You Can’t Make This Shit Up (Part III)

The final segment of the intro to my attempted script based on the true account of the couple of years, and couple of people, that would forever change the course of my life. See Part I and Part II here if you missed them.

I arrived at the Four Seasons near Redwood City in San Francisco and found Brandt. Again we instantly hit it off. We could talk about anything. And he asked anything — zero filter.

One of the very first things he asked was about Jeff. “Are you sleeping with him?” What!? No! Most would have been offended by this bold question. I saw it from a different perspective. Deep down I knew that this was what most of those who saw us together must have assumed. Rich guy, young girl. I know what it looks like. I appreciated the fact that he was straight up with me, giving me the opportunity to defend myself versus simply making assumptions. And the beauty is that once that was out of the way we were ready to have a truly candid and meaningful conversation.

He told me more of his fascinating story. How he’d started a tech startup while at school — and sold it. How he’d then bought the Utah Flash[an NBA D league team], rebuilt their home stadium, revitalized the franchise — and sold it. But still he didn’t feel fulfilled. He felt a deep yearning to express himself creatively — so he bought a place in Malibu to pursue movie production in Hollywood. Already he had an impressive list of movie credits. Wow. What an incredible life. He must be so happy I thought.

I thought wrong. And he urged me not to make the same mistake.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco

We talked about our families and he asked me what my husband does. I said he was a banker. Seemed like a simple answer to me, but it seemed to shock him. When I asked why this surprised him he simply shrugged and responded that, I struck him as the last person who’d be married to a banker. Interesting observation I thought. And perceptive.

He spoke passionately about his work while simultaneously lamenting the non-stop work schedule. Sure, he got to work with all the big stars, but he hardly got to see his family. On paper he had everything — in real life he had no time nor freedom. Always a tradeoff. For all his success, he failed to find the balance to enjoy it.

That’s when he mentioned that he was wrapping up a movie in a few weeks with no concrete plans after. Finally, a break! That’s when he had an idea — why don’t we plan a crazy adventure together? Having known each other for less than 12 hours this again seemed like a crazy proposition. But then again maybe that’s why we liked it so much. The idea of escaping with a near stranger was appealing. What better way to leave life behind than to go on an experience with someone completely new — zero history or baggage? So we started concocting a plan: we threw all sorts of ideas out there: from surfing to heli skiing.

I can’t tell you how refreshing and energizing it was to speak candidly, pour your heart out, and dream fearlessly with someone who held nothing back — no judgement and no reservations.

The next morning it was tough to leave California behind. In just three days, two people had fundamentally altered my perspective on, well just about everything: success, life, and relationships.

I’ll always remember the moment when, after walking out of Stanford, Jeff stopped me and said “I meet a ton of people. And a lot of entrepreneurs. You’re one in a million. Don’t ever give up.

I’ll also never forget how Brandt challenged me to envision my life ten years from now: did I really want to be unhappily married to a man that clearly wasn’t right for me? He made me realize that this was my moment of truth. I was young and I didn’t have kids. I had an out. Don’t make the same mistake he had. Don’t get stuck.

When I got back home I was distant, in my own little world. California had opened my eyes. And once opened they cannot be closed. You cannot un-see. Up to then I’d lived comfortable life and settled on a husband who — if I may be blunt — I’d outgrown.

I had experienced a whole other world and I was no longer satisfied with the safety of my hometown. I had met incredible people and now craved more of the stimulating conversation. A mediocre life would not be enough. I wasn’t growing and frankly I was bored. I wanted to dream big — surrounded by big dreamers.

California changed me. I was a ticking time bomb. It was only a matter of time.