I Think I Met the Love of My Life

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Years passed. I dated a string of forgettable women. Some months were a veritable feast of possibilities; others a cruel drought. I referred to the Roku as “my girlfriend, RoRo.” I enjoy being alone and I’m good at being alone. Then I met Lauren.

Last weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the night we met. It was perfect and unexpected. The following 12 months have been a splendid fog. We traveled to Mexico, where she asked me to be her girlfriend. I said yes as we swung in a woven hammock rocked by the warm, salty Baja breeze. We spent a decadent weekend at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. There we bronzed poolside and dined on the rooftop of Mandalay Bay.

Lauren and I spent many evenings in a cabana overlooking the Hollywood Hills, sipping red wine and sharing the gourmet ice cream sandwiches that melted between our lips. We traveled to Joshua Tree, that sprawling desert Shangri-La. Joshua Tree is filled with towering cacti and boulders so red and magnificent you can stand on one and see for miles.  At night, when the blistering heat faded to bone-chilling cold, Lauren and I burrowed together for warmth and fell asleep smiling.

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I met her friends, and she met mine. She slid seamlessly into my life, so swiftly that at times, I wondered if maybe my friends like her more than me. I don’t mind. Receiving validation from others is so trite, so unpalatable, and yet there is no sweeter, simpler pleasure than knowing the object of your affection believes you the most wonderful person alive.

I’ve never skydived, nor do I want to.  I consider the human fear of jumping out of planes an entirely rational survival mechanism. But if I ever was shoved out a metal bird cruising miles above land, it could only be a quarter as exhilarating as believing that the most beautiful, brilliant woman you have ever met wants you for a partner.

Sundays are our jam and also the jam on the toast that is my work week. Every Sunday I wake up to Lauren, often with tea and a book in hand. In the mornings, I must confess, I am not at peak charm. I open one eye at a time—not unlike a crocodile—and Lauren smiles down at me and says “Happy Chloe Day!” and I mutter “Happy Lauren Day,” and try to go back to sleep.

After a few cups of coffee and some gentle coaxing, Lauren holds my hand, and we walk down Sunset Boulevard. We pop into The Park for a light, healthy brunch of fried chicken and maple pancakes or Alfred Coffee for white mochas. I flip through The New Yorker, and she pours over the poetry in some obscure lit journal. She reads me funny passages, and I ask her to please stop talking, I am trying to read.

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She’s got me on this walking kick, which you can do in Silverlake and Echo Park—the respective Williamsburg and Bushwick of Los Angeles. We covet vintage typewriters with mother of pearl keys and settle for Nag Champa at the House of Intuition or feminist T-Shirts at Otherwild.

If you’ve never been watched by somebody who is smitten with you, I highly recommend the experience. It is as delicious as it is perplexing. Every murmur of annoyance or slip on the pavement or rapturous bite is witnessed with delight and praise. “How cute you are,” Lauren croons when I stomp into the room in sweats with snarly hair and no makeup. Love is like being a movie star to one person. And if that person is the object of your affection than ohh, what a lovely time you’re in for.

I always suspected that, once I did find a girlfriend, I would have trouble settling. There are so many options, infinite possibilities, how can a connoisseur in unfounded discontent be really content. Yet, here I am, a year into a monogamous relationship, and I feel no desire for anyone but Lauren. My worst fear is not that I will lose interest, but that she will tire of me. I have nightmares about it. My fears have yet to be founded, but she talks me through them anyway. I know all her fears, and she knows all of mine, and I thought that it would make me weak, but it doesn’t.

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One of Lauren’s many gifts is gift giving. She’s one of those natural gift givers who finds whimsical tokens for me at every turn, forever fortune cookie of blue and white China in which sweet nothings are written in tiny calligraphy. A delicate bronze trinket tray carved to look like a dove’s wing. Macarons from France and coffee from San Francisco. It is impossible to keep up, although Lord knows I try.

For our one year anniversary, she showered me with an array of glorious gifts. Glittering druzy studs set in gold.  A fitted bronze cuff inscribed with “FUCK I LOVE YOU.” A delicious act of graffiti on the steps leading down from Sunset Junction.

I gave her an array of Calvin Klein boy briefs because she always said: “In my ideal world, I would only wear Calvin Klein underwear, and have a neat stack of crisp, clean pairs in my drawer at all times.” I got her a starter kit: Five pairs in various solid, neutral colors—she does not share my bayou baroque aesthetic—and presented them to her with great fanfare. They are the wrong size. They are my size. I was going to exchange them, but then I tried on a pair and realized Calvin Klein briefs are buttery soft butt pillows with a sexy band that makes everyone’s hip bones look a little better. Don’t worry; I ordered more for Lauren. So what if I must subside on lettuce this month to make ends meet? I will look all the better in my Calvins with a leaner silhouette.  

Our anniversary gift to ourselves was a weekend retreat to Cambria, California; a Stars Hollow-esque town drenched with towering oaks and cozy shops. I took to humming the Twin Peaks theme song and made several questionable purchases, including a useless pyrite tower, abalone pendant, extravagant dinner, and large pie. Actually, take back that bit about the pie. Pies are always a solid investment.

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Cambria runs along the craggy precipices of the Pacific coast, dramatic drops into jutting rocks smashed for eons by the churning Pacific Ocean. We walked along a dirt path surrounded by lush, sun-blotting trees that obscured all traces of civilization. The route snaked into an abundant green field, painted in a purple mist and dotted with wildflowers. As the sun set, we edged closer to a pack of napping seals who met our eyes and—I swear—wagged their tails to say “Hello young lovers.” When my sedentary body was overwhelmed with the flat, three-mile stroll, Lauren and I would stop at driftwood benches to cuddle and contemplate nature or whatnot.

At night, we stayed in “The Hobbit House,” a two-room wooden cabin lit by stained glass windows and warmed by a merrily burning fire. Lauren casually gave me her Grandmother’s vintage Louis Vuitton cross-body purse, because “it would look better on you.” The girl is mad. The Hobbit House has a large garden teeming with herbs and flowers. Jasmine and honeysuckle perfumed the air, and our host showed us plants ideal for grazing humans. We spent a long, lazy day reading in the garden—her N+1, me The Portable Dorothy Parker—before bidding farewell to the Hobbit House and traipsing to Hearst Castle.

Hearst Castle inspires me to be reborn as an early 20th-century magazine magnate. This may prove difficult. Marble statues of the three muses, carved Roman sarcophagi, 15th-century Spanish ceilings, Flemish tapestries, and ornately tiled infinity pools in the neoclassical style of marble-rich opulence. Hearst Castle is stupendous and a bit sad. William Randolph Hearst lost a lot of money and never finished Hearst Castle. He is scathingly immortalized in Citizen Kane. Hearst had everything, but he couldn’t stop wanting more. He didn’t know it was good until it went bad. That’s a very human error I would like not to make.

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I would still like a magnificent pool in a castle surrounded by Roman statues. I ache to be cool and wealthy and exquisite, like a marble statue or those towering billboards on Sunset Boulevard. We all do, if we’re being honest with ourselves. But when I imagine a future with Lauren, it doesn’t seem all that important.

I am still waiting to fuck it up. But maybe I won’t. Maybe we’ll be the exception to all those bored couples, divorces, and infidelities. I think lasting love is a lot like being a writer: you know the odds are against you, but you try anyway. Love is hard to find and easily lost. I must take great care.

   

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