Some matches are made in heaven. Others are found in L.A. traffic. That's where I met my recent match.
An ArtNight Pasadena was getting underway when I boarded a shuttle and headed to a new exhibit. After admiring splashes of color, chatting with local artists and listening to a few riffs of live jazz, I searched for another event bus to take me across Pasadena to meet a friend.
At the transfer site, several full buses passed me by before one finally stopped. I stepped aboard and texted my friend "Caught my bus. Running late." Then, leaning back, I witnessed the bustle and glow of the city from my window seat.
As the bus stopped again, a group of passengers seated around me disembarked, and a tall, dark and rather handsome man came aboard. He approached, paused at my row, and slid into the seat beside me.
He said, "Hi."
"Hello," I answered, noticing the engaging brown eyes behind his Clark Kent-style glasses and a hint of silver at his temples.
We chatted about the unseasonable weather, and as the ride continued, we shared tips on where to find fresh seafood. We made mock bets on how long it would take to get to the next traffic light. We laughed.
What should have been a 10-minute drive turned into 20.
We talked about art, literature and music. Then, over the chugging and idling of the engine, we both revealed our relationship status: single.
At the final stop, we moved together to the exit. The shuttle's doors opened, and my ever-patient friend came over to greet me. I introduced her to the man who had been sitting beside me, and, after some more conversation, he invited us to join him for dinner.
My friend and I politely declined, as we were rushing off to attend a dance performance that had been a must-see on our to-do list. After, we rejoined the creative bustle of the streets. Then, through the blare of horns and roar of motors, my friend and I ended up merging back into the path of the handsome stranger.
For the rest of the evening, the three of us walked and talked as we explored venues together. Finally, at the Pacific Asia Museum, we passed a display of Chinese zodiac animals.
"When's your birthday?" he asked.
I told him.
He reacted with shock.
"Really? Mine too," he said, pulling out his driver's license to back up his claim.
After confirming his statement, I pointed out that the four digits of his street address matched mine exactly.
"That's weird," my friend added.
Just then, the museum staff escorted us and a few stragglers out of the building. ArtNight had ended. As we headed back to our respective cars, I exchanged numbers with my new friend. But a part of me wondered if, after our exhaustive banter, he and I would have anything left to say.
Two days later he called and we made a date.
We met at a French bistro, Julienne, in San Marino. It seemed the lavender shirts we both wore, by chance, served as a springboard for renewed conversation.
After an early dinner at the bistro's market, we saw a movie. And after the movie, we strolled around, looking in shop windows and, incredibly, found more to talk about.
One date led to another. Exploring L.A. together began animating each weekend and some weekdays. We boarded the Gold Line to the Music Center for summer sing-alongs. We took tango lessons under the stars in Grand Park, and rode our bikes along the L.A. River.
We celebrated our shared birthday on the candlelit terrace at Il Fornaio in Pasadena. We joined with friends to dance to reggae and listen to bands in the park. We met members of each other's family. At the holidays, we sampled tamales.
And, after steering through a few twists and bumps, we whispered the "L" word.
"Love does not consist in gazing at each other," the French author and poet Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote, "but in looking outward in the same direction."
But at just shy of one year of dating, we came to a fork in the relationship road.
At this juncture, we had to acknowledge what we had both sensed from the beginning. That, despite the outward appearance of sharing so much, our core values and future visions diverged profoundly. In fact, once we stopped looking so intensely at each other, we knew that the subtle discomfort we had felt sprung from our trying to hang on tight while heading in entirely different directions.
"No," my friend said when I told her about the breakup. "You two were soul mates."
And maybe we were. Soul mates who nudged each other back into the flow of romance, coming together briefly to impart needed joy and new lessons.
From this experience, I now see the promise of meeting a new friend or potential partner everywhere in this bustling city.
That is, if I take time to look up and say, "Hello."
The author lives in Los Angeles and writes about culture, community, wildlife and the environment. Her website is FelineFables.com
L.A. Affairs chronicles the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.
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