When I turned 45, I decided it was time to try online dating again. My hair finally grew back after chemotherapy caused it to fall out a year earlier, and I was told I was cured of the cancer that had tried to kill me. During the long, difficult struggle leading up to that point, I had an epiphany.
If I want to find that special someone to spend the second half of my life with – the life I seem to have – I have to do something about that. None of my previous relationships have been successful, but I haven’t given up on finding “one of the right relationships.” If I was going to meet this right person, it wouldn’t have happened because he showed up on my doorstep – not with the controlled entrance to my Mar Vista apartment complex.
I created a new online dating profile and started coffee dates with guys I thought were my match. I didn’t click with any of them. After six months, my resolve began to waver. Maybe I can just be as happy as a bachelorette party with my cat, friends, and apartment. Then someone who didn’t show up for my match contacted me. His profile name is Romeosolo. He looks attractive – at least in his photos. His profile is charming and he exhibits a sense of humour.
So what eligibility criteria does he not meet? Then I saw it. He’s out of my acceptable mileage range. He lives in the San Fernando Valley. I live in the Westside. This can never be solved, I think. But what about another coffee date?
I met Romeosolo at the Cow’s End cafe in Venice. His real name is Robert. He looks just like his pictures. He hugged me. It should have been awkward, but somehow it was. He told me, “You look so much better.” That should have made me overly excited, but he was too honest about it. I asked him if he liked cats, and he told me the story of how he rescued three feral cats he found living under the deck of his ship.
After coffee, we strolled around the canals of Venice, and he didn’t mock me for talking to the ducks – he did, in fact. As I drove home, I realized that I had enjoyed a coffee date.
The next day, I started trying to think about everything that could happen to this cute, honest, fun, and cat-loving guy. Well, he lives in the Valley – it’s a spoiler right there. Anyway, I decided to give Robert a chance.
On our first real date, I agreed to venture across Mulholland Chia for dinner at a French bistro on Ventura Avenue. During dinner, we talked about our lives, our passions, and our families. When the evening ended with a gentle kiss, I knew I loved him.
In the days and weeks that followed, we merged into a love that was smooth and easy. I know I found the right one. But, why, why did he have to live in the Valley? I love Westside. I worked on the Westside. All my friends are on the Westside. The beach was there. My cute little apartment – which I actually own! – were there. For me, the Valley is a land of trailer parks, billboards, and bad food. And it’s very hot, sometimes hot and windy at the same time. I could never live in the Valley. Or so I think.
For the next year, we met twice a week, switching between Mar Vista and Lake Balboa. Then the following summer, I moved in temporarily with Robert while my building was being built for termites. We discovered that we really enjoy being together all the time. The arrangement on opposite sides of our Sepulveda Pass will no longer work. A decision has to be made, and I have to make it. He is the owner of a three-bedroom house with a front yard, a backyard and a swimming pool. I am the owner of an 850 square foot apartment.
“I will,” I said to Robert. “I’ll rent out my apartment and move in with you.”
Robert was very happy. “Now I can put you and all my things in one place.” He assured me my commute to UCLA wouldn’t be so bad. He knows a top secret shortcut through Encino Hills.
Three months later, I officially became a resident of the Valley. My commute to UCLA turned out to be horrible despite the top secret shortcut everyone knows, and it was really hot and windy at times. Sometimes I miss my apartment in Mar Vista.
As a California native who grew up in the South Bay, I definitely remember being able to hop on my bike and ride a mile to the beach. I can’t just visit my dear Westside friends. Now we had to come up with a whole plan, one that usually involved me making a trip far south on 405.
However, I love the Valley because that’s where my love lives, and the Valley has its charm. We enjoy the Lake Balboa Recreation Area with its swan paddle boats, as well as enjoyable warm summer evenings by our pool. I also had good friends. The residents of the valley are lovely and people really talk to you in the grocery store. Oh, and I got married in the Valley.
Robert and I were married in the backyard of our Lake Balboa home on a horrendously hot day in May 2008. Our Westside and Valley friends and family were present. The Santa Ana winds blew the wedding tent into the pool, and our cake melted in the heat. But we don’t mind. We were together – and still happy.
The author is a retired UCLA administrator currently working on America’s next great cat mystery novel. She lives in Lake Balboa. Her on Instagram: @lakebalboagirl.
LA Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its splendor in the LA area, and we’d love to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Send an email to LAaffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission instructions here. You can find past columns here.
https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2022-07-15/la-affairs-met-perfect-guy-found-out-he-lived-in-the-valley Could I skip the Westside for the Valley for love?