The Hopeful Romantic

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It’s official. I am a hopeless romantic. Or rather, hopeful romantic, because instead of leading me down a path of despair, my tendency to fall quickly madly deeply generally leaves me buoyant, afloat atop a sea of all things wonderful. I meet a guy, sparks fly, and pretty soon I’m rocketing out of Earth’s orbit into Feelings Land, a place where sleepless nights, chocolate fountains, and cloying voices abound. Suddenly, I am in tune with the individual spirits couched in every blade of grass, I can tell the sky is azure and not Brandeis blue, I can detect the faint smell of bougainvillea over the California exhaust. I’ve become Walt Whitman, and I have transcended into a Song of Myself Made Clearer by Him (not the Capital H Him of various world religions, but the regular – and very special – him capitalized for the sake of a borrowed title.) When you pair he with me, you get heme, which are components of hemoglobin, which as you’ll recall are part of blood, which has so much significant symbolism I needn’t go any further. You get the point. He + me = Bright New World.

Okay, dear reader, I think you know where I’m going with this: I’ve met a new him. And you’re not going to believe this, but somehow, this him is making the world even brighter than all the other hims before him. It’s like Chris Evans has delivered a payload to the sun and it’s exploding all this crazy light and energy into the solar system and everything is magnificently illuminated. The details have become so remarkably clear that I think I’ve stepped into a Wes Anderson film, but I know I haven’t because there’s no Tilda and no Jason and no Bill Murray. Yet. (Dreams come true, kids, ask the folks over at Make a Wish Foundation).

I open a book, read one paragraph – nay! three glorious lines – and I immediately want to text him with the insight his existence has somehow just gifted me with. Dots are being connected before my very eyes like some sort of spooky Einsteinian particles — of course I see the influences of Aristotle! How could anyone miss those allusions to Dante! Obviously Rilke was influenced by El Greco! It’s exciting and overwhelming and maddening but his intense intelligence has lit a fuse which I hope extends for light years because I don’t want it to ever explode unless that explosion is some sort of aha! genius moment in which I discover the secret of the universe. Then it would be okay.

And he is not just healing my injured intellectual self rendered crippled by too many glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and conversations about skinny people. No no, dear reader, he is also releasing the valves of my heart so that so much emotion is pumping through my veins that the mere sight of a puppy or mention of some forgotten war in Cajamarca brings me to my knees. I’ve jumped from Wes Anderson to Chen Kaige, where now every frame doesn’t just have meaning but Meaning, as in you-will-cry-at-the-sight-of-this-moon-landscape-so-help-me-Buddha (even though China is not religious, at least not in any Western sense). It’s almost too painful to breathe, because even the air is thick with feeling- sticky, sweet, consuming feeling. I mean, it gives us life!! (Don’t even get me started on water.)

And then, of course, he excites me. Like the French kind of excitement. Like the “I can’t write this because my mom reads my blog” kind of excitement. But, suffice it to say, it’s exciting. I’ve dreamt about him every night this week. Suffice it to say.

All of which basically means one thing: I am, of course, absolutely and utterly terrified. Here I go again, climbing higher and higher up a ladder surrounded by a thousand sharp spears and Inferno-like flames, bolstered by the exquisite notion that maybe, just possibly, by some incredible chance, I may have found the right person to share things with. It seems so simple, a rule from kindergarten, and yet, how profound. Sharing. It’s deep on so many levels, like a T.S. Eliot poem, but not pretentious. I know it shouldn’t take another person to bring out so many colors in a sunset and flavors in a curry and hidden notes in Mahler’s Symphony #2, but dammit, for some reason it just does. So screw it, I’ll keep climbing and the spears will get sharper and the flames hotter, but that’ll just be the price I pay for the magnification of the world through him. And who knows? Maybe this time the ladder won’t come crashing down or I won’t slip or a huge storm won’t tear me from it. I’m hopeful.


