I’ve never really understood the excitement around celebrities. They are talented people who happen to be in the public eye. There are plenty of talented people who deserve to be as celebrated but aren’t, so why feed into the assumed hierarchy?

Other than hoping or assuming it will have value in the future, I don’t really understand autographs. I think I mostly don’t understand it bc it doesn’t usually include much of an interaction with the person. I suppose it’s a token to remember being in the presence of someone you admire.

I’ve also wondered about photographs with celebrities. How weird to think that some people have thousands of photographs taken of themselves with strangers. I mean, personally, I’d be pretty creeped out by that? What are you doing with that photo?

And then, I got it. After seeing Baz Luhrmann’s biopic, Elvis, I wanted to meet the man behind making a movie that I could watch 4 times. And one that I have to restrain myself from watching many more times, so I don’t feel like I’m too obsessed. The man who also compiled a soundtrack that I can turn on and immediately feel happy nostalgia and amazement at the musical arrangements. I also wanted to meet the man who embodied Elvis Presley so precisely, Austin Butler. I told myself that I didn’t need a picture or autograph. I just wanted a quick exchange to share my gratitude and admiration. Who am I kidding? I actually wanted to sit and have a drink with them to pick their brains about some Elvis questions and to just philosophize about life. Being realistic enough to know that that could never happen, the quick exchange would suffice. Knowing that I’d have more to express than they could actually stop to discuss, I decided passing along a note sharing what I wanted to say would do the trick.

And then, I had the opportunity to pass along my notes. And that wasn’t enough. I still didn’t want the photo or autograph, but my brain couldn’t stop wondering if they actually received or read my notes. I kept trying to figure out how in the world I would ever find out. My negative bias was saying, “just forget it. They’re too busy to read some note from a fan. It probably promptly went into the trash. Or their publicist or manager screened it, and then trashed it.” My logical self was saying, “Why does this matter to you? You did your part. You wrote it down, and you passed it along. There is nothing more to do. Try to just assume it was read and appreciated.” My persistent need for closure self was saying, “Figure out another way to encounter them. Or see if someone else who encounters them can ask. You’ve got to know the answer.” Guess which self won.

Well, technically it was a constant dialogue of ups and downs and just keeping an eye out for opportunity. Some may say I did some manifesting.

When the news came that they would be in the desert for the Palm Springs Film Festival Film Awards and considering we now have a house in Palm Desert, I thought, well maybe I should try that. Seems like something I could read into as a sign.

Then that negative cognitive bias came back and told me I was being ridiculous, and even if I did go, something would happen so they didn’t show up. Thankfully, I’m learning to tell, Negative Nancy, as I call that thought process, that she can have her opinions, but I’m not always going to do what she says. So I said, you know what, this sounds like a fun event anyway. You’ll still have fun Baz and Austin or no Baz and Austin.

I did more research and got excited about the idea of a Hollywood-type event in the more cozy Palm Springs. I inquired about tickets and found out that the event was sold out. Wonk wonk. I was put on a waiting list, but you know who was sure to remind me there was no way I was getting tickets. Well guess what Nancy, you were wrong! Fairly quickly after being on the waiting list, I was able to snag two tickets. Could it be another sign? Were the stars aligning? Whatever, @cleverdevil and I would have a fun, fancy night out iin Palm Springs, with a potential added bonus of getting my nagging question answered.

Well…maybe not. The kids got Covid before and around Christmas as I’ve already shared, so guess who was back. That damn Nancy. “Oh, you’re going to get Covid. You might as well call and cancel your tickets.” Again, I’m getting better at not trusting her bias. So I didn’t cancel. But boy did I test every day until I was beyond the timeframe of any exposure to the kids. I got past that, and thought maybe just maybe.

Jonathan and I came out to the desert 3 days before the event. We happened to meet someone who was an experienced Film Awards attendee. So I asked her questions to manage my expectations. It sounded like there might be an opportunity to ask if they got my notes. Oh, why hello Nancy, I was expecting you. “Lacey, don’t get your hopes up. They are not going to show. Even if they have every intention of doing so, something is going to happen preventing them from attending in-person.”

The day of the event Nancy woke me up with all of the thoughts. One being that I was for sure going to test positive for Covid this morning. I didn’t have any symptoms, but it would definitely be fitting for me to get it the day of the event. As I’ve also shared, I am committed to doing my best not to spread Covid, so I felt an obligation to test before this event. Proof of vaccination was required, but that’s not foolproof. I was so convinced that I was going to test positive, and I wasn’t sure how I’d react, that I made Jonathan test first. Negative. Phew! In all likelihood, if he didn’t have it, I didn’t have it. I considered just using his test as a sort of “surveillance” test and not testing myself. But who was I kidding? There’s no way I’d forgive myself if I became symptomatic or tested positive within 2 days of the event and I hadn’t tested. So, I told Nancy to stop stressing me out. I tested. Only one line. All good. Green light for the event.

