My friend Cloe and I started a podcast for our school newspaper. We invited him on an episode to discuss a community service project he started with a friend. He slipped into my DMs two days later with a “hey”. I didn’t answer at first: what are you saying just for “hey”? Do you say “hey” back?
He cut straight to “ask out”, however. No “speech scene”.
Our first month together sounded like the second verse of Taylor Swift’s “Fifteen” on loop:
And then you’re on your very first date
And he has a car
And you want to fly
It was in October. Most places were still closed. Still, I think we’ve found all the cracks in the pandemic code. He took me to save money and carve pumpkins and places to watch sunsets. On our way back from Malibu, we went one day to the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, which was unsurprisingly crowded and half-masked. A favorite pastime was grabbing 21 Choices frozen yogurt.
I asked on our second date, “Can I stain you with lipstick?” “ He thought I was going to search for the lips, but I had never kissed a boy there before, so I put my hands over his eyes, lowered my mask, and pressed my mouth to his cheek. I didn’t do a very good job. It looked like a bloody murder.
As we went to places around Los Angeles and Southern California, I had never been – and even places I had – everything seemed so different. I had never felt so connected with this city made up of so many different towns, even walking down palm-lined Oak Street in South Pasadena, I suddenly felt so LA – dreamy. Is Southern California from the passenger seat of the Dream Boy’s car becoming what it’s meant to be?
In fact, he was not a dreamer. He kept things very real. This will all be over when he leaves for college in August. I thought we would have at least summer.
In April, we were preparing for our next date when I asked him if he had any ideas, whatever he wanted to do.
“I don’t know,” he said.
What kind of response was that? What is not to do in the city of dreams?
I wanted to drive Angeles Crest Highway, see DTLA, Venice Beach, Laurel Canyon, Sunset Boulevard, Grand Central Market, the Hollywood Sign, Palos Verdes. I wanted to go to all the essential places in Los Angeles with him before he left for college.
I think that’s when I knew it was over. It officially ended when he picked me up that Saturday. I had wrapped myself in his sweater and was already crying Taylor Swift (“Last Kiss”) before he arrived.
There was a bag of Lindor chocolates for me in the passenger seat. He asked me how my day had been. I lied and told him it was okay. Then he stopped.
“Can we talk?”
It was planned, but I was still at a loss for words. For a second, I frantically searched for a way out of his car.
After a while, all I could say was “Now?” “
“I don’t have time for a girlfriend.”
I asked her if spending less time together would make a difference. He said no. And that was it. Over the next hour, we made conversation. At one point I asked him what he was thinking, and he said something about the constellations, and I teasingly condemned him for not thinking of me on that lovely evening together yesterday. evening.
Soon it was after 11 p.m. and he had work to do the next day. Besides, I couldn’t ask this person who suddenly became a stranger to hold me any longer.
I asked, “Can I stain you with lipstick?” “
I wanted it to be a full moment before he dropped me off one last time. I wasn’t wearing lipstick. I just wanted him to remember. But he did not do it.
At the curb, I thanked him for our time together, gave him a hug, and like a last hurray, rolled him down his window for one last kiss before heading home.
I sobbed in the shower. I watched half of “La La Land”. I listened to more from Taylor Swift. There was a mountain of handkerchiefs falling out of the trash. Cloe came in early the next morning. I cried in his arms for two hours. I felt like nothing would ever go right.
Cloe promised me that everything would be fine. Sea having fun all over LA Exploring the city would make up for the loss of a first boyfriend.
One day, I realized that I hadn’t cried about his absence for over a week. Cloé was right. He has since left LA to go to college where he will meet new people. I want to leave LA too when I go to college.
But I want to explore it further.
Cloe and I can take the train.
The author is a senior at South Pasadena High School. She plans to study sustainability at university and recently founded the youth-led environmental justice education campaign, @antiracistplanet. She’s on Instagram @amberonradio.