Before Sunrise

Porch swing view

The morning of Stephen’s arrival, I’m a nervous wreck. I mean, to a certain degree, I’m not nervous at all. We’ve been talking on the phone every single night for a few weeks or so. And things just seem to be getting better and better between us. We’ve been opening up more to each other, delving deeper into our pasts and our struggles and our vices and our hopes and our dreams. We can’t help but talk about the future, as in, what will we do next after this LA trip? But, as a disclaimer, any time each of us says anything about anything past this trip, we always add, ‘I mean, if this goes well.’ We’re both joking, but at the same time, texting and talking on the phone is definitely not the same as being with someone in person. Sure, we had a great time in Mexico, but that was vacation. And we were both single, and we happened to get along. What if it was nothing more than that?

One night while staying at ARs, Stephen and I are texting with each other, and he mentions that, if his visit DOES go well, his family just so happens to be vacationing in Palm Springs a few weeks following his trip. I tell AR this, as I immediately text him back: ‘I’ll be there.’ Anna Rose is more or less mortified that I’ve texted him this. She tells me to slow down, but I tell her no, I don’t need to. And I don’t need to play games with him (thank fucking God. Finally!). And she resigns herself, supportively agreeing with me that if I feel this way, everything will be OK.

So now the day is finally here. I’m still in Echo Park. I initially told him he could stay with me for the three nights, but I got too nervous. What if it didn’t go well? So he graciously agreed and booked a hotel in Santa Monica, instead.

My heart is pounding out of my chest as I drive to the airport. The anticipation is killing me! He texts me where he is, and I slowly drive up, looking for him. I spot him, and swerve to the right to pull over past him. Put the car in park, and jump out of my car.

He quickly walks over, suitcase in tow, with a big smile on his face. I’m beaming as well, but also shaking. He’s wearing a solid T-shirt and shorts, with white sneakers. I’m immediately more attracted to him than I remember. He seems… taller. And so fit. And so crisp and clean-cut in his clothes. I laugh in nervousness as I say hi and wrap my arms around his neck. He squeezes me tight around my waist. This feels SO good.

So good, that when he starts to release his grip, I don’t let him go, and we hold each other a little longer. (He will later tell me how amazing this made him feel, so I’m even more glad that I did it). Stephen jumps in the passenger seat, and we head down to Long Beach (I got the apartment. First apartment I found and fell in love with, and I got it, so I have to drop off the deposit check!). I also have an interview at a restaurant for a serving job.

At first, when I found out about the timing of going down to Long Beach, right upon Stephen’s arrival, I thought it was terrible. But Stephen insisted that he would be more than happy to drive down to Long Beach with me. It would be fun! My apartment isn’t ready to move in, but it’s open, so we head over so he can see it. I couldn’t be more excited for him to see it and he truly couldn’t be more excited for me. He absolutely loves it, and his enthusiasm radiates throughout the room.

Mom asked me to get the measurements, because she, of course, being my wonderful mother, just has to send me things to make this my home (she really is the best), so, because I didn’t bring a measuring tape, Stephen and I both walk one foot in front of the other, measuring the area of the floor to give Mom our different measurements. As I watch him doing this, I am flushed with a sense of attraction to him. I wasn’t expecting this. Not at all. And it’s amazing.

Do you want to see the roof? He answers with a resounding yes, and we walk up the steps, to the amazing view, and take a seat on the little porch swing, facing the ocean. We sit next to each other, in silence, looking out over the ocean. It’s breathtaking. The sun is shining and the temperature is just right, every now and then with a refreshing breeze. There’s been a bit of a heat wave the past week. When I stepped out of the apartment this morning, it felt like the first day of Fall. Absolutely perfect.

We hold hands over my knee. Butterflies in my stomach. He sits forward, and turns to face me, grabbing my face gently in his hands. And we kiss, finally. As soon as we do, all my nerves melt away, and everything is right. It just feels so good.

And that’s when I know for sure. This trip is going to be amazing.

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