Sometimes something will happen that is so overwhelming strange and yet so “on the money” that we exclaim, “That’s weird!” Such as thinking of a friend you haven’t seen in years and then running into them the next day. On one such occasion I was told that “weird” means “fate” at it’s origin. I’ve never double-checked it, but it seems as if it could be true. It makes sense in some odd way. We all have those moments in life where we feel that everything does happen for a reason somehow, moments when we experience synchronicity. This happened to me watching “Tattered Dress.”
I had been pondering my first marriage one day… It seemed to be such a huge fourteen-year mistake. I was beating myself up for being such a fool for so long… I, of course, being me, a positive thinker, looked at all I had gained– three beautiful children, I met many interesting people, took many wonderful trips all over the world, threw lavish parties, acquired an outrageously a beautiful wardrobe, had an envied shoe collection, built a fantasy home… But over all, though I made the best of it always, it was a living Hell, empty of all of the real, true, deep, meaningful things I had hoped to experience in a relationship. I was a trophy wife trapped in a golden cage (At least it was golden! I’ve seen far worse in my day!) Three years ago, I flew from that cage and I have never looked back. But being me, I wanted to learn from this experience in order to be free from similar traps in my future life… I wondered, “Was my marriage a mistake? If I had it to do over again, would I?”
As I pondered, I searched my grandmother on You Tube. It’s so much fun to find clips of her, photos of her and old movies she is in I have and haven’t seen. Whenever I miss her, I do this. A part of her lives on for all of us to enjoy. (Though honestly it is only like having a carbon copy rather than the original.) On my search, I found “Tattered Dress.” I was so excited to find this treasure, as I hadn’t seen this movie since I lived on Neptune in Newport Beach with my dad as a kid. I could barely remember what it was about. I remember discovering the movie while organizing my father’s many video tapes. I had stood pondering the title written in his all-caps print… I asked my father about it and he said it was one of grandma’s movies, so I watched it. My dad had taped it off the television with his VCR– Remember those?
Years later, here I was, watching the first few minutes of “Tattered Dress” on my iPad, in which my grandmother ironically plays a divorcee. The house in the movie began to somehow feel familiar… I felt I had been in that house before. The location was actually supposed to be a small town in Nevada in the film, but something about the place kept whispering to me. I thought to myself, “Maybe it feels familiar because I saw this movie as a kid.”
Minutes later, I saw a shot that would have surely sent me falling out of my chair, if I had been sitting in one.
“That is my pool!” I called my children in and showed them. It was unmistakably our pool from our estate on Mulholland Drive where we had lived for a decade! It is a historic pool and incredibly unique. In fact, the architect who designed our house had tried to talk us into demolishing it until he saw it on the cover of a historical pool book. That was our pool for certain! There was no other like it, not in the whole world! We were all in amazement. The house and pool in the movie made in 1957 were virtually the same as the day we bought the property in 1999, except the diving boards had been taken out. (Darn lawyers mess up all the fun! Our insurance company didn’t let us put one in either, but we did add a waterfall and managed to sneak a slide in they never found out about!)
The pool was built in the shape of a clover leaf. It had a little bridge over the stem. You could actually swim into the house through the stem if you swam under the bridge. It also had an underground chamber that lead to a viewing room so that you could watch (or film) people swimming in the pool. I knew many films had been shot there, but I had no idea one of my grandmother’s movies had been shot there! I was stunned.
“That is so weird” I kept saying.
The kids were amazed. That was the house they grew up in. It was the only home they had ever known until I moved to Malibu three years ago.
I thought back to the day my now ex-husband and I looked at the house. We had been arguing about where to buy a house. I wanted the beach, but that was too far from his office in Hollywood, so I settled on living in the hills, only he insisted on the flats of the valley, which I couldn’t stand! So we had to find a house in the hills with a good deal of flat land, so that we were both happy. We had been looking at places in the valley all day, big stucco nightmares, and we were headed back home to Nichols Canyon, we were driving along Woodrow Wilson when I spotted an open house. Something in my gut said we HAD to go in that open house. We did… I wandered around the house thinking, “Well, I guess my gut was wrong.”
But it wasn’t!
The realtor, Arnon Raphael, told us about a pocket listing that wasn’t even on the market that would be perfect for us. He said that the neighbor next door to it had been trying to buy it, but that he had been very rude and underhanded in his dealings and he didn’t want to sell to the house him. He told us that he could show it to us the next day.
As soon as we drove down the driveway we looked straight at each other and KNEW! THIS IS THE HOUSE! My ex told me to pretend not to like it very much so that we could get a good price– He is a bargain hunter, I am not. But, I am an actress. (Hadn’t I acted happy for years and cried myself to sleep wondering why I was so terribly unhappy when I had so much… I wasn’t to find out until later my husband who I loved had a personality disorder rendering him incapable of the feelings I had for him.)
