A security guard at LAX circled my car skeptically, likely discerning between a terrorist threat and a careless idiot bidding a beloved traveler au revoir.
As I explained myself, all smiles, he warned "Next time, you're gonna get towed."
I unlocked my idling SUV and pulled away from the curb.
I had just watched the love of my young life walk off with three rolling suitcases, after nine dizzying months together in Los Angeles.
One year earlier, we'd met while walking toward the security line at another LAX terminal, both headed for the same destination.
Rather than some dating app, we stumbled through an awkward bit of introductory conversation, sharing a cab ride after we landed.
For the record, she asked me to share her taxi.
We shared a goodbye hug and agreed to reconnect when she returned to L.A. a few weeks later to begin a new job in the film business.
Our first date took us to Hollywood Forever for a Cinespia screening of "True Romance." She breathlessly confessed it was her favorite film.
Two lives, as is the romantic tendency, gradually began to intertwine in the coming weeks and months.
Arm in arm we began conquering the L.A. nightlife, downtown, Hollywood and Santa Monica, and around again in a laughing blur. We owned L.A.
The initial bliss of meeting and reveling in the untainted joy of early love eventually gave way to small cracks beneath an otherwise glittering surface.
Her new job proved exceptionally difficult to manage. As an assistant to a producer she remained at beck and call from 6:45 a.m. often until midnight.
My job, working for a Malibu rehab center, offered more autonomy. Which helps explain why, after our first year together, I began pushing back against her alcohol intake. My effort was not well received.
January saw us "take a break." A few weeks later we patched it up and fell quickly back under our love spell. Our connection was special, it was agreed, and nothing should get in the way of it.
In March, over dinner at Versailles in West L.A., she told me that she took a pregnancy test.
My stunned response, "It isn't mine," was perhaps not the best reaction.
After a surprisingly rational discussion, we agreed that neither of us was ready for the possibility of a child and decided to terminate the pregnancy.
Her job woes increased. Her immigration attorney, after promising a speedy visa, failed to deliver.
A new attorney recommended she leave the country or get married, and quick.
I went looking for a ring.
Meanwhile, we made a trip to a family planning center and obtained the necessary pharmaceuticals for an early termination.
We took the Catalina Express to Avalon for three days. She experienced one dreadful, painful day during the termination. We huddled together in the cozy dark of our charming Airbnb, watching "Apocalypto," eating pizza.
The next day we rented a golf cart and explored. From a pristine vista overlooking Avalon harbor, I bent to one quivering knee and asked her to marry me. I offered her an origami dollar bill folded into a ring in just such a way that the word "one" faced up, where the gemstone might sit.
She was my one, if ever there could be.
With the grim weight of potential parenthood shrugged from our shoulders, we grew closer.
Unfortunately, she kept bleeding.
While I was catching a plane to Copenhagen for work, she called me from the ER. She would need a surgical procedure. Fortunately, a dear friend joined her while I headed to Europe.
When I returned, our bond returned, surging strong as ever. I bought a proper diamond engagement ring and she quit her thankless job. We headed into spring floating on several weeks of savagely passionate love. My clothes and personal belongings followed me to her apartment.
During the coming days we found ourselves growing more and more contemptuous of each other. I scolded her for not fighting harder against her former boss. She railed at me for not being flexible with plans, for being jealous of her friends.
After two appalling shouting matches, a litany of boundaries crossed and 13 total days of cohabitating, I gathered my clothes, filled my car and sped away, furious and hurt.
What began as an apparent march into the arms of perfection — blessed by destiny, minted in reckless ecstasy — melted down just like any other exhausted relationship.
The tortured truth seemed to teach that regardless of who you are, how you meet or what you've gone through, love is a tricky animal to tame.
I remain grateful that although we blustered through so much heartache, we have been able to remain in contact.
I'm also perplexed as to how discovering love in real life didn't give us an edge toward lasting happiness.
Surely charm and chemistry should fare better than an app, right?
That we met in such a happenstance way seemed only to leave her bittersweet bon voyage that much more difficult to accept.
If destiny doesn't have a place in today's hookup oriented, app-fueled love life, what chance does any of us have?
The author lives in West Los Angeles and is a writer-photographer.
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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