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Love can be found in L.A., if you're willing to ditch the wrong husband

Love can be found in L.A., if you're willing to ditch the wrong husband
(Sarah Wilkins / For Los Angeles Times)

After I escape a two-year marriage to a French drummer, I head to Southeast Asia at age 35 — with my guitar. I clear rice fields in Laos, learn to scuba dive in Thailand, sing at bars across Malaysia and write an album of songs.

I return to West L.A. as "Piano Teacher to the Stars" and play a new song for the mother of one of my students. She produces a TV show and loves the song. A few months later, she agrees to feature it on her show — my first song license!

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A music friend suggests I get a publishing-administration deal. "What's that?" I naively ask. She explains that when a song plays internationally, an administrator makes sure I receive royalties. She says, "Call Guy." Guy tells me to call David. I dial and get a recorded message from his office with music submission details. I put 15 of my best songs on a CD and mail them. Then I wait by the phone for three days, one week, two weeks. I can't stand it anymore. So I call him.

He takes my call directly (note: Don't be afraid of calling twice).

David loves my songs and wants a meeting. Can we get together for lunch in Beverly Hills on Wednesday?

I walk into the Beverly Hills restaurant with my new skirt (from Kuala Lumpur) and ankle boots. He sits at the booth in his round glasses that magnify his beautifully blue eyes and we instantly click. We munch on bread sticks and tell each other our life stories. He is adorably sweet, separated, with two young boys. I need to remind myself that I am there for a business meeting. As lunch winds down he proposes a two-year publishing deal.

A few weeks later, we celebrate the signing of the contract. We get together for martinis on Doheny. The next week we meet for sushi and drive up the hill to stand in the trees behind the Greek Theater to hear Sting sing "Roxanne." We end up in an alcove on Melrose for our first whiskey-flavored kisses. It is truly romantic.

The next day I call my mom, an L.A. therapist and tell her about the new man in my life. She is quiet for a moment and then blurts out, "How does it feel to kiss a married man?"

I react angrily: "Mom! Why are you raining on my parade?" Then I realize — she is right. David is not officially divorced. What have I done? Have I messed up my publishing deal? I call him and say, "I really like you, but we need to be friends as you are not available." He sounds disappointed but says he is OK with that.

For the next three years I date lunatics, fall in and out of crushes and license new songs to TV shows. David and I have lunch every few months, and it feels like we are old friends every time we meet. One day, I call him and ask if he knows how I might play at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. He says that artists book those gigs far in advance but wishes me luck. I say, "Could you let me stay on your hotel couch until I get settled?"

He agrees. I hang up the phone, call a few places and book a showcase at the Lucky Lounge on a Saturday night at 7:45.

When I arrive at his suite, it's a mess. He says he's having an important meeting there in a few hours. He leaves for appointments and I call the maid and the concierge to bring grapes, flowers, water and chairs. When the VIPs arrive, the place is sparkling. He's impressed.

That night David sees me perform for the first time. The audience listens and hoots and hollers. David is in the front row, gazing up at me with tears falling from his eyes.

After the show, he carries my guitar around Austin, looking at me like I am Sheryl Crow. He is star-struck. He mentions that his divorce is final. We stop in the street and look at each other in a new way.

Two months later, in Maui, he drops down on his knee at sunset and slips a diamond ring onto my finger. Now we are married with our two girls, his two boys and will celebrate our 12-year wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day. I now create children's videos as well as grown-up music. I finally get to be a wife, a mom, an artist and Martha Stewart too.

Lessons? Love can be found in Los Angeles, ditch the wrong husband, pursue your passion and don't be afraid to call twice. Oh yeah, and listen to your mom.

Deborah Poppink Hirshland is a songwriter and music teacher living in L.A.

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 home@latimes.com. We pay $300 a column.

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