I was taken aback by it. He immediately grabbed my hand with both of his. We stared at each other, holding hands for a moment. "I thought about this a lot yesterday. About what I would tell you, but all I can think of telling you right now is that, to be human is to be flawed. Your humanity is beautiful and nothing else matters." He squeezed my hand tightly and with his thumb, caressed the top of my hand. It made me fall apart. I put my head down and started crying again & he took my hand with both of his and squeezed tightly.

 I looked up and told him I had something for him. He looked surprised. I opened one of my sketchbooks that I brought and pulled out the very first self portrait I did at the beginning of the hardest time in my life. I placed it before him and he looked down, with his mouth slightly ajar and just stared. The look on his face was as if I had just gifted him a Picasso painting. It made me feel amazing. I explained to him the things in the piece and he listened, never looking away from it. When he finally looked up, I said, "Now that I've shared tears with you, I want to share a smile with you". His face lit up. He gave me the biggest smile and I smiled my biggest smile back and we held hands again. We stared and smiled at each other for a minute or so. I then asked him if he would mind if I took a photo of our hands to remember our moment. (silence) I waited a moment to make sure it was okay and shaking, I took a photo of our hands atop of the piece I gifted to him. I pulled the phone back to get a photo of him and made a joke about how I call myself a photographer but because I was shaking and taking the photo with my left hand, I couldn't even manage to take a photo with my phone. It made him laugh, which is what I caught in the photo.

I set my phone down on the table & asked him softly if I could hug him. He bolted upwards and we embraced. It was the best hug I've had in.. I can't remember. It was the type of hug that every hug should be. His suit felt scratchy against me and he smelt slightly musky (sitting there for as long as he was, it was pretty understandable). He put his hand against the back of my head and pressed me into him more, gently stroking my hair. I did the same to him & softly said, "You are not alone. You are not alone. So many people understand what you're feeling." I pulled away and he sat down, grabbing my hand and putting it to his lips, kissing it. He kissed my hand hard and lovingly maybe.. 25-30 times, all the while looking me in the eyes. I smiled and touched his face and leaned down a bit. I told him I wanted him to go home tonight and look in the mirror and show that person in his reflection the same amount of love he showed me. Shia looked me in the eyes and put his hand on my chest, where my heart was; I put my hand over his hand. He stood up and he kissed my cheek, towards the corner of my mouth. We hugged again. I started to tear up again and told him I didn't want to go, but felt the people outside would kill me if I took longer than 10 minutes with him and I didn't want to be selfish and take more time. I gave him back the flowers and he sat back down. I bent down and picked up the Berlin bag and handed it to him. He smiled. He grabbed my hand again and kissed it again. I smiled and told him to remember what I said and that I would remember this for the rest of my life. And thank you. His eyes said so much and not once did he speak. I got the feeling he didn't want me to go -- in all honesty, I didn't want to either. He didn't let go of my hand til I turned and walked as far as he could hold it. I left.

My experience was one of a kind. Unmatched. And truly human. It was never "awkward" or "uncomfortable", like everyone says it is. It felt natural. Comfortable. And honest. I don't care what opinion people have of him or his career. I don't care what people think of this entire "performance art" he's doing. It doesn't matter if what he's "sorry" for is relevant or not. In those 10 minutes, I fell in love with someone I NEVER IN MY LIFE thought I would ever connect to. I can't stop thinking about what happened today. In all honesty, I'm still trying to process everything that happened in that short time together. It was raw, sad, loving, and above all, human. It was beautiful. I've read & heard a lot of experiences that others have shared with him, but I can't help think mine was truly unique. I am lucky to have shared this with such an extraordinary human being. And this warm, loving, unexpected, and real experience will be one I will remember for the rest of my life.