The waiter brought the check and cleared the plates from the table. He had just finished a carnitas burrito with Spanish rice and black beans, and her, two pulled beef enchiladas with smashed pinto beans and a side of guacamole. She sipped the last of her water with lemon and he paid the bill in cash declining a request for change from the waiter. They made their way to the back entrance of Mexicali through the dimly, candle lit atmosphere adorned with dark wood tables and floors. She opened the door and made her way down the five concrete steps and he followed.
The sky was a dark shade of blue with a hint of red and orange on the horizon. The stars were just about ready to come out to play as the sun lowered itself into a deep sleep. They approached his silver 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee and he unlocked the door with his single key. She waited for him to open his door and unlock hers from the inside panel. He positioned himself in the car, as did she, placing her eggplant colored Henri Bendel bag on the floor by her feet which wore dark brown leather flip flops. She sat quietly on the tethered, black leather seats with her hands folded in her lap. He asked her if they should sit idle in the car just as the rest of the people of Los Angeles did. She laughed.
He reversed the car and proceeded onto Ventura Boulevard and made his way to Mulholland Drive. He asked her where she wanted to go. She said she didn’t have a preference; she just wanted to see the city at night. Listening to her request, he drove up into the Hollywood hills with his GPS navigating the way. The road was small, only one lane going each way. Every 30 feet they approached a new turn forcing him to maneuvered his steering wheel left or right and press lightly on the brake pedal. The further up the hill they went, the quieter the car got. The faint sounds of Drake’s Nothing Was the Same played in the background as the altitude slowly but surely increased the pressure in the air causing their ears to pop.
As he turned a sharp bend up the hill, she looked over at him and then out the driver’s side window to see the city of lights below them. The view was nothing short of amazing. The sky was starting to turn black, but you could still see a brush of deep red along the tips of the mountains. He looked over to his left and found a lookout point, carefully crossed the lane of incoming traffic and parked his Jeep in the dirt-paved alcove. They both got out of the car and walked over to the thick wooden barricade and examined the view.
The city lights glimmered in the darkness of the atmosphere. If you looked at them long enough they started to dance; like little ballerinas twirling in place on a stage in front of thousands of people. Straight down the middle of the horizon laid a crooked, thick line of red and white lights from the congested city traffic below. And in the distance you could see dim, orange lights from the homes in the mountains across the sky.
They paused for a minute after taking in the view and she commented about the planes. The air traffic was almost as heavy as the street traffic. Like little fireflies in the sky, the airplanes ascended into the darkness of the night making their way to their final destination. It added a bit of life to the now completely blackened sky; they floated along as their light-year counterparts remained still.
She was breathless. He was curious. She grabbed him and pulled him closer to her and asked him to hug her. He did. She rested her head on his right shoulder looking away from the horizon and into the steady flowing traffic on the winding road behind them. Then she turned her head to his left and rested it there with her nose nestled into his soft, black hoodie. She peered over at the horizon but it wasn’t long before the dancing city lights turned to a blur and a tear fell from her eyes and onto her cheek; it tumbled down and made its way onto his jacket. A few more dripped down and then she took a small breath in through her nose as it made a sniffling sound. He asked her if she was crying. She said yes. He asked her why but she told him she didn’t know. But she did know.
She was sad that their time had come to an end. Not only was her trip to the beautiful city of Los Angeles ending the next day, but their hope for love had just been shattered, too. She explained to him that she wanted it to work out; she wanted to fall in love with him. She wanted to feel that feeling again - the butterflies in your stomach, heart racing, mind numbing feeling. The feeling most would call love, or lust. But either way, she wanted it; she hoped for it, she longed for it. She hoped for their feelings to grow and for their love to blossom like a field full of fresh blooming flowers in the spring. But you can’t form a relationship on hope. You can’t make something happen based on your longing for a feeling.
She turned her head toward his. Their foreheads touched, then she moved her lips closer to his until they locked. Her cheeks were still damp from the tears that had just fallen from her eyes. He placed his hand on her cheek and helped her wipe them away. He didn’t want her to cry because it made him sad. She stopped and they just stood there, chest to chest, their arms wrapped around each other, high up in the mountains overlooking the city of lights.
He asked her if she wanted to go. She said yes, no, not yet. He said they could stay a couple more minutes. Once she was ready, she gave him one last kiss atop the mountain and made their way back to the car. His GPS guided them down the mountain and back onto Ventura Boulevard until they were emerged in the crooked line of red and white lights they had been peering at just moments before. They were now just another part of the dancing lights, glimmering in the dark sky under the moon.
Francesca Bucci, The Most Beautiful Breakup