THROUGH THE FIRE: Spontaneity and Other Dilemmas



By Sharon Yamato


Last Satur­day, as I was watching Oregon slam the UCLA Bruins by scoring three touchdowns in four minutes, I was al­most glad to hear the phone ring. I was surprised to hear my faraway friend Donna’s voice. She was at the Philadelphia airport on her way to the “red carpet” world premiere of her film “Pope Joan” which was being held in the prestigious film city of Berlin.

More than 10 years ago, Donna had sat on her computer in a little cubicle in my home in Marina del Rey while on vacation, pounding out line after line of a book that was to become a bestseller in Germany—and now a major motion picture. After seven or so years of writing briefly here and at her home in Syracuse, N.Y., Donna had seen her way through film company after film company, director after director, and star after star, for 10 more years, to finally get to this exciting point in her book’s life. Back when the story was only on white 8 1/2 x 11 paper, we had joked about this day. We both imagined we would look stunningly gorgeous on the red carpet, never thinking that this moment would really come. Now, 20 years older, several pounds heavier, and hundreds of grey hairs later, we were two middle-to-old-aged ladies. The thought of all that glamour sounded more ridiculous than ever.

The reason for Donna’s call was simple: she wanted me to fly to Berlin to meet her. No problem, I thought. “The film premiere is next Monday,” she went on to say, in her most alluring temptress voice. She was asking me to drop everything, find a flight that wouldn’t exhaust my meager savings, pack my bags to fly out of the country—all in a mere seven days! I was flabbergasted. Even though my somewhat busy calendar and empty pocketbook were flashing before my eyes, I wanted to say right then and there—of course!

However, I am not a spontaneous person. My life is about plodding and planning everything. When I go on a trip, I pack one week early so as not to forget anything. I sit at my desk with my calendar in front of me at all times where I have carefully scrawled every event on every day for the next six months. I write lists and check them twice. I always strive to be Girl Scout prepared.

In this case, there was another big stumbling block. I had already planned a trip to San Francisco with five of my girlfriends to run the Nike Half Marathon the day before the premiere. Could I possibly get from San Francisco to Berlin in 24 hours? Or should I cancel the trip to which I had committed with my friends (including a two-night hotel stay that they would now have to share themselves). Going to this premiere would take more planning and finagling than I, the great planner, felt I had the time and energy to do.

So I did what every sane person would do in today’s age. I put my dilemma up on my Facebook page: “To go or not to go to Berlin… that is the question.” The answer from my community of friends: a resounding yes. The only thing stopping me was me. I lay awake at night thinking of all the reasons I shouldn’t go, and all the things I had to do if I dared to go. I woke up exhausted and tired. Like most JAs, I wanted to please everyone, but I also wanted to do things my way. It’s a precarious place for anyone, much less an indecisive person like me.

I turned to the airline gods for an answer. It was all about finding a cheap flight. After surfing the web for days, I was shocked to find a frequent flyer ticket that made sense. Barring the cost of last-minute fees, I could fly to Europe for the same amount it would take to fly to San Francisco. And on top of all that, I found a flight that allowed me to go to San Francisco and Berlin. I was feeling spoiled, but it was clear that the stars were all aligned.

So tomorrow morning I leave for San Francisco to run a half marathon in the morning, return home that afternoon at 3, catch an evening flight to Paris. I arrive in Paris the following day to connect to a plane headed for Berlin and will get there two hours before the premiere starts. I will no doubt be bleary-eyed, but having never acted so impetuously before, I’m not really sure how I’ll feel. Perhaps a lot of Tylenol PM followed by 5-Hour Energy will help.

I can’t help but think that I’m pretty lucky to have a job that allows me the freedom to take a few days off, a mate encouraging me to go, and no one depending on me. Still, I hope that I don’t live to regret this adventure in spontaneity. From where I sit now, it sure sounds fun. It may be just the thing this old lady needs to spark an otherwise dull life. Wish me (more) luck!


Sharon Yamato writes from Playa del Rey. She can be reached at [email protected] The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


1 Comment

  1. I’m the notorious friend Donna referred to in Sharon’s column. And I’m delighted to say that she came to the premiere, and of course added a LOT of elegance–and fun!– to the Red Carpet experience.

    As any of her readers know, Sharon is a class act. I am sooooo fortunate to have her as my dear, dear friend of (ahem) almost 40 years! (by the way, she’s much more beautiful in person than she is in this column photo.

    Thanks to all who encouraged Sharon to come. The whole event would not have been the same without her!

    Donna Woolfolk Cross

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