We fell into magic last year, and into love. It was my birthday in a few days, and I could not have been more excited to gather friends and family for a party, so I could tell the world about finding the one in which the soul delights.
And then I would play the kazoo, or try, and leave 'em laughing.
We were goofballs, and suckers for spinning Santas and Snoopys on the shelves at CVS. I was so proud of putting together a picnic dinner for us, a respite from the city in the hills above Ventura Boulevard. I got the ice cream, but not the cooler, and she laughed at chocolate soup for dessert.
In Los Olivos, where we went wine tasting, we posed for photos in a giant chair that nearly swallowed us. In the middle of the night, I sneaked in the door without waking the other couples sleeping inside the house or the chickens sleeping outside.
Life is full of wonderful surprises, as she so aptly put it.
Out of a bedrock of friendship, sparks caught fire. It was as if all those cloying proverbs had come to life, and all those cheesy greeting cards too. The best things in life, it turns out, really are worth waiting for.
She presented me a stuffed Tigger, because I couldn't stop bouncing when we held one another. Must have been the pitter-patter in my heart every time I saw her.
We stole kisses on orange couches in Woodland Hills and leaned against each other by the pool in Palm Springs, in Santa Barbara for Jackson Browne and at McCabe's for Blue Rodeo. We stole kisses at Starbucks when she adorably stopped by while I was writing, and in between bites of Mrs. Knott's fried chicken and sips in the stands at Dodger Stadium. She impressed me by staying for extra innings – and extra innings meant extra kisses.
On New Year's Eve, I pulled a tennis ball out of my pocket and held it high above my head, then dropped the ball – and we kissed.
She introduced me to the finest in sushi, wine, fashion and trending television. I introduced her to Vin Scully. Hey, we have good taste.
This was like dating Mary Tyler Moore, only better. She could turn the world on with her smile, and she could take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile, but she didn't just toss hats into the air. She actually designed hats.
She was wicked smart and pure of heart. She was uniquely stylish and stunningly beautiful inside and out. Her amazing children reflected her creativity, kindness and compassion. She had an uncommon ability to put others at ease. She amused me, challenged me and inspired me.
I was astonished that anyone would have ever tried to put limits on her, or tell her there were things she could not understand, or leave her vases empty. I could not be prouder of anyone.
Our hearts were scarred, but we took a chance on happiness. She let me in, to share in her son's school play, the back-to-school night, the graduation – and to Hanukkah at her home, a yummy, warm and loving evening. After all these years as a wandering Jew, I had found my safe and happy place.
I am blessed to cover baseball for a living, to set up my laptop at a ballpark and call it my office. (Hey, if you like my writing here, try me in the sports section.) But even the best job does not fill the heart. It is not a soul. It is not a partner with which you are privileged to share your life, to walk hand-in-hand through good times and bad, to kiss good night and kiss good morning.
We told each other how lucky we were to find one another later in life, when we realize more than ever the subjects that really matter beyond chemistry, the kind of people we outgrow and the kind we want to grow old with.
As we walked through wine country, we talked about walking together, wherever life would take us.
Now she has walked away, for a season or for good. Who knows? We always talked, and then suddenly we stopped talking.
Yes, the best things in life truly are worth waiting for, but there's more to that proverb. The complete saying: The best things in life are worth waiting for, fighting for, believing in and just never letting go of.
We loved movies. She had superior taste there too. The last time I picked the movie, we saw an alleged romantic political thriller that was two genres too many to be good.
But the movie that most reminded me of us is the one where the lovers fall in and out of each other's lives over the years, because it's never too late to stand up and say this: When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.
It's within us. It's in the words of the woman who sat next to us on the flight from San Francisco, admiring how tender we were in our love. It's in the spirit of the elderly couple out for date night at the wine bar, where we adored how sweet they were together, and they adored how sweet we were together.
That was the last time we saw each other.
So, this is how I tell the world about the wonder of this woman, not at a gathering but in the newspaper.
This is the bouquet of words I present her, for today is her birthday.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles. We pay $300 a column. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.
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