It was our third date. I'd been single for three years, two on purpose. "P" said he wanted to go for a walk. I love walking, even if "nobody walks in L.A."
He chose a walk that began at a bridge over the Los Angeles River in Atwater Village. Not any bridge; the bridge with padlocks on it, like the one in Paris where lovers write their names with permanent marker on a lock and hang it there.
We continued on to the water's concrete edge. It was slippery with slimy green underfoot. That Sunday was 95 degrees. I enjoyed the sweating. We crossed Los Feliz Boulevard, walked down by the horse ranch, past a monster fig tree and toward the park. We had chicken pho for dinner. We walked past lemon trees on the way back, which I picked. (If it hangs onto the sidewalk, it's fair game; or if no one's looking and my arms are long enough, it's fair game to me.)
A couple more months of romantic stuff followed — stuff I hadn't had in forever.
Grown-up dinners out, and cooked at home.
Movies at home, and the theater, hanging out with his friends, his declarations such as "We're perfect for each other. We have matching OCD" and "I really, really like you."
Then, out of the blue he tells me he thinks he should be with someone more like … him.
I started seeing someone else immediately. Not my usual habit. I like a lot of time between people, but after getting the warm fuzzy rug pulled from under me, this one just appeared.
"J," a real Los Angeles boy, a fellow Pisces (he told me) who lives with a pet. Well, OK, he has two cats. He's fun. We have the same taste in stuff — in a lot of stuff — and in being naughty. (P was not naughty in any sense. He was a rule follower, a people pleaser, looked good on paper, a faux "nice guy"). After a few meet-ups, I decided J and I should just be friends and we still are.
I forced my thumb to start swiping again, like Beatrix Kiddo telling her toe to wiggle in "Kill Bill."
Lo and behold, I got someone really, really more like me. "N" and I both have UK passports and are dual citizens. We are misanthropes who like to walk in cemeteries. For our second date, I asked him to walk across the Sixth Street Bridge with me, on the last night it was open to the public, before it was torn down. We traversed a place and time that would soon cease to exist. On the bridge, N told me our initials, combined, form a palindrome. He's NDT and I'm TDN. Pretty neat.
We crossed back over the First Street Bridge, making a full loop after a mini tour of Boyle Heights. A helicopter went loudly round and round. We stopped at Osso — a word the same forward and backward — in DTLA. It means bone or marrow or home in other languages like Dutch, Portuguese and Italian. N and I stayed platonic.
More swiping, and fast forward to "J2."
Talk about more like me. He was a master at word games, grammar, labor history. He was well-read, had great hair, saved small animals on the regular, had purpose and self-determination. It was contagious. One night, I found myself back at the Sixth Street Bridge. We hopped a barrier, strolled down the middle and kissed, feeling the power of the whipping wind, along with a couple raindrops, holding hands all the way home, not to sleep a wink.
Heart thawing was happening. It was a good feeling to have again in the dead of winter, or anytime, really.
So what happened?
J2 became a cat hoarder and stopped "feeling it." After phases of being hot and cold, it ended cold and stale.
It's currently back up to 80-plus degrees and I'm having fun and feeling ardent about myself.
Sitting by the Fourth Street Bridge one day, my phone alerted me that "M" and I were a match. He grew up here and was visiting town and swiping. He's taught me about maintaining a certain type of innocence and for the first time in my life made me want to fly 400 miles to hug someone.
Me, the woman who has all her dating apps set on a 4-mile radius.
It's nice that I can still surprise myself.
I went to see him in the next state over where he rode me around on his motorcycle across highway overpasses on a gorgeous perfect day. Then he returned to Los Angeles and we drove over bridges on a lovely little out-of-town road trip.
Now, no longer forlorn, I wonder who I'll walk across the new Sixth Street Bridge with when it's completed in three years …
The author is a film producer in Los Angeles, and is working on a screenplay. She's on Twitter @paidtobenice