There have been many such unexpected bits of goodness along this particular way. As anyone who voted for me in the Your Big Break filmmaking competition (or for that matter, simply registered) already knows, I was not one of the five finalists. Disappointing, yes. But for me the entire experience was tremendous, a fun and productive challenge, something I decided to do--had no choice but to do--on top of selling our house and innumerable other tasks. I was pleased with my work--no mean feat--for a contest whose very existence, at this time, seemed providential.
And so I found myself feeling very grateful for the opportunity to share my work, my perspective, my take on what New Zealand means--within the context of an advertising slogan. The anticipation of the results, while wrapping up my corporate work; saying farewells as best I could in a limited time; searching for answers for friends and family; moving in with friends and moving on.
On Wednesday, however, I was not feeling much gratitude when we learned, at the gate in San Francisco, about what I shall lovingly refer to as the passport glitch, and how a year's labor seemed suddenly jeopardized. And yet: the resulting delay, the postponement of our flight, the walk back from G93 . . . all these meant that I was in the perfect time and place in the South Court to meet, and thank, Barrie Osborne, the producer of The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings . . . and also Your Big Break. Barrie Osborne. What a gracious man.
The next day, after spending a good part of the afternoon resolving the passport glitch, we wandered around looking for dinner. I had it in my head that Indian was the necessary cuisine (Italian was right out), and so, after inquiring at a nearby hotel, we proceeded past the Transamerica Pyramid in search of a restaurant that with each block seemed less and less likely to exist.
I paused at a corner building. I noticed a plaque that described it as the home of Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope studio since 1972. This was interesting, I thought, but then my eye caught another Indian restaurant across the street. Not until Jenifer pointed out, quite rightly, that we were standing at the front door of Cafe Zoetrope, Francis Ford Coppola's restaurant, did I see that maybe we should go in and enjoy some Italian food.
And so we did. I enjoyed the best chicken caesar salad I've ever had, as well as an '07 Pinot Grigio. The previous 24 hours had been a mite stressful. And so we are enjoying the atmosphere, the photographs, the awards, and saying things like Barrie Osborne, when in strolls the Master himself. He moves to the rear of the cafe and disappears from view. Not until we leave do we see him again, sitting alone at an outside table and on the phone. There is no need to interrupt him, of course, but Hawk waves and delivers a bright "Hi!" and Francis waves back. A blessing.
Getting to Wellington has been a journey of persistent groundlessness. Again and again I am reminded that thinking I have some measure of control in the whole affair is rather pointless. You do what you can and then move on. Breathing is also helpful. Every seeming obstacle, every delay, every hysteria-inducing complication has meant that good stuff was on the way. Two unplanned days in San Francisco turned out to be the perfect way to get to New Zealand, right on time.