I was sitting at the picnic table, surrounded by some of the best people I know.  To my right was Kyle Ennis, one of my best friends.  This kid has been there for me in more ways than I can count.  He is truly an incredible being, and being around him is one of the highlights of my day.  Behind me were his folks, Kristin and Tim.  Equally as kindhearted.  Across from me was Janice Horak.  I’ve written about her a few times.  She is the subject of my film Somewhere Only We Know.  I am forever thankful that Janice has let me into her life on such an intimate level, and has continued to be an amazing friend and supporter.  In the general vicinity were many other amazing people.  We were all sitting talking about the film.  Tonight was the second screening of Somewhere Only We Know at Bobbers, my workplace and a place I’ve grown to love.  In a weird way, my worlds collided in one night.  My art, my film, my life for the last year was being shown to people who so rarely got to see this side of me.

In midst of a conversation, I looked down at my phone right as I heard the news.  I dropped my phone and looked around.  I didn’t know how to say the words that were about to escape my mouth.  I just said it. “We won.”  Everyone looked at me kind of surprised, kind of confused. I didn’t prompt this conversation.  Soon, they connected the dots to what I was talking about.  Janice and Kyle both were glowing and repeated “We won!”  Somewhere Only We Know was just named Best Documentary Feature at Alternative Film Festival in Toronto, CA.

The next while seemed like life was a blur.  Time didn’t past.  I just existed in this swarm of shock and awe that can’t be explained.  I got up and ran inside and immediately found everyone who needed to know.  I told Kaytee, a good friend and coworker (a Bobbers coworker, I work at too many places).  Her face lit up and we jumped and hugged.  I think she said something to me, but it all was just blurry.  I yelled it to everyone who was smoking their cigarettes at the front picnic table.  They were so happy.  High fives and hugs were shared, but I was running to catch Roni and Dylan who were in their cars leaving.

Roni Ruzicka is my cousin, coworker, and friend.  We grew up very close, and had drifted for a few years.  We became very close again when I started working at Bobbers the summer after my sophomore year.  We realized we had a lot of similar passions, and both shared a creative driven mindset.  She is one of my favorite humans ever.  She was with me throughout many of the biggest moments, and she is always there when I need her most.  I was there when she got engaged just a few weeks prior to Dylan Urban.  Dylan also works at Bobbers with us.  He is becoming one of my favorite people in my life.  Roni and Dylan had been hearing updates about Somewhere ever since it was just a concept.  I’m talking concept as in “Hey, what if I made a video?” and watched it sprout into a documentary film.  They were at the premiere and both cried because the story moved them and because of what the premiere had meant to them.

I came running from the picnic table to catch them just as they were about to leave the parking lot.  I yelled out to Dylan and told him “WAIT! DYLAN WAIT!”.  Looking concerned, he pulled the car over.  He rolled the window down and I yelled “WE WON!”  He parked the car.  Roni and Dylan jumped out of the car, flinging their doors open and gave me hugs.  They were so proud of me. I don’t even know how to explain the feeling of love within this blur.  I just know I felt a lot of it.

I returned to the patio and told Janice thank you for everything and she told me she was proud of me.  And she said Richard was proud of me.  That hit me hard.  I hadn’t fully processed it until much later.  The fact that she declared that her husband who had passed away was proud of me brings tears to my eyes now that I am thinking about it.

There were countless people after Janice that told me congrats, gave me hugs, and gave me love.  The next notable person that impacted my blur of happiness was Josh.  Josh Urban (Dylan’s brother, my soon to be very weirdly related cousin, also my manager at Bobbers (isn’t life weird?)) told me he was so proud of me.  He later insisted that he got pictures with not only myself, but also with Kyle Ennis.  His praise meant the world to me.

I called Shawn.  Not surprisingly, he didn’t answer at first.  When he called me back, I picked up the phone, and without saying hello, without saying how are you?, I told him “SHAWN WE WON.”  We talked for the next several minutes, but he kept just saying “Wow, I don’t even know what to say.  I am at a loss for words.  This is incredible.  Congratulations.”  He said we’re celebrating tomorrow once I get to BIG.

I can’t even begin to state all of the praise we got.  I am so glad that we got to touch so many people with our story.  I truly believe its an important one.  I am so glad that there are so many people who have been moved by the fruits of my labor.  It’s been a wild ride.  More than ever, I am realizing that we are still not nearly done with this journey.  It’s not to late to join the ride.

much love. talk soon.