Disney and bread

Man wearing astronaut helmet, Bob Ross baseball hat balanced on top
Loaf of homemade baked bread
Man, woman, and two children dressed in Star Wars costumes

We were filming at Disneyland. There was a lot to do before I was allowed on set; I had to take photos of myself for the production office. NDAs to sign.

Costume approvals. Passes for hidden parking lots, employee-only vans to be boarded. I had been home with two little kids for over 8 years. For the first time, this middle-aged stay-at-home dad was finally able to seriously pursue a childhood dream: acting in Los Angeles.

Once I reached the gathering area for the cast, we were escorted backstage.

There was Boba Fett, and his chaperone. "Probably on his way to Galaxy's Edge," whispered one of my castmates, conspiratorially. We were all whispering, I think, because we were all equally in awe of where we were.

Minnie and Micky, still in character, walked by on their way back to their holding areas. It was strange to be able to hear the noise their oversize feet made as they shuffled by. I didn't know why I marked that noise at first. Then realized I was hearing it because in the park, with its soundscapes and throngs of guests, that noise was never audible. They waved and blinked at us. We were behind the magic!

I grabbed a few pictures in the areas I was allowed to take a photo. But a picture backstage? That would have gotten me immediately fired and escorted out of the park. I planned, after the show aired, to share these images with a few of my more Disney-obsessed family members and friends. I am realizing now, I never showed them to anyone.

Ten years of waiting to try my luck as an actor, and boom: three gigs, right out of the gate. It was a hoot. When the virus took over, all the shows were canceled. All my jobs were canceled. It all stopped as soon as it started.

There are heavier burdens; I'm still breathing, I'm not on a ventilator. But it was a heartbreak. A dream dashed. And now, all anyone can say is, "We don't know if the film industry will ever return to California."

We were standing in an area overlooking a lagoon, filming a segment when I heard one of the guests say, "I'm not sure we should be here today." His wife, clearly fearful, said, "I didn't want to say anything. I think we should leave too." Off they went. I felt my body shock itself into a panic attack. The virus was real. And I was standing in an area teeming with international travelers.

Days later came the first lockdown.

When it gets quiet, I wonder what might have been. I can only know what is:

homeschool. Bread baking. Legos. Bootleg haircuts. Halloween with more than one mask. I wear a helmet, now, if I leave the house.

Our home is an island in the middle of Los Angeles. I try not to hope too much. But sometimes, I allow myself to at least pretend we'll leave it.