L.A. is nothing if not expansive. Our hearts are big, but the distance from the 626 to LAX on a holiday weekend, or the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach during rush hour? Way bigger.
Things change here all the time too, or at least they seem to. You only make it back to certain places once in a blue moon since you usually have to psych yourself up for long round-trip drive to get out of your pocket of the city. So when you do finally make it back to that amazing underground restaurant or art show all those months later, maybe you’re the different one.
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We don’t have routines or a city-wide hive mind. So in L.A., you rarely get a redo.
See, New York City is dense. Every day spent riding the subway and grabbing a drink at your neighborhood bar is ripe with opportunity for connection — for someone catching your eye and, critically, getting the chance to act on it tomorrow. Or the next day. Or a month from now. We don’t have quite the same luxury in the land of, well, never doing the same thing or seeing the same people twice.
When you miss a connection in L.A., it truly is missed. Or at least it feels that way.
Because the romance isn’t really dead, is it? After traffic has died down and you’ve cruised home to Ryan Seacrest on KIIS-FM or Sarah Koenig on “Serial,” you can lie in 80-degree heat in the dark and think about what could’ve been. You can tweet about it, or maybe post about it on Craigslist or missedyoula.com. You’ll always think about it, see their face in a crowd or their car on the 101. They’ll always have a piece of your heart.
No one knows that better than the heartbroken of L.A. In bars and airport terminals and hotels across the city, we make connections that are lost to time and distance itself. Sometimes it’s fleeting eye contact, or a brief conversation (sorely lacking an exchange of phone numbers), or even a romance you both know has to end shortly.
We asked you, L.A., for your missed connections. The moment — and person — you can’t stop thinking about. Here’s a running tab of what could have been.
The date? July 11.
The place? Big Dean’s in Santa Monica, Euro 2020 finale. Me at a table. Him on a barstool.
And then, there’s the feeling — that itch in the back of your mind that only occurs when you know that someone is looking at you. An itch I felt as I took the first sip of my second beer. I turned around to fill in the final blank — the person.
Oh, hi stranger. You’re cute. You’re watching the game too.
But in an Italian football club tee … I’m here with my friend rooting for England.
Is it an issue? Or can we be like Romeo and Juliet? That had a decently happy ending, right? I don’t know if it’s the beer or this crush, but right now I can’t remember.
All I know, stranger, is that you are spending more time watching me than you are watching fútbol. Although the same could be said for me right now. That must mean something, right? Should I write down my number on a napkin and give it to you, stranger? Should I ask my friend to do it for me? Probably not, I’ll just wait till the end of the game. For now, I will survive on stolen glances.
On that note — can everyone please sit down and stop blocking my view? Thank you!
Phew. Glad to see you’re still looking (and looking good in that Italian jersey).
But now, it’s penalty time and I can’t help but wonder if I’ll be penalized for rooting for England. Maybe now is the time to shoot my shot. Or it would’ve been, had England not just shot theirs and lost.
But that’s OK, he will comfort me now, right? Right?
Oh he’s leaving. Wrong. And so quickly too. Wait, I had other plans for us, stranger!
What about a timid hello? A flirtatious introduction? What about you leaving with that napkin that holds my number? (I still need time to make it!)
It’s now or never, as you walk by, stranger. Here...we...g—
He waved. He waved and he left.
It means you felt it too, right, stranger? But you left.
What? Really? After all these…hours?
Well, I’m still thinking about you. So if you’re reading this and you still think about that smiley girl in overalls in a shade of sand, I have a napkin ready for you. It has my number.
Jack and I matched on Hinge my last night in L.A. I planned on going back the next month, so we planned for a date then, right before he was relocating for work. But in a crazy turn of events, I ended up spontaneously flying back to L.A. just three days after I left. We now had a week to make the most of what we knew was a fleeting moment.
After a Monday night date at the pier, we both went home alone (regrettably, we’d later find out). With busy schedules, we weren’t sure we’d see each other before my flight at the end of the week. That Thursday night, my very last night, we spent our time between my hotel bar, pool and room into the early hours of the morning — even though I had to leave for my flight at 9 a.m.
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I think the biggest “missed” moment here, that makes it both special and difficult, is the fleetingness of it all — just knowing going into it what finite time we had and that we may never see each other again. The “what ifs” and “what could have beens.” We still wanted to pursue the connection and document the night, though — which included throwing our inhibitions out the door, staying at the pool hours past its closing, and posting a TikTok that now has more than 5 million views.
It was the winter and it was supposed to be minus 50 that week in Chicago, where I live. A bunch of friends and I were all freelancers at the time, and we’re like, “God that sounds miserable. L.A. is literally going to be 100 degrees warmer,” and we started joking, like, “Oh wouldn’t it be nice to fly to L.A.” It was affordable at the time and there was just a hole in everyone’s schedule and all being freelancers we’re like, “Yeah, let’s just go work from L.A. for a week.” So we decided to go do that with a group of or eight or nine people.
One night we ended up going to — I think it was Tokyo Beat, was the karaoke bar we went to. There was this group of women across the room and they had their own group requesting songs, we had our group requesting songs, it was pretty packed. There was someone who I was like, “Oh, this person’s cute.” Punk pop and emo music is really fun for karaoke. Everyone usually joins in and sings along. And I feel like we were picking similar songs in that regard.
There’s those times where you make eye contact with someone across a room, but I never want to invade someone’s friend group or overstep. I don’t know, people are weird at bars these days and I don’t want to contribute to that.
So, after enough of our groups going back and forth, at some point we go up to sing a song together. I forget which song it was. (A Feb. 2, 2019. tweet from David reveals that it was, in fact, “Spiderwebs” by No Doubt.)
One of us requested a song and the other was like, “Oh, do you wanna...?” Like, holding the other [mic] out, basically, to sing. So we just sang the song together and it was really fun.
It was toward the end of the night. At that point my friends were kind of tired and everyone was looking to go. It was also the last night we were gonna be there. There’s the romantic idea of “oh, I meet someone on a trip spontaneously,” but I didn’t want to make it out to be more than what it was. It was just a nice point with a stranger.
It had an ounce of nostalgic magic to it, but it was more of a nice memory with a stranger than something that I sit bitterly regretting. It was just a nice human moment, a nice connection. It’s nice to know that that can still happen rather than feeling like I am forever bound to four dating apps.
Have a missed connection in L.A.? Let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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