Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Creating a life | TheUnion.com

Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Creating a life

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

It’s graduation season. As I watch and listen to parents going through the whirlwind of emotions associated with this monumental change, I find myself realizing in disbelief it has been four years since our youngest two offspring graduated from high school.

The sense that time is slipping by at warp speed is not lost on me.

Each of our offspring has set off on their paths since graduating from high school and (thankfully) moving out on their own. They have dabbled in higher education or moved straight into the workforce.

They have found careers and career paths that include the Navy, firefighting, manufacturing, software, and the arts. A couple of them are still searching. One is traveling the world.

Most of them have moved back home temporarily and there have been some financial bailouts.

But for the most part, once they left, they have shown tenacity in remaining independent.

It has also been four years since my son graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a bachelor of fine arts in theatre, with an emphasis in acting. About five months later, he, along with one of his best friends, moved to New York City to try their hands at life in the big city.

In that short time, a lot has happened. After spending a year in a 64 square foot apartment which they shared for a mere $1,000 per month — the bathroom was down the hall, shared by five others and the room was so small they could not lay down vertically on the floor — they found two more roommates and moved to a sketchy, if not outright illegal, triplex in Brooklyn. From there, the dynamic duo eventually found separate lives and ventured out on their own.

Over the course of four years, my son has moved 10 times.

In addition to the nine months in Brooklyn, he lived in Ithaca for a summer performing Shakespeare at Cornell University, worked as a whales and trails tour guide in Alaska (twice), and since his return to New York City has lived in four sublets with his (very serious) girlfriend.

He has paid his bills, (including student loans and credit card debt acquired after a three-week pilgrimage to England) selling comedy tickets in Times Square (for one day), toiling for a concert ticketing agency, and, most consistently, working in a variety of coffee houses and restaurants, proudly providing caffeine to three of the five boroughs.


All the while, he has worked on his craft.

From “open mic” nights doing stand-up comedy, to taking Improvisation classes at the acclaimed Upstanding Citizens Brigade (actress and Saturday Night Live alumna Amy Poehler is a founder). This week alone he is in four shows at the newly formed Reckless Theatre. And he writes. He has written screenplays and a pilot for television and just last week launched the first of nine episodes of a Web series which he wrote, starred, produced, and edited, learning a lot along the way.

Doing so left him a little on the broke side, but all along the path he has self-funded.

If you are not easily offended by strong language, you can take a look at the first episode Sex Odyssey on Youtube. If you are so inclined, there is also a funding site to help reimburse production expenses.

My son’s story may be unusual in that he has been laser focused as he has taken on a less than secure career path, but he is not all that unique.

His buddy who moved to New York with him just got married, which resulted in a reunion of sorts with some of their closest pals. They are all working and trying to find something meaningful to do with their lives.

When I look back to the day-to-day activities that ran our life just four years ago with four of seven still at home to today (when the nest is once again empty), it is difficult to believe! I am thankful our children are healthy and happy. I feel lucky.

And I can see clearly that this generation is not so unlike the youth of generations past.

The world seems a bit smaller and is moving a bit faster. But they are, more like us than different.

They are searching for meaning, and finding a way to creating a life they can call their own.

To that end, I received an important reminder from a phrase emblazoned on a co-workers shirt: all who wander are not lost.

While change is not easy, our job as parents is to give them the tools to succeed. Now it is time to sit back, hold on and enjoy the ride.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is the business development manager at The Union. Contact her at hgflores@theunion.com.

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