We were in the middle of Texas when I got a call to see if I was available to work as a set decorator on 2nd unit for a sequel to an action movie shooting in Atlanta.
This would be my third go-round with the franchise.
Having been on them before, as well as a number of other big-budget action movies, I knew that I was more likely than not in for a roller-coaster ride.
The first couple of weeks were easy, which was really good since I was juggling moving into our new place and making sure Skye was doing well, adjusting to our new pad and settling into some of our old patterns and haunts ie circus class, X-3, Savi Market etc.
But as it inevitably happens, especially on these big action pics, things started getting crazy and it didn't seem too out of the ordinary to be rushing to my office at 6:45 am to pick up blueprints to get to one of my dressers on one set, then overseeing the dressing of another one during the day and then "opening" a different set that night and hanging out for a change-over that saw me finally walking away around 4:30 a.m. just shy of going non-stop for 24 hours.
But that's the business I'm in, plus I ended up running into an old pal I hadn't seen in years that I'd worked with in Mexico on the Legend of Zorro. In fact, we were roommates and when I left, I asked him to bring back the bicycle I'd bought while I was down there. I'd get it from him later. I just didn't imagine it to be 10 years later and in Atlanta.
That was at the beginning of my 17 day long stretch that had many long days, none quite as long as that but sometimes pretty close, including getting a wake-up call at 3:45 am for a scout "at the end of the day". Their days happened to be nights.
We were invited to not one but two "Orphan Thanksgivings" one on the actual day and another on Saturday.
I was still running on adrenaline from the job and was able to make it to the first Orphan gathering but ended up crashing for the rest of the weekend.
I managed to make it through a yoga class and then a family matinee but just didn't have the energy to make it to another Thanksgiving gathering, no matter how much I had been looking forward to seeing a lot of the folks there.
Then Saturday evening, I got a series of text messages.
"Paul Walker died this afternoon"
"OMG is it true"
"I just heard Paul Walker just died, is that true"
It couldn't be. It had to be another internet hoax.
And even after reading reports saying it wasn't a hoax. I didn't believe it.
I would go to sleep and wake up in the morning and it would turn out to be a hoax.
Unfortunately that didn't happen.
We went to see friends that evening for a post-Thanksgiving pot-luck, a sharing of left-overs which I think is a great new tradition.
Many of the people there were also working on the show. We tried not to talk about Saturday's tragic event.
I didn't think I would write at all about Paul Walker's death.
But after walking by a memorial set up in the conference room at the office, I feel it would be disingenuous not to.
Even though this would be my third Fast and Furious project, I am rarely around the actors, particularly when not working on first unit.
I had met him when I had taken over decorating 2 Fast 2 Furious. We didn't say much to each other, if anything. But he was down to earth and seemed to be pretty cool.
And that's what I've always heard about him.
I wasn't a fan of the Fast and Furious movies. They were a job for me; a good-paying, high-profile job that I had some good-times on, made some life-long friends and some pretty interesting experiences.
Thus I didn't know that much about Paul Walker.
As it turns out, he was a pretty special guy.
He trained in BJJ with a lot of the same guys I trained with albeit years apart.
He was involved in several charities and humanitarian aid efforts, in a very hands-on yet quiet way that really deserves respect and admiration.
And much more, better for people who knew him to go into than me, but I would have been remiss not to mention him.