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#lifegoals

2000 740 Austin Barrow

#lifegoals

A couple of weeks ago, I said goodbye to a friend. As I type the word friend, it immediately falls flat. There are so many other words that would better describe our relationship; confidant, advocate, mentor, and eventually collaborator.

I received the news of his passing on a Saturday afternoon, where I was commiserating myself over the abysmal performance of the Arkansas Razorback football team, sitting on my living room couch. The news wasn’t surprising. We had long separated our regular morning coffee sessions due to his illness. The separation being long enough that seeing his face and the recall of our time together hit me deep in the chest.

As tears began to fall down my cheeks, my wife grew immediately concerned. She knows I’m a crier of high renown, and although the game was going poorly, it wasn’t that bad. I couldn’t speak. I tried, but I couldn’t get words over the top of my tongue. The words were stuck at the top of my throat, and I knew if I spoke them out loud, I would most certainly not be able to hold back the flood that I could feel welling up behind my eyes. It wasn’t the vocal acknowledgment of the passing but a physical exertion to vocalize, which I knew would prevent the hold I had on the flood.

I laid down in the bedroom for a bit. I needed a moment, a moment to recollect. The memories came flooding in, moments I hadn’t thought of in years. Conversations, jokes, stories, and silly coffee cups were racing around in my head. Work that seemed so important at the time, forgotten with some distance, was suddenly refreshed in my washy memories. Books. This man taught me how essential books could be when you find yourself awash on an island full of tasks that you have no idea how to complete.

Now over the age of forty, there is a generation of disappearing friends and family beginning to climb in number. It’s a cycle of life that we all go through, I suppose, but when you first enter the fray, it’s a little jolting. Like the increasing lines on my face, I occasionally look up and think, “What the heck happened?”

Now when that thought comes up, I see the lines, think of old friends, and the answer comes, life, my friend. Live it well and live it fully, and when you shuffle off this mortal coil, you will leave behind more smiles than tears.

A Screenplay Inspired by Real Life Events

1616 536 Austin Barrow

Take a Peek Won't You?

So, I’ve had a lot of inquiries from family and friends to let them know what I’m working on at the moment. In the past three months, I’ve written three complete screenplays, and I’d like to share my favorite with you. This was quite the learning process for me. I basically created a MasterClass for myself in screenwriting, buying six recommended books (Story Line: Finding Gold in your Life Story, Writing the TV Drama Series: How to Succeed as a Professional Writer in TV, The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, and Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need) on the subject, and consuming them as fast as I could. I also spent hours listening to current and back episodes of ScriptNotes with John August(@johnaugust) and Craig Mazin(@clmazin). I created workbooks, notes, and a lesson plan. I felt like a college professor all over again. All the while, I was pecking away at my stories.

All Up to Faith was inspired by my wife. She has taken a large bite of the American dream that so many of us wish we had the nerve to try. She is a successful entrepreneur, and she did it all on her own. Spa on Main opened over eight years ago and has been financially successful every year. Some years were more rigorous than others, but she has been an inspiration for me and many others as a person with drive, tenacity, and full of warm and engaging energy. She’s always full of creative ideas on how to further her work, and I guess it’s so inspiring because it’s all based on such a simple premise, to help others relax and find a little peace in their day.

Now the script is only loosely based on real events, and if you are a patron of my wife’s establishment and think you see yourself somewhere in this story … well, you may be correct. So, without further ado…

Below is a teaser (opening moments of the show before the title credits, for the uninitiated). If you find it intriguing, I have placed a link here and below to the full script, or you’d prefer a PDF of the teaser in proper format, you can find that HERE. Enjoy!

TEASER

EXT. DAY SPA – MORNING

The cloudy blue sky of a picture-perfect morning wraps around
a Norman Rockwell like downtown landscape. Flowers bloom,
birds CHIRP, and the sun shines.

One storefront stands out from the rest, covered in fresh
flowers and a classical hand-painted sign announcing “Faith’s
Day Spa,” above “OPENING DAY!”

A cheap compact car pulls into view and parks.

INT. FAITH’S CAR – CONTINUOUS

White knuckling the steering wheel is FAITH DAVIS, a mane of
curly hair, perfect makeup and a face full of fear.

Her eyes focus on a pitifully small diamond ring on her left
hand. She rips it off and chunks it in the back seat.

She takes a deep breath and exhales with a long calming sigh.

FAITH
(eyes closed)
Lord, give me the strength to
provide a perfect calming
environment for my customers,
provide for my son, and prove to
him his momma is not a pushover.
(then remembering)
Oh, and also finally to show that
peckerwood ex-husband of mine that
I can stand on my on two feet
without him. Amen.

She opens her eyes filled with joy and excitement until …
PLOP. A large creamy load of bird shit lands on her
windshield.

She looks up to heaven.

FAITH
Not the message I was hoping for
Lord.

EXT. DAY SPA – CONTINUOUS

Faith wrestles with her key in the front door. She shakes and
shimmies, trying to get the key to turn until CLICK, it
opens.

