I was new to Southern California, starving for friends and looking for a fresh start in the backyard of a Spanish-style duplex in L.A.'s Miracle Mile.
You see, I was desperately trying to break into a tightknit group of women who met regularly for a casual, outdoor yoga class. But after weeks of awkwardly contorting myself into pigeon, crow and other poses named after birds, I'd made zero progress.
For most of my life, I'd settled for the friends or men who pursued me. Putting myself out there was as frightening as those damn headstands everyone else kicked into so gracefully.
But that day was going to be different. I was determined to score an invitation to the post-yoga brunch at some Melrose hot spot. However, while strategizing in warrior pose, the crack of a mat hitting the ground behind me disrupted my focus.
The mat belonged to some guy I quickly dismissed as an arrogant, wannabe frat boy. (We hadn't quite made it to the "dropping your judgment" part of class.)
Talking throughout the workout, this latecomer was screwing with my chakras and — more important — stealing the attention of all the women whose friendship I craved. I instantly hated him. His entire presence was an obstacle to the better life of juice fasts and inspirational group selfies awaiting me.
I'd spent weeks trying to appear hip enough for these women. Sure, I'd been basically ignoring them (it was a habit I'd formed as a kid to protect myself from rejection), but I'd hoped my silence portrayed a philosophical deepness.
Shockingly, despite my constant eye rolling at the chatty new guy, my plan seemed to work.
One of the girls invited me to a barbecue after class. It turned out to be a promotional opportunity for a cultish life coach in Van Nuys, but I didn't care. I would drink the Kool-Aid for a chance to hang with the cool kids.
Determined to fit in, I piled my plate with kale. Unfortunately, munching on salad like an aloof rabbit wasn't the most inviting look. While standing alone, I suddenly spotted a familiar face. I could have sworn it was a close friend, someone I'd known forever ...
But, it was just Kevin — the yoga attention-stealer — and he appeared to be captivating one of the girls I'd been befriending at a snail's pace. What could frat-jerk possibly say that was so fascinating? I knew from some embarrassing Facebook stalking that she was only interested in her muscled South African boyfriend. The same boyfriend who suddenly stole her away.
Lurking behind Kevin, I leaned in and whispered, "That was awkward."
He laughed. Kevin flashed an earnest smile that turned my heart from judgment to intrigue. I quickly learned he wasn't a jerk at all. In fact, he was warm and inviting. He made me feel so safe I found myself opening up and completely forgot my initial mission to befriend the yoga girls. My priorities had suddenly shifted.
We eventually moved to a quiet corner — and although I was sitting on a hard, wooden bench on a chilly night, I'd never felt more comfortable.
I looked for Kevin when I left, wondering if he'd ask for my number. Who'd have thought my first true connection in Los Angeles was the one person I'd tried to shun? I was questioning whether I wanted to hang as friends or "something more" when I spotted him making our yoga instructor laugh so hard she was crying. My eyes widened. Why wasn't he over here making me laugh?
I guess I did, indeed, want something more.
I didn't see Kevin again until one fateful morning when just he and I showed up for class.
Falling on my old habit, I ignored Kevin throughout the workout. As soon as we'd said namaste, I ran out without even rolling up my mat. I was nervous he was going to ask me out or — if I'm honest — nervous he would not.
Hours later I found myself on Kevin's Facebook profile and made the choice to click "Add Friend."
For the first time in my life, I was on the pursuit.
I spent the day frantically hitting refresh. No new messages. No friend accept alert. Nothing. Just a voice in my head reasoning why he hadn't responded: "He thinks you're cold. He thinks you're a wannabe sorority girl. He thinks you only eat kale."
After checking for the 79th time, I finally got my response:
"Crazy. I just logged on to stalk you, but it turns out … you're obsessed with me!"
My insecurities flared. Who said I was obsessed?
But it was time to get honest. A lifetime of acting too cool was only getting me so far. More than I feared rejection, I wanted the adventure of putting my heart on the line.
We made plans to go ice skating at some makeshift Santa Monica rink … and it was the best first date of my entire life.
I showed Kevin my real self, and with his encouragement, I revealed that same person to the women from yoga. Turns out they thought the real me, the one who actually spoke, was as intriguing as I thought they were. I'd finally made it to the "dropping your judgement" part of class and stopped judging the person who mattered most — myself.
A former TV news anchor from Minnesota, Laura Seldon is now a writer living in Culver City with her husband. (Yes, the frat jerk from yoga turned out to be the love of her life). You can find her on Twitter @LauraSeldon.
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.
MORE L.A. LOVE STORIES …