Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The End

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Since I was leaving the DR on Friday, R suggested I come by the set for Angie's last day of shooting.

I met my DR BFF Organic on the sidewalk outside the Sofitel and we walked the few cobbled blocks of the Zona Colonial to the set. She was another crew girlfriend. Three of us had bonded around the pool and were spending our days exploring the DR countryside together, talking about our relationships and giving one another tools to this very unusual world.

A guard stopped me as I tried to duck under the yellow tape separating the public from the lights and cameras.

“We are with the crew?”

The guard pinched his brow and pointed to the other side of the tape.

“No really, we are with the guys that know the guys that wouldn’t have a problem with us being on set.”

He didn’t look amused.

“Okay, I’ll just wait over here.”

Organic and I humbly took our place with the other onlookers. She picked up the cell to call her Boyfriend, Gordon. We could see him standing inches away from the camera lens, pulling focus for the DP. But before Gordon had a chance to pick up, R was there. Tapping me on my shoulder.

“Hey there.”

His tone sent shivers down my spine. I turned around and drunk him up in a long hug.

He gave me a quick peck and pulled Organic and I through the crowd and under the divider. R flashed his badge to the guard and the guard looked tipped his hat and let us pass. R brought out headphones and radios so Organic and I could hear the audio on the scene. His boss looked over at R arranging us girls, shook his head and gave me a closed mouth smile. R rolled his eyes.

“It’s been a crazy day.”

I put my hand on the side of his face as he hooked up my radio to the headphones and tested the frequency.

“You okay?”

Of course honey.” And I believed him. Because he had calming eyes. Gray with swimming flecks of blue, his focused stare could always stop the bickering in my head and bring me back into the moment.

“Hey R." He looked up from the cords.

"Thanks for taking such good care of us. Organic and I promise to invite you next time we decide to have a pillow fight in our panties. Ok?"

He laughed. He put his hand over mine and brought my palm to his lips for a quick kiss before he headed back over to Bob and the camera. From where Organic and I were huddled, under a tree and out of the way, we could watch the scene unfold.

Matt was standing nearby waiting for the scene to begin. I waved. They were powdering his nose to take away the shine. He looked my direction and mouthed my name.

"Hey Jane."

Angelina sat behind Organic and I with an assistant that had a serious gum chewing habit. I tried to avoid her funky mastication, but one would have to be deaf not to hear her cracking her Bubblicious. Adding to the tension in the air was Angies presence. The set was hyped, Paparazzi swarmed the rooftops, everyone was sweating.

Including R.

This was a world to which I had never sought access, but could enjoy through proxy to this man with whom I was sort of falling for.

With the eyes of a child, I observed as they shot for a few hours, weathered a flash flood and shot a little more. The scene was outside a church surrounded by a courtyard that had been made into a Haitian market. Tomorrow it would be the streets of Cuba. On the corner of the courtyard was a house that was meant to be in Africa. I love the movies. Within less than half the length of a football field, I can pass through three continents.

As darkness approached and shadows fell over the actors faces, R came over and suggested I invite the girls to join us for Angie’s wrap dinner that night. ‘The girls’ referred to my new girlfriends. Organic, Kelly and I had busied ourselves through the week with early brunches, riotous laughter, afternoon cappuccinos and day trips to exotic parts of the DR. We all tried to act cool, but we had just been invited to dinner with the two most famous people in the world right now.

I went back to the hotel and waited. I found R nervously pacing the lobby on his cell phone a few hours later.

Since I had arrived in the DR, I could see him, I could touch him, I could sleep next to him, but I couldn’t feel him. He was swept up in the machine of everything around us and getting his connection to run deeper than a shallow kiddy pool was as likely as an Aniston-Pitt reunion.

“Where are they? This is ridiculous….”

I left him to wander back into the bar and join a group of crew. Matt stood up and kissed my cheeks.

“Jane. Enjoy your day on set?” His eyes were red from late nights filming and the few beers he had been drinking since they wrapped. I sat for a while and listened to everyone swap stories about the day.

"Yeah. Very cool. What can I say? It's still impressive to me."

"I always say, the most exciting day of my life was the first day I stepped on a movie set. And the most boring, the second. We are heading over. You coming?” Matt asked me.

“Waiting for the guys. You know how it is.”

“See you over there. I heard they have bottle dancing.”

“Great. I'll wear my sneakers.”

R came around the corner with a few members of the crew. We headed outside to join the procession of black SUV’s lined up outside the hotel. R and the guys threw down beers during the short car ride and complained about work.

We arrived to a circus of color and sound that was already in full motion. Music blared from speakers too small to support the volume. Colorfully attired dancers swirled in circles on a tiny makeshift dance floor. A Dominican woman hollered while she spun atop a wine bottle.

We entered the section of the restaurant cornered off for our party and as we passed by each table we were received with handshakes. We air kissed the important players, my short arms pulled over tables laid out with red beans, rice, plantain chips, grilled vegetables, fried bread and several little dipping sauces. My right breast grazed a bowl of chili’s as Matt tried to partner his handshake with an awkward hug.

After we were seated, Brad and Angie made an entrance. Security filled the room. Tourist camera flashes lit the restaurant.

R’s eyes began to twinkle from the drink.

Foreign dignitaries pushed their chairs closers to Angelina’s. She was composed, careful about her movements. I watched as Brad sat silently by her side. He slumped over the back of her chair cupping a beer. He ignored the activity around him, remaining cool while waiters in straw hats and bow ties danced around him. He looked bored. And tired.

Angie looked hungry. Bob looked stressed. I looked nervous.

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When I get nervous, I talk. A lot. Jokes awkwardly flew out of my mouth. I laughed so hard that crocodile tears swept down my cheeks. I told inappropriate jokes. I sat on the producers lap in a charade of chicanery.

"She's a live one. Are you sure you can handle it?"

"I can handle it."

The girls roared, their boyfriends looked shocked. R just laughed. Closing out all the noise for a moment, he grabbed my hand across the table. And for a small amount of time, suspended betwixt Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, a table of new friends, snapping tourists, plastic parrots, El Presidente Beers, DR beans and rice, eighteen security guards toting hand guns, brown bodies adorned in yellow and orange costumes dancing on a bottle in our periphery vision… R and I, we were okay. We cared about each other. We were going to make it.

... and then the music flooded back in. R was pulled away to help settle the bill. One of the crew boyfriends disappeared, Angie got tired of waiting for her food and attacked the buffet, the girls stepped outside to catch rides back to the hotel.

And I was alone again.

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