Those Times Adrien Brody and The Toyota Grand Prix Saved Me….

Last week, it was announced that this will be the final year of the infamous Celebrity/Pro Race , which has been a major selling point at The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, since 1980.

While Toyota has a multi-year deal with The Grand Prix of Long Beach and will be keeping its namesake, the auto company is moving its headquarters out  to Texas; and, thus, there really is no reason they feel to keep this staple of the weekend going.

This definitely is a “sign of the times” for me, and reminds me that I am not getting any younger, and that some of my most fondest memories grow older with me.

In 2009, I was on the verge of moving away from my very sheltered life in Solvang. During my teen years and early 20s, I was usually on my own; either working or holed up in my room, watching movies, writing like a crazy person and absorbing my music on my trusty headphones. Think of the character Simon and Garfunkel sing of in I Am a Rock.

Although, I didn’t mean to fit that song so well (“I have my books/and my poetry to protect me;/I am shielded in my armor,/Hiding in my room, safe within my womb./I touch no one and no one touches me.”) Those lines fit my life 10 years ago to a T, but, I didn’t mean to be an island! At last able to start a game plan, I came down to stay with my Grandma in Long Beach that Spring, and, discovered that while I would be in town, the race would be going down….and, that Adrien Brody, my favorite actor, would be in the Celebrity race.

Looking back, it is  humorous for me to even think that I fretted and wondered so much if I should try to go; Wouldn’t it be crowded? Where would I park? What if I get lost?! Yep, I was that girl. I continue to use “Baby Mary” as inspiration for getting out there more and attempting to lead an adventurous, curious life. But, those were my thoughts, yet, I wanted to go and find my future husband, er, Adrien, but, was afraid of being somewhere so new, on my own.

Alas, I went that Friday and Saturday; Friday brought me much trial and error but, thanks to awesome, friendly people, I navigated out my map to find Adrien, and, on Saturday?

2009
2009

2009 and my first time at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach represented so much in my life; a time of new beginnings, new hopes, new adventures. I moved out that Fall, on my own. Just me and my new Disneyland annual pass.

Some extremely difficult times in my life followed. Some, self-inflicted, and some rough patches? Just bad luck and lousy boys. When March, 2010, came, I found myself in one of the worst times in my life (the other will come). I ended up back home early from New York, in Solvang, nearly in a wheelchair and unable to walk with a bad knee. As hopeful as I felt the year prior, I felt no hope at ALL and it was all now complete hopelessness.

Then, guess what helped me get back on track?

2010
2010

When I was home up north, super depressed and not excited for a damn thing, as soon as I read Adrien would be returning to the race in 2010, it gave me that sense of hope once again. I had to get better. I had a lot of walking coming up the next month.

And, while I was not as cured as I am now from my knee (which I only just found out was most likely parvo virus), I made it to the race that year both days, and chatted with Adrien, and gave him his birthday gift.

Ready for another sob story?! Adrien saved the day once again when he was announced as a racer in the 2012 Grand Prix. That was another year that got off to a very bumpy start. Something that was an elephant in the room that I was not addressing was my depression. On top of that, I physically felt like crap. It was yet another “Could be worse, but could be better” time for me. I finally addressed my depression issues, and, on top of seeing Adrien once again, it was also when Along Comes Mary was launched!

Just like my first experience at The Grand Prix, 2012 was another time I was reminded at the kindness of folks: a lady in the VIP lounge noticed my never-ending lurking at the exit (waiting for Adrien). “Want to go in?” I look behind me, Is she talking to me? “I am going to head home and it looks like you’re waiting for someone. Take my pass!”

The ultimate “Toto, We’re not in Kansas anymore” moment; next thing I know, I am in THE lounge. Adrien and his family are 2 feet away from me enjoying their lunch. I am polite and don’t sit down, but, I do get a selfie!

2012
2012

While I am surprised and sad to see The Celebrity/Pro Race retire, I will ALWAYS be so grateful for all the times it felt like Adrien Brody was saving my life, or at-least cheering me up during some rough times, and always, that first time when I had on my rose-colored glasses.

Do yourself a favor and check out The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Its hands down the best weekend in the city, and you have one more chance to see the Celebrity/Pro Race. xo

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