Jonathan and I got all fancied up, and yes Nancy was in there beating me up about how I looked, but she’s not allowed to ruin things for me. Hah! I got you Nancy. I am going to this event, and I’m going to enjoy it.

Welllll, the format of the event changed a bit from the pre-2020 days. It looked more like we’d get to watch red carpet walks, but there was definitely no chance of answering the nagging question. And again, I kept telling myself, “It doesn’t matter. You don’t need to know. Just let it go.”

Time for Nancy, “why are you even here? You aren’t a celebrity person and you are risking getting Covid. You should probably just leave.” Here’s the thing, I was enjoying myself despite my dashed hopes. I made some new friends while waiting along the red carpet. It was super fun to cheer for the celebs as they entered the ballroom. One of my new friends actually got Michelle Yeoh to come take a photo with her, and it was so special and touching to see. It had seemed apparent that the celebs were instructed not to stop and interact as they walked along, but that didn’t stop my new friend from asking. And man was her courage rewarded. It was a special moment.

Ugh, Nancy what are you doing here? “You should have done that when Austin passed by. Why do you have to be such a rule follower? You should have had the gumption to just ask.” Oh well, still having fun.

We got to our table, and wow we had some pretty good celebrity viewing seats. We couldn’t see the stage all that well, but the roped off tables where they all dined and chatted was right in front of us. Cate Blanchett, Collin Farrell, Viola Davis, Stephen Spielberg, Michelle Williams, and Brendan Fraser were all within sight. I scanned for Austin and Baz to no avail, but did it really matter? I wasn’t going to talk to them.

Although, once I saw them, I can’t say that I didn’t think about walking into that roped off section with the confidence that I belonged. I figured, I could do that but as soon as I tapped Austin or Baz on the shoulder, I’d have security dragging me out. And also, there’s that strict rule following part of me that was definitely not bold enough to even attempt it. But I did pretend in my head that I could do it, if I really wanted to. Then, I told myself again to let it go. Enjoy the event. And I did.

Until…the idea of being so close yet so far got to me. How can I make this happen? As the ceremony started to come to a close with the last award presented, I accepted my fate. Those weren’t signs or stars aligning. I’d have to move on. I texted my friend saying it just wasn’t going to happen, and I could be okay with that. She said, “What can you manifest?” I’d say it was Nancy, but it definitely seemed more like the logical side of me, I replied that it wasn’t going to happen. She encouraged that maybe a chance meeting could still happen. Unlikely.

Did I actually accept that it wasn’t going to happen? Kind of. But I still had my antenna up for the opportunity. The opportunity came as the ceremony finished and people began filing out. I saw Catherine Martin leave her table and walk along the ropes closest to us. I really wanted to stop her and tell her how much I admire her work, but I chickened out. I gave her a smile instead. I lingered hoping that Baz might follow along. And he did! I said, “Baz, could I ask you a quick question?” He stopped. I inquired. And got my closure. He had been able to read his note and to pass along the other note to Austin. I thanked him, and he moved along.

I started walking toward the exit, but I asked Jonathan, “Did Austin leave the other way?” He didn’t know. But then I looked up. He was following the same path as Baz. Carpe Diem!

“Austin, I had Baz pass along a note and a gift to you.” Then I introduced myself. He got it. He read the note. He appreciated the note and the gift. Like truly. I could tell he wasn’t just appeasing me. And then…I did it. I did the thing I don’t understand. I asked if he’d take a photo with me. Of course he obliged. Then it was over. Closure. Satisfaction.

As we exited the venue, I reeled and was so happy to hear that my message was received. I didn’t know how much it would actually settle the stress of not knowing. I was surprised how quickly a bit of tension was released.

Well, guess what, Nancy wanted to come spoil the party. “You said you didn’t need a photo. You hypocrite. Why did you ask for the photo? What are you going to do with it?!”

She’s still trying to ruin it for me. But the moment was enough. I’ve had to work through why I asked for the photo. Maybe it was just instinct. I mean that’s what you are supposed to do, so you do it. I’ve had to come to peace with having a photo with a celebrity and to tell myself that I didn’t make him feel creeped out by the fact that one more stranger has a photo with him. You know how I’m doing that? By writing. And by accepting that I can’t control how he interprets the encounter.

I’m glad I have the photo, and not because I’m supposed to stare at it and appreciate his good looks. I mean it’s undeniable that he is a handsome man, so that would probably be understandable. However, I’m grateful because it reminds me of the moment. The moment that it all came together. The moment I got my peace. The moment Nancy had to accept defeat, even if she got right back up again to try to spoil it. She’s always hanging around along with Debbie Downer and Anxiety Annie. But I’m getting better at hearing them but not letting them rule me. Nancy, Debbie, and Annie thanks for trying to protect me. I’ll let you know when you get to shine. Tonight was not the night.

*Disclaimer: I have recently learned that not all people have an internal dialogue. To be clear Nancy, Debbie, and Annie are not split personalities. They are just what I name certain thought patterns that I wrestle with.