We walked around the property, it needed so much work, but we both knew this was our house. I remember walking into the house and having a vague feeling of familiarity with this property that I could not understand then, which I perfectly understand now. As the realtor talked, we began to realize that this house had so much history. The Rolling Stones had recorded in it, Bob Dylan I found out later, had, too, his son Jakob had had a meeting here and almost recorded there, there was a B-film maker who lived there and music producer named Don Was, Marlon Brando lived across the street as did Jack Nicolson and… THE POOL! It was the selling point. It was amazing.
We hit a glitch however when the subject of the next door neighbor came up… Arnon started to tell us about him and how awful he was and… Well, there is only one person in show business who my ex-husband HATES… The man who fired him from “The Simpsons.” Guess who the next door neighbor was? Yep! Richard Sakai. I had heard that name for years. It was enough to steer Gabor’s interest in the property for a moment, until Arnon told him how much Richard wanted the house. It was sold right then and there. For full price. (This is the only time I have EVER seen the man pay full price for anything!)
Over a decade later, after years of building our dream home and raising our children, while I was watching “Tattered Dress” in Malibu, I realized that maybe it was absolutely, for some god forsaken reason, FATE that I had married that crazy Hungarian. I thought how very strange that I had watched at nine years old, in my dad’s living room in Newport Beach, my future home where I was to raise my children for many years.
“How weird!” I kept saying.
I never knew the entire time I lived in that house that one of my grandmother’s films had been filmed there, but we had a home theatre in our dream home with a plaque engraved “Jeanne Crain’s Theatre.” Weird!
Since then I have never questioned my marriage and whether or not it was a mistake. I believe it was somehow fate. I believe our relationship just hit it’s expiration date (LONG before we separated.) It was meant to be for a while and it had it’s great moments and wonderful sides, too, but now it is meant to be done. Perhaps we expect too much out of marriage and expect it to last for far too long. There are just too many wonderful things to experience and people to meet and love to stay sipping at an empty cup. If more people would love life the way it is instead of trying to impose their will on the world and others, we would all be much happier. When it’s done, it’s done. Learn to recognize that, rather than hanging on to an empty pattern.
If you are in a relationship that feels like you are sipping out of an empty cup. It’s probably past the expiration date. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth while. It just means it had it’s time, it had it’s lessons and now it is time to move on to other times and other lessons (Do the lessons ever stop?!!!)
Maybe fate is “weird” sometimes… Well, I have a wicked sense of humor, so I can get most of the Big Guy’s jokes:)
I do know this however, I wouldn’t want to live through that relationship again, living as an owned and abused object, part of a collection of rare and beautiful things whose value is forgotten as soon as it is acquired, not for a billion dollars, not for all of the “interesting people” (some of who ended up being fake friends), not for all wonderful trips in the the world (no where is fun with the wrong person and a tent is fun with the right one, as long as we are talking glamping! Lol!), not for all the lavish parties, not for a million beautiful wardrobes (how quickly I got tired of a dress, as quick as some men tire of women!), not for a thousand shoe collections, not for any fantasy home (or cage)! And I think that means I learned my lesson! Thanks Gram Jeanne! Again.
Young girls out there: If you meet a charming man who is much too old for you who wants to take your hand, run! Though he offers you all the treasures of the world– you will end up older, having sold your youth and soul for a pile of junk. I walked away with myself and my three beautiful children, whom I would walk through hellfire for… (and I have. Big time! Hells I hope they will know nothing of…) But I would rather walk with them through Heaven on Earth with my true love.
Recently a friend came to visit me and as he was leaving he looked around at all the bikes and children’s toys in the front of my house. He turned and said to me, “I love this. This goes by fast. Enjoy it.”
I smiled, closed the door and cried… If only I had picked a father for my children like my friend, a man who GETS IT. Though I value my kids more than anything, it’s so hard to do it all alone. It’s hard not to have someone to share your children with and even harder to do it with someone who is and always was, whether I realized it or not, my enemy. The time I cried the hardest in my life was watching a movie where a couple very much in love were giving birth to their baby– That I would never know this joy almost killed me. That my children were not born into the world with that was devastating. Next time around, I will pick a man like my friend. A man who loves women and children. I hope any young girl reading this will chose more wisely than I did. (And young men, too! Pick someone worthy of you, who will truly love you. Nothing else is worth your precious time.)
That being said, my kids and I miss things about my old life that were taken away as punishment for leaving… I do miss my pool, but I can always watch “Tattered Dress” and remember the memories… Many wild parties with elephants and belly dancers, reindeer and penguins, my babies learning to swim and floating in total peace in the pool when no one was around….
Remembering that the very most important thing was not taken away from me… ME!
By the way, this is how the house looked after we re-built it… The famous pool almost completely in tact, except for the part that went into the house. That idea was re-worked by the architect, Alex Istanbulu.