Writing is a fickle thing. Courage and optimism. The courage to be honest and optimism that you’re good enough.
I write for a magazine that sends me to places that make me incredibly uncomfortable. I speak with the owners of restaurants and bars I could never afford. I speak with experts in the beauty field: plastic surgeons, cosmetic dentists, spray tan salons. I speak with people who are living very luxurious lifestyles.
Luxury in the sense of wealth.
Sitting in my rented room in Long Beach with carpet stains and rodents scurrying within the ceiling at night, wealth feels far away. And so when I speak with these people, our conversations feel riddled with distance.
The other day they sent me to the Montage Laguna Beach. I rattled into the valet circle with my 10 year old car. The paint on the hood is chipping. It whines as I turn and roll down my window streaked with dirt. We are in a drought. They took my car away as I was left looking in on the lobby. People in matching uniforms surrounded me. As I watched a couple of the uniforms laugh freely at an inside joke, they reminded me that they were, in fact, people. As they quickly turned back to their computers, I realized they were not supposed to be people. They were uniforms.
I had a conversation with a woman who was not a uniform. Instead she wore a black blazer and pencil skirt. The skirt lengthened her lean body and her heels gave shape to her legs. They were a fancy brand I did not know. Cheetah print and red. The lack of her uniform and the brand of her shoes gave her a higher status than those in the lobby. As we spoke, the distance between us seemed only to get farther. I became very aware of the acne on my face and my shoes from Ross. As I left, I felt an urgency. With that urgency I ducked into my squeaky car, leaving the high school boy with pretty eyes working for Montage valet service tipless and frustrated.
That night I had a second date with a man. We ate at a restaurant that was funky and hip with strands of lights over the patio. I described my experience at the Montage and he laughed heartily and told me about the people he loves and his car that has only three functioning doors. I had forgotten about my acne and shoes from Ross that were still on my feet. After dinner and drinks we watched a live jazz set in a coffee shop across the street. We did not sit close enough to touch.
And so as we left the coffee shop and headed for the beach, and his hand touched the small of my back, the fine blonde hair on my arms stood tall. We took our shoes off and allowed the sand to exfoliate our feet. We walked straight into the water. I tread deeper than him, as I held my skirt up high. He followed, coming to terms with his wet jeans. Our banter broke as he kissed me. It was a kiss he meant. And as I kissed back, I meant it too. There was a lightness in our walk after this. Distance felt nonexistent. Miles turned into moments.
The mockingbird that sings in the early hours of the morning sang as we approached my house. These are the hours people forget, when life feels more like dreams. And so we slept and dreamt and made plans for a next date. I wrote my piece for the Montage, ending it with exaggerated statements about how I would surely return. Exaggeration is unnecessary in writing about this second date. Sometimes writing is easy.