It’s 1:30 am and we are standing outside 7-Eleven, soaking and shaking from a sudden downpour in Los Angeles. I am laughing so hard from some bizarre joke you’ve made, clutching the sides of my ribcage as if I’m afraid my insides will fall out if I do not cling tightly. I am afraid all this joy and light, and ridiculous giggling will spill out on the concrete, and I will not be able to put it back inside. I think this is why I hold myself in bed, even with your arm slung across my chest. There is nothing quite as terrifying as realizing how much one has to lose.
This is what I think about, standing outside with you. The flickering neon lights from the poorly constructed signage. The rushing water cleansing this dirty corner in Hollywood. The look you give when I laugh at something you said. The way you tilt down your head, cock it to one side. The smile you crack. The dimples. The crushing heaviness of how badly I never want these moments to end.
You grab my hand, and pull me inside the store. We buy cheap wine and bag of M&Ms. The cashier finds us annoying, I can tell. It’s that same kind of irritation I would feel walking through my college campus and seeing couples visibly in love and making out against trees, or sprawled out in the quad. Everywhere. Public displays of affection are some sort of plague when you are lonely and exploring a one-sided relationship with Netflix. You can’t escape it, and on some level, I hated that I even hated it. I shouldn’t have felt left out. I wasn’t president of deciding where and when people could play some tonsil hockey. Living in a romantic dictatorship like that would fucking blow.
I say thank you as the cashier hands us our candy and alcohol in a nondescript brown paper bag. You kiss the top of my head and I focus on staying upright. I know the wine will mostly be for you. Like some high school prom, I can hear Beyonce singing Drunk in Love every time I look at you. I see that smile. Those dimples. Thin lips that somehow fit with my full ones. We run outside, back into the rain and I let you lead.
“I’m only letting you lead because I don’t know where we’re going, I hope you know that,” I shout. He nods, weaving me through crowds of tourists with DSLR cameras around their necks and women tripping in heels that were not made for all these blocks.
You know those movies where characters are running and everything becomes blurred? The background all blends and soon, it’s this atmospheric white noise. Our characters, running, are all we can see, and there’s this beauty and unbelievability to it. Just add the soundtrack to Her, some slow motion camera circles, and you have an indie filmmakers wet dream. Most of the time, that stuff seems like bullshit to me. But there, with him, in the busy streets of a city I never expected to love, I cannot see anything but his hand holding mine. I trust him. I never used to trust hands that touched me.
We stop at a crosswalk, waiting for the light to change. We are both still drenched, but as he hugs me, the cold isn’t so bad. None of it is ever too bad when he hugs me. He flicks a raindrop off my cheek and cups my face with both hands. “You’re a goddamn nightmare sometimes, you know that?” I laugh so hard, hand pinching my side. He kisses the top of my head again, and clear his throat, continuing. “A nightmare-ish dream, kid. I’m scared of waking up,” he presses his nose into the top of my head, inhaling deeply. We stand there, frozen clocks, both so scared of waking up. Scared of there not being enough time. Scared of how much this means and how much we have to lose. The light turns and we keep walking.
I will continue walking with you, letting you lead sometimes. I will continue laughing with you. I will continue standing in the rain, not to be romantic, but because we’re dumb asses who locked ourselves out of your apartment. I will continue loving you, telling you, “I like you so much.” I will continue calling you out when you get too arrogant, and admit when I’m wrong about what year Ghostbusters came out. I will continue getting creeped out when anybody says the phrase “making love,” but still find you attractive when those words escape your mouth. I will continue hugging you on dirty street corners in Hollywood. I will continue. And I hope, in my most optimistic school girl thinking, that you continue with me.