On Saturday, I wake up to a message from a girlfriend. She's thinking maybe let's skip Chateau Marmont tonight, and just hang out close to home. Maybe go to Autumn Lights, in Pershing Square? I reply with passive aggression that I immediately regret, Whatever you want. I'm disappointed. It had been her idea to go in the first place, and I was excited to get out of downtown. Excited to go to a straight bar, for a change. Her boyfriend was going to come, so I could have done my own thing while they did theirs. And I could have had wingmen, for once.

She knows I'm upset and apologizes for changing plans; she's just not feeling Hollywood. I'm not mad, though, and I tell her. I'm just low and lonely and feeling sorry for myself. Distraction, as always, is my drug. And there's only so much to be distracted by, around the same ten blocks I see all day, every day.

I tell her I'll catch up with her and her boyfriend later, but I have zero intention of fulfilling that promise. I'm spiraling down, fast. Hitting a wall, though it feels more like the wall is hitting me. Before I know it, I'm slumped on the bathroom floor. Where the fuck did this come from? I roll around on the rock bottom for a while, absolutely leveled, before it disappears, just as quickly as it came.

It. Whatever "it" is. Something that can't be defined, but that feels more real than me.

It goes, and a shocking jolt of optimism takes its place. Now I'm laughing. Laughing at myself, even. What the hell was I so upset about? It's a gorgeous afternoon, my apartment is spotless, and a surge of motivation hits me. I decide to get pizza, plug into a quiet night at home, and work on my portfolio. Chaucer comes with me, four blocks, to pick up three slices of Two Boots. I'm feeling up, up, up again.

After I eat, I decide to just swing by Pershing Square and check out Autumn Lights. People milling about draw me in, as ever. Chaucer makes friends. I get a quick fix of socialization. 

A friend calls me as I'm outfitting Chaucer with a glow necklace. She can see me in the park, from her apartment window. I look up and wave, and she and her boyfriend come down to check out the installations before walking to dinner. She and I text for a bit afterward, and it helps me feel less isolated, standing as I am, surrounded by hundreds of strangers. I take Chaucer home, but I don't want to stay in. It's Saturday night, and I can hear the streets below filled with shouts and laughter.

I become momentarily convinced that I am the last single person in Los Angeles.

I go back to the park. I play with Hipstamatic and wander for another hour, before sitting on a low concrete wall, smack in the middle of the park. The park lights are all off, and the various displays of lights, LED sculptures, multi-media projections, lasers, blacklight, and glow paints stand out in glorious vividness. A band is playing at the front of the park, the lead singer of which sounds vaguely like Sigur Ros.

I lay back on the wall, place my phone on my stomach, and close my eyes. I feel intensely, painfully lonely. The crazy thing is, I have turned down four invitations from others, to do things tonight. This is completely self-imposed. An acquaintance is in town; he invited me out when we ran into one another on the street, Friday. A friend-of-a-friend invited me to tag along with him and friends to Nocturnal Wonderland this weekend. Another friend invited me to Venice tonight, to crash their guys' night. And my girlfriend, once she realized how bummy I was this morning, re-issued the original invitation to go to Hollywood.

I turned it all down. I have no idea why. Wait, yes I do. Because it all felt very fifth-wheely. Invitations extended out of generosity. What, Ellie? You have nothing to do tonight? You should come...

I'm making one last walk-through, dawdling before heading back home, when I run into him. Rather, he runs into me. I'm watching some kids participate in an interactive visual illusion, when he steps through, momentarily interrupting the exhibit. I'm extending my leg to gently kick him and get his attention when he suddenly notices me. Smiles. A lingering hug. He's on his way to a birthday party, gift in hand. We're not really saying much, just repeating empty greetings, but he's not walking away. I feel myself grinning. I can't help it: from day one, I've broken into a smile every time I see him. It's a hard an impossible habit to break. 

We're standing exceptionally close. I'm fingering the sleeve of his t-shirt, keeping my face cast down, glancing up at him every few seconds. He halfheartedly tells me to stop, his voice low and husky, and wraps his hand around my waist. I laugh, because I have to; it's too much. It's just enough. "Here we are again," I say. "Standing in the middle of some festival, hanging one to one another." I lean closer. He loses his breath, inhales sharply, then lets out a deep sigh. The world feels like it's tipping back into its proper axis. Something, he's saying something. He's been thinking about me today. Is that what he said? Consuming my thoughts. I think that's what I hear. The phrasing is delicious, that I know. But it doesn't matter. I shouldn't listen to these words, anyway. They're candy that melts much too fast on my tongue. A sugar rush after which I'll crash. And crave again.

We're practically kissing, we're so close. His hand moves around to my stomach; he's telling me I look good. I take his palm and place it under my shirt, flat on my bare belly. He makes a noise. All I know, the only thing I can think, is how good he smells, because now I'm putting my lips to his neck. "I still have your boxers," I murmur. "You should come get them later." Now we are kissing, carelessly amongst the crowd. 

I'm being ridiculous, reckless with my own feelings, but it's ok. I feel strangely ok with the gamble I'm taking. What else is there to lose? It's all gone, anyway. And right now I feel more alive than I have in days. The only thing that cuts through the numbness is the feel of his breath on my shoulder. He whispers in my ear, an explicit description of the state I've put him in. I cannot stop smiling, and I don't want him to leave. We finally break the embrace and go our separate ways. As I move through the crowd, I'm convinced my body is glowing just as brightly as the bulbs and baubles they're gazing at.

Back home, I hang Chaucer's oversized, neon green necklace on his door, and text him. I lost my glow sticks somewhere. Would you let me know if you find them? 

Later, connection again. He has new work to show to me, and one piece makes me laugh out loud, the idea is so clever. He also has new music to share, sensual and layered. A soundtrack for the next few hours. The warmth of his touch, his words. I've missed this, he says. You're so beautiful. And the worst, the best, the most confounding and infuriating and satisfying: There's no one else like you. Words, words, words. Words to torture and tease, words that could be truth or lies, words that don't change anything. Sometimes I'm afraid no one will ever love me as much as you do. I lose no time in assuring him that's true. They won't, I say softly, as I move my mouth across his body. I've got words, too.

Relapse. Two steps forward, three steps back.