When I was in middle school, I become friends with two girls that I still consider to be the best friends I’ve ever had, Kelly and Julie. I already had a passion for storytelling way back then, and we bonded over two things I loved – making videos and writing hilarious stories. It started with some goofy music videos, cooking shows and commercial parodies, but then we pulled in more friends to make a Hitchcock mystery (complete with spooky music played by one of the actors on a Casio keyboard under the table), “Driving School” videos, and lip-sync battles in crazy 1970s attire. We thought we were hilarious. A couple other people did too.
The other thing we did was write stories for each other. Before there was texting, of course, we had to write on actual paper, and we would each take a chapter in the adventures of our alter egos, J.A.K., and pass them along in the hall between classes, for the sole purpose of making each other laugh.
We also watched a lot of movies. The Three Amigos was a favorite, as we were three best friends. But one movie that I saw with these friends inspired me in particular. That movie was Dead Poet’s Society. I saw that movie and it sealed in me every belief that words held power to persuade, to inspire, to move people in ways that changed the course of their lives. I was sold. I was going to be a screenwriter.
A couple years later, when I went on my senior trip to Disneyworld in Florida, we spent a day at MGM studios. At MGM there was a replica of the historic Chinese Theater, and they have their own collection of cemented hand and footprints from stars of Disney movies. And wouldn’t you know, one of those stars was Dead Poet’s Society’s Robin Williams, who etched “Carpe diem” into the cement with his hands. I put my hands in his, in a way of cementing my dreams.
Last week, just over 20 years later, I walked across a red carpet into the real Chinese Theater in Hollywood, over the cement handprints of many movie giants, into the premiere of a movie that I wrote. A comedy, not surprisingly. Moms’ Night Out.
And here’s the kicker. Julie was there. By the crazy twists of life and God’s awesome plan, Julie moved with her family to L.A. a year ago and was able to be there for this milestone moment in my life. Here’s a picture of her taking a picture of me on the red carpet.
Just a few days before, I had the honor of hosting a preview screening of the movie at my alma mater, Asbury University, and Kelly was there. Again through those crazy twists and God’s plan, she and her family moved back to Wilmore, and she was able to share that fun moment with me. Here’s a picture of us after the screening.
As happens with childhood friends, Julie moved away sophomore year, Kelly graduated, we all went separate ways. The Adventures of JAK story ended with the characters sitting around in an uncharacteristically serious moment, pondering, “I know we’ll be pals for a while, but what about in 50 years?” A asked, her voice choked with emotion.” What is going to happen then? Will we still be the best of friends?”
I know the answer. It’s so sweet to see a dream come true. Sweeter still to share it with people who were there when it was born, so many years ago. Julie and Kelly, I love you!