The overlook where our protagonists met.
What brings people together? Common interests, values and hobbies. It’s nearly impossible for people with radically different pursuits and lifestyles to become a couple. So how do you meet people that like a few of the things you do? You could stalk peoples’ profiles on Facebook, pay $60 a month to join Eharmony.com or simply meet people while doing things that both of you like doing.
That’s what this story is about.
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving I was plugging away at writing the outline of my first novel, and after a grueling three hours, I needed to exercise and shake off the monotony of sitting in a chair. I’ve always liked running -- not on a treadmill, but outside where you can feel the sunshine, notice the world around you, eyeball a target destination and get there and back.
Heading out of my home in Culver City with an iPod, keys and a black hoodie, I set my sights on the Baldwin Hills Scenic Lookout, a hill that presents a great view of the city, from Santa Monica to Downtown. It has a gradual ½ mile uphill trail or 282 steep concrete steps to climb.
Heading up the trail, I noticed a girl at the top. She was Caucasian with brown hair pulled back in a pony tail and she was very focused on doing her leg exercises. She wore a gray sweater and blue tights, revealing a fit, body. She was pretty in a casual way, a girl-next-door type that would probably look stunning dolled up.
My mind froze and I couldn’t think of anything to say, not even a simple question to ask, like what time it was or what was the name of the hill. As I stalled, she finished her workout and jogged the hill.
Letting an opportunity like that slip away left a tinge of disappointment on my mind as I headed home. I resolved that the next day if I saw a girl I wanted to talk to, I would ask her a simple question. My goal was to train myself, one small step at a time, to become better able to meet and chat with strangers, both men and women.
Wednesday morning at 11:00 a.m., I finished my writing and excitedly headed out the door on my run. Arriving at the bottom of the hill, I stashed my hoodie behind a bush because it was hot in Los Angeles during the late fall, and I’d also be able to show off my guns in a sleeveless nylon shirt.
Nearing the top, I looked up to see a girl with dark brown skin, gazing nonchalantly at the view ahead. Her blue sweater and gray tights showcased a lean figure, which she paired, rather oddly, with black aviator sunglasses and a checkered black and gray cap. She looked fairly stylish for a girl on a run.
Adrenaline and nervousness raced through my body. What to say? What to do? “Eye of the Tiger” had been playing on my iPod, so I pumped my hands in the air, shouting “Yeah!” while enjoying my Rocky moment.
I leaned on the railing overlooking the city and, to no one in particular, asked if anyone knew the area of town a cluster of buildings were stationed at between Century City and the Downtown skyline
The dark-skinned girl turned to me and was unsure of where I was referring to. We were 20 feet apart, and I commented how I was aware of the other sites that the view offered, the Santa Monica Beach, Sony Pictures in Culver City and Griffith Park but that particular cluster of buildings was a mystery, perhaps it was Sunset Blvd. While neither of us knew the answer, we inched closer and closer, maintaining a casual chat.
“Why aren’t you sweaty?” I asked with a grin, observing her dry clothing. “Didn’t you just go for a run?”
She chuckled and told me about her routine, walking up and down the steps two times, and pausing at the top.
I find when you’re talking with someone you don’t know, it is up to you to further the conversation. The two of you know nothing about each other, so I find it best to reveal a bit of something about you, such as your job, passion or hobby. Make it brief, and if the other person is curious to know more, they’ll let you know.
“I really like to run,” I said. “And it’s a great way to release all that extra energy after I’ve been writing all day.”
We chatted about writing, my business and then I learned about her. She is an exchange student from Ethiopia studying physical therapy at a local community college, but her real passion is in fashion. She works for a popular jeans company, and in her free time she likes to run and go out to nightclubs.
As we talked, I told her that I think each day is maximized when you do five things: work, exercise, socialize, relax and create/learn. With a smile, I noted how we were doing two out of five in the same activity.
Soon I felt that slight moment that told me it was time to go, akin to a prompter signaling a speaker to wrap it up and finish, leaving the audience wanting more.
I suggested we go running again sometime. But there was a problem, how would I contact her? I had no pen, paper or cellphone and neither did she. I asked her to tell me her email address and I would remember it by the time I got home.
As we jogged down the hill, I found my hoodie and we happily parted ways.
It was a fun and unexpected encounter for both of us. I was excited to have met someone, let alone an attractive dark-skinned beauty, in a moment when I was doing something that I liked to do. I bet if we had met at a nightclub, the conversation would have not been so easygoing, because people bring a lot of barriers and personal shields when they meet someone in that environment.
But not while going for a run. Not when you’re enjoying the sun, exhausting the body and feeling that surge of adrenaline. Those are the best times to connect with someone, and if something more should come of it, you can always plan to meet another day.
Just make sure you bring a pen and paper at all times, just in case.