She waited for me in a convertible mini cooper that had the colors of the UK flag plastered all over it.
It was unexpected. Unexpected because when we talked over the phone I didn't remember her to have an English accent. As soon as I opened the door to my building and noticed that car, twenty thousand thoughts attacked my brain: Is she English? Oh, cool, convertible! But it's a hideous car. HIDEOUS! Ugh I need to get a license already, been living in Los Angeles for a few months already, I need to learn how to drive. This one must be expensive, no? Okay she must be a pretentious LA type if she is driving THIS car. But Adolfo introduced us...there is no way he would have anyone short of amazing in his life....' So many thoughts were running through my head that first time I met Sofia. But when she turned her face towards me, and her shiny bright smile came along - my thoughts stopped altogether.
Sofia distracted me with her effortless calm essence. It shined far more than the car that came along with her. It shined far more than my monkey brain. Her essence was like meditation in a human form.
Later in our conversation she randomly mentioned how she was 'subleting' her friend's car. It felt like she had read my mind and made sure to soothe it with that answer. I was at ease around her from then on. We became instant friends. And I don't say that lightly... it isn't easy for me to be an instant friend. I often bring along some trust issues or cold distance when meeting new people. Out of insecurity most likely. But Sofia had the kind of peacefulness that would probably make anyone an instant friend to her.
A month or so later, after a hike in Griffith Park, I got a taste of understanding to why she was so... what's the word....divine: She used to be a business finance person, a wall street type, a money mover and shaker in New York City. Then, she had nearly died of a peanut allergy, and had decided to alter her entire life. From then on she did only what she wanted to do. For her, it was being an actress, a writer, a producer, a storyteller. Living a creative life was what her heart always wanted her to live, and when she had the unexpected gift of a near death experience - she received the message loud and clear.
I remember sitting on the roof of my Los Feliz apartment, in a hot afternoon, listening in to her inspiring tale that brought her to Los Angeles, that connected her to Adolfo - another creative spirit that later, and luckily for me, connected her to me. I was in awe of that story and her openness to share it. It was easy for her, she was simply telling her truth.
Sofia and I started talking art, and drama, and storytelling, and all things acting and writing related. Once Sofia shared with me a link to the commencement speech Brit Marling gave in Northwestern, where Brit ends her beautiful speech with the words 'Hold on to your tribe.'
We both loved that speech.
I had a creative kindred spirit in Sofia. She was a member of my creative tribe. I knew it and wanted to follow Brit's advice and hold on to my tribe. Sofia and I quickly shifted from newfound friends, to writing accountability partners. We would meet at our favorite neighborhood coffee shop, and set up a timer to begin our work. And then share the work with each other. We brainstormed a few ideas and even set up plans for a short film we were going to do. It was a spoof about the 'Amazing Race'. We were going to shoot in Griffith Park, a sort of mockumentary about making an Amazing Race audition tape. We had so much fun planning this little silly spoof, but before coming into fruition, the wind of opportunities took Sofia back to New York City. Though I was sad she was leaving the city of angels, I was understanding and supportive, and went on to other creative ideas and collaborators.
Sofia and I continued chatting from afar in all the different medias of email, of social media and so on. And we would hang out every time I flew to NYC. Once we even met with Adolfo at an Italian restaurant in Cobble Hill. (What was that restaurant? I want to go back there. I NEED to go back there. I hope it lasts Post-Covid.)
As unexpected as it was to see Sofia in that mini cooper, it was unexpected when she died.
She was in Mexico filming, and once again the deadly allergy got to her, but this time for good.
She was 28. Or maybe 32. Who knows? Her wisdom and essence knew no limit of age so it doesn't matter.
But it was too soon. Of course.
Divine creatures like her? Even at the age of 90 would have been taken too soon.
Along with loss and grief that takes one on an emotional ride, I remember how overwhelmed I was with the guilty feeling of 'Did she know how much I admired her?' 'Did I share with her the impact she made on me?' Sometimes I still wonder those thoughts as I go along with my day, four years later. I occasionally find myself scrolling down her instagram page. A page that lives on infinitely even four years after she had passed. Her post before the last one is a brief video of hers, running on a beach, disappearing off the frame, sporting that bright calm smile of hers. A smile that made people fall in love with her. She wrote a hashtag below that post. It said #leapyear.
And it was her leap year.
Somewhere inside, did she know it?
Years before, she knew that her time was limited, so she was going to do only what she wanted with it.
I am so beyond grateful that I got to be on her path. That I had some precious moments with this divine creature that fell into my life unexpectedly.
Thank you Sofia, a guiding light up above and in the ground.
If you are listening, please know how much I loved you. How much I admired you. And what impact you left on me.
I hope you and Adolfo are having delicious Italian meals in the other side, discussing all things art and creativity, and shining your twinkles on us all from above.
In April 2020, while experiencing her first ever global pandemic, Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog to keep her creative writing wheels rolling.
Header Art: Daniel Landerman