I have arrived…



After an hour and fifteen minute delay on the Tarmac, trapped in a seat so small I couldn’t cross my legs, the plane finally took off. Apparently there had been some “mechanical issues,” which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but gratefully they had been resolved. I turned on the in flight entertainment, practically cheered when I saw “Lego Movie” among the options, and reached for my earbuds, an ordeal that reinforced the necessity of yoga in my life. I thought of my friend James, the world’s happiest Production Assistant / posture nazi, and how proud he would be of my straight-backed, neutral-leg position. Everything is awesome!! Sigh.

As soon as dinner was served (a grueling decision between chicken or pasta, either of which I would inevitably feel I had made the wrong choice), I downed a little blue pill with a glass of Cabernet, my savior at 30,000 feet (see below: “Flying Lessons”). About 15 minutes later, right after Emmet and Wild Style had reached the Old West, I found myself feeling really warm and fuzzy. Pretty soon I was lassoing some horses of my own, only they were zebras with pink and blue stripes, and I wasn’t in the desert but rather on the planet Xanaxia, where everything is sparkly and beautiful and sleepy…

“Would you like some breakfast, miss?” I opened my eyes to find the flight attendant serving croissants and coffee. “Yes, please,” I smiled, thrilled by yet one more successful drug induced 8 hour plane sleep. I started back up where I had left off in “Lego Movie,” and finished it just as we began our descent. I could see England! Everything is awesome!! While I’d been to London as a baby with my parents and had enjoyed several layovers in Heathrow over the years, I’d never been to the city properly. I could feel the excitement simmering in my body (along with the coffee that was jolting me further and further from Xanaxia.)

Aside from the usual tedious customs line made better by free wifi (I loved England already!), navigating my way from the terminal to the Heathrow Connect was painless. The train took me right into the center, London Paddington, and when I exited I got that familiar yet foreign feeling I get every time I arrive in a new city. It’s a bit like waking up from a dream, or rather, waking up in a dream. Different air, different energy, different culture. But same language. That would make the next week decidedly easier to get around, in more ways than one (yes, that pun you are thinking is intentional.)

My first stop was my friend Mike’s work, the guy who I would be staying with the next week. On the way there, I practically cried as I passed centuries old buildings, regretting the fact that my entire adult life had been spent in Los Angeles. There were so many lives to lead, jobs to be had, ways to spend my 20s. I silently cursed my friend for having lived in both New York and London post LA, then rang up to his office. Any residual jealousy immediately disappeared upon seeing him, and I chose at that moment to be the person I wanted to be over the next few weeks: open, accessible, joyous.

We walked to his place, I dropped my bags, and within 40 minutes I was having a pint with one of my best friend’s sisters and her boyfriend. I live for moments like this. Practically strangers (we had met once before 4 years ago), and yet I felt so comfortable, so wonderfully at home with Izzy and James. They are the kind of couple that makes you want to be a better person. You can’t help but smile and laugh and be grateful in their presence, and I was all three. A few pints later, and I was ready to cancel my return flight to LA.

After leaving them (much to my chagrin) I met for dinner with Mike and his friend Ben. It was healthy, fairly inexpensive, and delicious – a rarity in London according to Mike. The company was excellent, and we continued the rapport at a hole in the wall. Literally. We knocked on a door, a server approved us through a sliding window, and we entered a speakeasy of sorts in the west end. My chocolate old fashioned did the trick, and pretty soon I was tearing up the dance floor to the Eagles. How funny to fly thousands of miles only to listen to a song about California. Small world indeed.

I got back to Mike’s flat at a reasonable hour, around 1am, and completed my usual evening routine. It’s amazing, I thought, I could be anywhere in the world, and I am still me. Same face wash, same toothbrush, same ritual. But a world away. A new perspective. That’s the beauty of travel. We recognize ourselves in another light, and we are transformed by it. I said a small blessing, prayed for sleep, and retired to the couch. What a trip this would be.