Sometime around sophomore year of high school, my dad sat me down on the old, slightly scratchy couch in our basement and made me watch ‘Almost Famous.’ I was a budding young journalist, writing for the teen section of my hometown newspaper, and his reasoning was something along the lines of, “If you really want to have a career in journalism, you need to see this movie.”
I loved it, every last second of it. I don’t watch movies a whole lot, but ‘Almost Famous’ is one I can sit down and watch again and again – always the ‘Untitled’ extended version – never tiring of it.
Every time I’m on an airplane, I find myself thinking of that movie. Usually, I’m trying not to think about the flight scene, the near-death experience that fuels William Miller’s story’s opening lines. But every time the flight attendants begin their safety schpeal, I think of Penny Lane (can’t find a clip — watch the movie and you’ll get it).
In high school, after watching the movie at my birthday party, a group of friends nicknamed me Penny Lane. Somehow, it’s stuck around, occasionally pulled out by those friends and a few others who know the story. And while I’ve always found it flattering, I’ve never quite gotten the comparison. Penny Lane is strong, determined and not quite fearless, but ready to face her fears. She’s up for any adventure, impetuous and driven mostly by her heart and emotions. I suppose, now that I think about it and type it out, I embody some of those traits, but for the most part, I’ve always thought that the similarities began and ended with our matching winter (or, it seems for her, year-round) coats.
So there I am last weekend, 30 thousand feet in the air, somewhere between Buffalo, N.Y., and Atlanta, thinking about ‘Almost Famous,’ Penny Lane and a job offer I’d received earlier that week. The offer was practically perfect: managing editor of a web magazine that I’ve written for since its inception and been an editor for for over a year, along with editor-in-chief of their new partnership with a newspaper. I say “practically perfect” because the job is quite a bit of a risk, not a lot of money – and in Boston. And because of all of that, the week had been filled with tears, worry and serious reflection, both internal and to others, about if I could make it work. When I got on that plane, I honestly wasn’t sure what I was going to do.
And then it hit me: Penny Lane would take that job. She would take the risk. Much like my friends and family had been telling me, she probably would have said, “You’re only young once. You’re supposed to take risks when you’re young. You’re supposed to do what makes you happy.” Or she just would have made me follow her to Morocco.
Well, this job will make me happy. All the positives — especially the fact that this will benefit my career — outweigh the potential negatives. So, I’m doing it. I’m embracing my inner Penny Lane, and, with the support and well wishes of my boyfriend, family and friends, I’m taking the leap. I’ll be moving over Labor Day weekend, and I’ll start my new job that following week. I don’t know what will happen, but I do know that if I don’t do this, I’ll regret it. And living with regret is no way to go through life.
“It’s all happening!” (Penny Lane, ‘Almost Famous’)