JASMINE, a young and spritely cosmetologist wearing high
heels runs up behind Faith.

JASMINE
Boo! Morning boss lady!

Faith takes in Jasmine’s messy hair, unmade face, and heels,
then she walks inside, trying to hold onto her smile.

INT. DAY SPA/FRONT DESK – CONTINUOUS

FAITH
Jasmine, you know you’re a “beauty”
specialist right?

JASMINE
Don’t pitch a hissy fit. Just gimme
five, and I’ll be as purty as a
peach.

Jasmine gives Faith a friendly pop on the behind and bounces
in her heels to the makeup counter.

The door JINGLES as it opens. Gracing them with her presence
is HOLLY, dreadlocks, flowing clothes, and yoga mat tucked
under her arm.

HOLLY
Namaste free spirits.

JASMINE
Hey there tinker-bell.

HOLLY
I told you not to call me that.

FAITH
Good morning Holly.

HOLLY
Is it?

A fidgety MAN wearing overalls yanks on the front door. It’s
stuck … again.

FAITH
Girls, be nice. First customer!

Faith assists with the door.

OVERALLS MAN
Man am I glad you’re open. Can I
use your toilet?

Faith gathers her pride and points down the hall.

FAITH
Third door on your left.

Overalls Man quickly potty walks in that direction.

HOLLY
Ugh, I hope he doesn’t want a
massage.

JASMINE
Or a pedicure. Can you imagine
those feet?

FAITH
You should treat our customers the
way you would want to be treated.

HOLLY
Yeah? Well, first, you have to have
customers.

Holly turns and walks to her treatment room with a look of
pleasure in stealing the last word.

JASMINE
Okay! How about a little spa music?

Jasmine flips on the spa sound system.

FAITH
Wait!

Loud, booming gangsta rap MUSIC fills the spa. Faith runs and
hits a button, switching it to soothing environmental sounds.

JASMINE
Faith! I didn’t know you were such
an OG.

END TEASER

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When It’s Time to Go

4032 3024 Austin Barrow

When It's Time to Go

This morning I decided to count up all of the different homes I have lived in over my past forty-one years. The total may be a little surprising to people that do not know me well, but if you’ve been paying attention, then the number twenty-one might seem low. This confirmed suspicion and I have now built enough evidence to prove … I might be a bit of a gypsy.

On average, I move to a new home every two years. Now, many of those moves are only across town for a new, better, cheaper, etc. living space. Occasionally it’s across the country from city to city for work or because it’s time for a new challenge. Now that I prepare for my next significant move, I am attempting to categorize the why in a way that will feel familiar and in some respects give it a sense of approval that it is currently missing.

Whenever I am asked to recount my personal history, I usually toss out the tale that I left home at the age of eighteen, never looking in my rearview mirror, and promising myself that I would never move back home. This proved false when a semi, full of my belongings, pulled back into my hometown fifteen years later. However, that initial move was a mere fifty miles down the road. So, although it was some distance, I could still bring my dirty laundry back on the weekends.

The first real significant move was north to Chicago. I was newly married to my high school sweetheart, freshly graduated from college, and ready to take on the world. I was excited because Chicago was a “real” city. I wasn’t a local recluse. I had traveled internationally at that point, but there is a fine line between visiting somewhere and living there, becoming part of a community, not observing one.

It was summer in the south, hot. Really hot. Stains of sweat marked the path on the concrete between my boxes and the trailer I was loading, but if I took more than two-minute break, it would disappear. My grandmother, all five feet of her, was trying to help. This mostly meant finding additional items within her home that she thought I might like to add to my collection of nick-nacks. I was attempting to dissuade her, explaining that my new apartment was not quite five-hundred square feet, but it was a losing battle.

When talking about the move, everyone at that point told me my future would look something like the pilot episode of the Beverly Hillbillies. I would be a fish out of water, lost in the hustle and bustle of an enormous place. I could hear the silent conversation of folks laying down bets on how long it would take for me to come back home. My grandmother, however, knew better.

As I was finishing up on the last boxes, near heat exhaustion, she brought me a glass of water. She looked up at me, smiling as she usually was and said, “I think you are going to love it there. The city will suit you better than anyone knows.” Whether she believed that or was just trying to calm my nerves for the impending resettlement, I don’t know. What I do know is she was correct.

These past eight years, being back in my hometown has been the perfect respite for my entire family. They were, perhaps a necessary stamp in the events of my life. I’m not talking about the work I completed, but the people I’ve met and family I got to be a little closer to, if only for a moment. With most of them moved on, both physically and metaphysically, it’s time for us to seek out home number twenty-two.

This one will be more difficult, as leaving home is always, but this second time around feels more permanent. So, perhaps there is no category to define the why for this upcoming transition. Probably transition is just our norm. Some of us are meant to toss our flag in the ground, lay down roots, build a firm foundation, and grow. I guess we’ve just gotten better a pitching a tent and seeking out adventure.