Exact Moment

Recently I re-watched LA Story.

LA Story Movie Poster

The first time I saw it, I was part of the domestic exchange program and spending a semester at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!). They played it in the campus theater. I think I was the only one who laughed at all. I wonder if it is only funny to people from Southern California.

In re-watching it, I was struck by the line, “Why is it we don’t always recognize the moment when love begins, but we always know when it ends?” I realized that while the line is definitely true for love, it is far from universal. In many things in life, I can point to an exact moment where my thinking changed.

Since I moved back to the States a decade ago this week, I thought I’d recapture the exact moment when I decided to move to England, which happened when I was in Paris.

I was on my first trip abroad, triggered by the death of a dear friend; I was almost 30, newly divorced, and lost … emotionally. As I was walking through a glorious mini park tucked off the main path, a thought crossed my mind, “You could live here.” Then it hit me: I really could.

Paris Park in February
Even at the time I understood the significance of what had just happened and took a picture of the park!

I took a seat on a cold park bench (it was February) and had a good think. I thought the language barrier would be too much for me, but I’d just returned for a glorious week in the UK, and I almost spoke that language. I could move there. I had money from the house sale sitting in my account. There was nothing holding me in place. I would kick myself forever if I didn’t take advantage of this unique opportunity.

And so I jumped and worried about the details later. Well, not all the details. At the airport for my flight home, I pulled out all the francs I had left and placed them on the counter in the gift shop. In my broken French, I asked if that could possibly be enough for a pen and some paper. (My homemade notebook resourcefulness hadn’t developed yet.) The woman took pity on me and found a tiny little notebook on the shelves, reached behind the counter for a pen, and then took my money. I was so grateful.

I spent the flight home writing lists. What would need to be done? Ideas of how to handle my cat (not Carmen). The last list I tried to write was, “Reasons this is not insane.” Nothing went on the page. It didn’t need to. My mind was made up. I knew it was right.

What has been some of your life-altering thinking changes? or Has anyone else watched a much loved film and picked up on something new?

14 thoughts on “Exact Moment”

  1. I admire you following your heart. I always wonder, why couldn’t I just… Other people do these things, so why can’t I. I guess it takes more courage than I’ve found yet.

    I haven’t seen L.A. Story in a long time, but I’ll always remember laughing when they are driving on the freeway and pulling out their guns. Also, when the girl says her breasts are real. So funny.

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    1. The strangest part about the move was that it seemed like the obvious decision. I didn’t feel brave at all. In looking back, it did take guts. I’m glad I didn’t think about it too much because I might not have done it.

      I love LA Story. The actress with the real breasts is Sarah Jessica Parker! It’s worth a borrow from your local library. It will make you laugh.

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  2. What a cool story. It’s great when you can remember the moment you decide to do something. I’m like you in that I can usually pinpoint the time I decide to do something or when my mind changes about something. I don’t know, maybe that makes us a little weird. I know that a lot of people remember endings more than beginnings. It could be that endings are just a little more emotional so they stand out more.

    I’m glad that you could jump at the opportunity. It would be a great experience – one that you can look back on and be glad you did.

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    1. Most of my decisions aren’t based on sudden whims like this one. Things normally build. But, you are right, even with that, I can still normally find the moment when my mind decided to act.

      I think endings stand out more, and they are usually more clear. Pinpointing the exact moment when love begins can be tricky, but so many endings have a defining moment.

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  3. I think when you know something is right, it really does just fall into place and make sense – even if it may seem completely otherwise to anyone else. I can think of many instances where I knew I was at the start of something. If you think about it, endings and beginnings are really wrapped up all in one moment, aren’t they? You end high school; you begin college or work life. You stop being single; you begin being married – or the other way around. You stop being childless; you begin being a parent. Beginnings and endings go hand in hand, they offer balance. I guess the difference between focusing on whether a moment is a beginning or an ending depends on perspective, where the person is mentally, emotionally, etc. – Do they need to stop doing something? Or start?

    What a great opportunity you had before you at that moment! So glad that you chose to seize it! Not everyone would.

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    1. It is so true that beginnings and endings go hand in hand. It can be sudden and unexpected, but they still are related. My move to end moment was the beginning of the end of my mental misery – my first step to rebuilding my own identity which allowed the healing to begin. The fact that I was a little unstable at the time probably didn’t hurt in making the decision. Normally people up and move continents, right? This was definitely a time when not being normal paid HUGE dividends. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

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  4. Je ne regrette rien, right? It’s true that you look back and mostly regret the opportunities you weren’t brave enough to pursue. Well, it’s true for me, I’m a bit of a scaredy cat. Are you glad you did it?
    I’m liking your blog!

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    1. Hi Jo, so glad to see you back!

      The crazy thing about this whole situation is that at that point in my life I was scared of my own shadow. That is what made the situation all the more shocking. I had that flashing thought of moving abroad (like everyone does on vacation) and I not only seriously considered it, I did it. I was so un-me, but so very much the me I wanted to be. It felt right, and following my gut there was one of the best choices of my life.

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  5. It’s cool to read your thoughts of past experience. Always believed that in order to know where we’re going, we have to learn from where we’ve been. I loved the LA Story as well. Especially the sidewalk cafe scene ordering LA drinks (triple espresso with and the insignificant earthquake. “I’ll have a half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon.” Brilliant!

    I’ve been in a theater with Kathy where we were not only the loudest laughers but the only laughers. That’s funny too! It was “Everyone says I love You” by quirky Woody Allen, and actors Alan Alda,Goldie Hawn, Ed Norton, and others.(I felt guilty not mentioning Drew Barrymore so I looked up the movie) This was similar to a play but with added special effects made it even more phenomenal! So much talent!

    The places I’ve been on vacation and thought I might want to live. Catalina, Merced, and San Simeon. Still love San Diego though!

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    1. The best part of the sidewalk cafe scene has to be the fact that no one except the fresh-off-the-plane British woman even seems to notice that earthquake!

      I agree that it is funny to be the only one laughing in a theater. After I got over the initial embarrassment of it, I started to feel that the movie was written just for me. Laugh out loud I did. How could you not when you see the “Pollo del Mar” sign?!?!?!?

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  6. Oh I love that movie! I laughed so much at everyone getting in the car and driving to the friend’s house – next door. We didn’t do that when I lived in CA but I must say that it’s almost that bad in AZ. I have been known to drive from one part of a mall to another because it’s way too friggin hot to walk.
    One movie line that stuck with me was from City Slickers, a movie that I did not expect to like. One of the guys says “Life is a do-over” and I pretty much made that my entire life motto from then on. Later I found out that wasn’t exactly the line, but since I’ve done my life over and over again, it’s too late to take back my movie line inspiration! 🙂

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    1. What a wonderful line. Some days I wish a life do-over is possible. I think I will need to adopt that mantra myself!

      Like you, I have never driven next door, but I too have driven to the other side of the mall. Heat is nothing to mess with!

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  7. I think I’ve seen that movie, but I can’t for the life of me remember anything about it.

    I remember lots of turning point moments. Sometimes they were within a conversation, a line spoken or a thought that sticks out in my mind. And others were major life events. I believe all these little things make up a life, and they are easy to pinpoint when looking back. Great post!

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    1. The movie is definitely worth re-watching. It is still hilarious. I was surprised at how well it aged.

      Isn’t it amazing at how a single sentence can be life changing? That has happened to me so often.

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