I’m in a furniture store again. If I can vacillate for half an hour over socks, you should see me confronted with couches, tables and plates. It’s a mesmerizing display of inner struggle.
So I’m halfway between deciding on a set of glassware when I see The Stranger.
Tall, dark, handsome, rug shopping. I sidle up next to him and I’m about to start in with the Crocodile Dundee pick up routine, when I have a moment of pause.
Something tells me that this guy has a message for me. I get these weird premonitions sometimes that ring like a silent gong in my body. And as hot as he may be, I decide that the gong wins.
So our chatter starts innocently enough; it turns out that we’re both writers and he’s also got a movie about to go.
Stranger: So, how’s LA going?
Me: Oh, awesome.
I then trot out my resume of several projects in various stages of development, the actors attached, the agencies it’s in. It’s like a formulaic response that you develop in Tinsel Town.
He nods and smiles for my entire roll call, patiently waiting for me to finish. Then calmly, he looks me straight in the eye.
Stranger: So, how’s it really going?
With that one question, The Stranger rips my soul in two. I feel like a complete hoax. And with not a moment’s thought of self-censorship, I vomit up my darkest inner secret.
Me: I really like LA. But I feel that the whole time I live here, I will never have a relationship with a man that’s of any consequence. In fact, I know that’s how it will be. And it terrifies me.
There it was, seeping into the unbought rug in front of us, the horrible admission that I have given up hope. LA has officially beaten me. The city has disproved light.
Then I burst into tears. This is quite possibly the worst I have ever felt the whole time that I’ve lived in LA. One question, a pretty simple one at that, and I unravelled.
The Stranger smiles understandingly, nods his head and puts a hand on my shoulder.
Stranger: I understand. I was right where you were three years ago.
Me: Then you need to tell me how this ends. Because I have no idea what to do anymore.
Stranger: I stopped dating. I took all my profiles down. I refused offers of dates from people. And instead, I put all that energy into my writing.
Me: For how long?
Again, he looked me right in the eye.
Stranger: Until the loneliness goes away.
Boom! There is a shift in the universe. Stars realign, the earth rights itself on its axis, and the sun comes out again.
Me: That’s the best advice anyone’s ever given me.
Stranger: You’re welcome.
We did exchange numbers but I’ve never seen him again. And it doesn’t matter.
I went home, took down my profiles, deleted every guy living in my phone rent-free, erased all their emails. I even shut down my pimpmail account. And then I walked to the beach.
The sun was setting over the West Coast and I left my clothes in a heap as I threw myself into the water. And when I re-emerged, I felt like I’d been scrubbed clean. Like the ocean had swallowed all my angst and sorrow, easily absorbing it into its blue expanse where it could sink, forgiven and forgotten, to the bottom.
I sat on the sand, watched the sunset and smiled, because I was happy just to be. And while love has been a stranger, this kind of contentedness is something else I haven’t felt in an age.
It’s been three months since that day and I have to say, so far, so good. The enormous space it cleared in my head has been filled with characters and screenplays; I’m more prolific and focused than ever.
Work is starting to come more regularly, some of it might even be paid!
And the best thing is that I’m really happy. I’m a better friend, I do more of the things that interest me in LA, my world has expanded here with new people in the industry, true artists, the kind of folks I’ve been wanting to meet since I arrived.
I don’t plan on being a monk forever, but right now, it’s just what the doctor ordered.
Funny, after all the years of hunting for someone else, I ended up dating myself.