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I was 25 and staring adamantine at a map of America. Along with my two abutting friends, Matt and Will, we’d absitively to accomplish acceptable on a longstanding chance for chance — to hop trains and hitchhike out west from our Massachusetts hometown — but the catechism remained: West, where?
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Portland? San Francisco? San Diego?
Some months before, Will had gone on bout with his brother’s band, and — as Will couldn’t stop reminding us — he’d collapsed adamantine for a woman in Venice Beach. She and Will had absolved all night, catastrophe up on the pier, the moon sparkling over the waves…
“OK, OK,” Matt and I said. “We get it.”
It was settled: We were activity to LA.
Three weeks of thumbed rides and trainyards later, we’d lucked into a allowance off Abbott Kinney Boulevard. Matt and Will aggregate the bed; I got the futon. Matt and I formed on the Venice Bank Boardwalk: Matt drew caricatures; I acclimated an old typewriter and a cycle of canvas to blazon “poems” for tourists. Some canicule we fabricated over a hundred dollars. Most canicule we fabricated abundant less. Aback business was slow, we jumped in the ocean.
Will, meanwhile, was dating the woman who’d brought us to Los Angeles. Many months into their relationship, they arrive me for tacos at a Mexican atom on Lincoln Boulevard. As it angry out, Will’s adherent had additionally arrive her friend, Lizzy.
It was a bureaucracy — and acknowledge God.
Lizzy was fun. Funny. Talkative. Gorgeous. We laughed over chips and guacamole. How had we never met?! — she lived a block off the Boardwalk, we must’ve anesthetized ceremony added a thousand times — well, whatever, we were affair now, what should we do? What we did was plan a alarmist party. A ceremony later, we threw that alarmist party. We danced like nerds. We sat by an alfresco blaze pit like nerds. We inched our chairs afterpiece to ceremony added like nerds. Sparks flew.
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Lizzy was Los Angeles, built-in and raised. She skateboarded, she rollerbladed, she swung kettlebells on the beach. She apprehend tarot cards. She kept crystals in her bra. She’d developed up in Venice, and she showed me her neighborhood’s acclaimed airing streets, its canals, the colors blossom from every artery assurance and sidewalk crack. She’d aloof concluded a abhorrent relationship, and added than annihilation she capital to be free. I was blessed to be chargeless with her.
If we weren’t pedaling the bike aisle to Hermosa Beach, we were hiking Topanga, walking to the Marina to say accost to the seals, agreeable a beer on lifeguard angle #29 as the sun fabricated the ocean go crazy with pink. Lizzy lived in a rent-controlled Santa Monica accommodation that arrive the sounds of the ocean through any window at any time. We were alert to the ocean one night aback I asked her to ally me.
“Date me for three years and afresh ask me again,” Lizzy said.
But our mid-20s weren’t so serious. Lizzy had to see added people. I had to see added people. I had rides to catch. I headed to Seattle, Mexico City, Panama and aback again. Sometimes, aback I chock-full through Los Angeles, Lizzy wasn’t consistently there — she was rock-climbing in Joshua Tree or snowboarding in Mammoth … so I’d leave a agenda on her door. Once, I larboard a brace of ladybug stickers, to admonish her of us. Added times, she was home and ordered me to unpack, declaring me her “three-day boyfriend.”
When I confused aback east to accomplishment school, we wrote absolute belletrist to ceremony other. After graduating, I hit the alley afresh for Los Angeles. I capital to see Will and Matt, but — sorry, guys — my aboriginal stop was Lizzy. She opened her aperture and declared me her “one-month boyfriend.”
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One night during that august month, I noticed a adornment about her neck. I opened it. Inside were the two ladybug stickers I’d larboard on her aperture so continued ago. My eyes went blurry. Those ladybugs said it all. I captivated the kitchen adverse to abiding myself.
Lizzy smiled and kissed me: “Three years.”
“I know,” I said.
And this time we were.
This summer, amidst the uprisings and COVID-19 spike, we acclaimed our five-year anniversary. We alive with Lizzy’s ancestor now in the abode breadth Lizzy grew up.
On Sundays we accouter out our bikes and accompany the Venice Electric Light Parade. We door-knock for burghal board candidates who abutment the Green New Deal. We accompany picnics to appointment Lizzy’s mother’s grave at Woodlawn Cemetery. We advise accidentally (Lizzy, college; me, fourth grade). Weekends we bodysurf with our niece and nephew.
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When we sit bottomward with the ancestors for Christmas dinner, I’m the sole being at the table who isn’t a affiliate of the Screen Actors Guild.
We are so L.A.
I anticipate of all the anchorage and railroad advance in America, and how the appropriate set of balustrade at aloof the appropriate time helped this New England boy accomplish a California dream appear accurate with a bewitched Los Angeles woman. Every ceremony division I get the best allowance ever: activity with Lizzy.
It’s alarming to accede all the detours, the millions of alternating routes that could accept beatific us elsewhere, or brought me to Lizzy too early, or too late.
But I bethink too that every set of balustrade is affiliated to every added set of balustrade — acceptation there’s no absolute alpha or end, aloof a ceaseless ride, and I can’t delay to see breadth it takes us next.
The columnist is a abecedary and biographer in Los Angeles. His website is nickfg.com and he is on Twitter @FullerGo
L.A. Affairs chronicles the chase for adventurous adulation in all its august expressions in the L.A. area, and we appetite to apprehend your accurate story. We pay $300 for a appear essay. Email [email protected] You can acquisition acquiescence guidelines here.
This adventure originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
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