FOUR DAYS LATER
Back home in Orange County, life had to return to normal. I started taking on more of a leadership role at work. I wanted to try and make supervisor and then move up to manager, because now that I had a college degree, I wanted that big manager money (so thankful this didn’t happen). I talked with Angela in the evenings – sometimes by phone, but mostly on AIM. We talked about our day and when I’d get another chance to come out to Vegas. This went on for the next several days until I arranged at work to get my shifts covered. Four days after returning home, I turned around and drove back to Vegas.
This time I wasn’t driving in Bryan’s family’s new car with all the bells and whistles. No, I was driving The Donald. The Donald didn’t have all the bells and whistles of a new car, it didn’t even have a driver side window. There was a tape deck where most people had CD players. I had one of those cassette adapters so I could listen to my mp3 player over the car stereo. The Donald was part of my whole package, so I hoped Angela wouldn’t be put off. Somewhere between Victorville and Barstow I snapped the alternator belt. I was able to get a jump, make it into Barstow, replace the belt and get back on the road.
I got to Vegas sometime that afternoon and drove over to Angela’s place. Unlike last time, I actually had to go inside and meet Angela’s cousin Jessica and her boyfriend Donnie. The trip was more spontaneous than thoughtfully planned, so I just assumed I was going to be crashing in Angela’s room. Reluctantly, Donnie and Jessica allowed me to stay.
Angela and I drove over to the theater to catch a movie. By this point, Napoleon Dynamite had been in the theaters for about five months, and was still pretty popular. Since neither of us had seen it yet, we made it a date. After the movie we snuck into the movie starting in the theater next to us – The Polar Express. Big mistake. It creeped both of us out. It was disturbing and unnecessary, so we left. To this day, I will not trust the opinions of a person who likes The Polar Express. Afterwards, we grabbed dinner and headed back to her place. It was still hot at night in November, so we sat out front of the house and talked. We eventually came back inside, watched a movie in her room and fell asleep.
SMOKERS ARE JOKERS
I woke up around 8 the next morning. Angela wasn’t in the room, and The Donald wasn’t out front of the house. She took my car out so she could learn to drive stick. Side note – this is one of maybe two times in our relationship where she woke up before me when she didn’t have to. I was only able to get two days off which meant after getting there the day before, I was already back on the road driving home.
Once home, I was able to rework my schedule and get three days offs between the 17th and 19th. So another four days at home and I was back on the road once again to see Angela. I must’ve really liked her, or something. Those drives to Vegas always went by quick.
Once I got to Vegas it was more of the same – hanging out, running errands, watching movies. This time, however, I also brought my PS2, DDR dance pads, and games. We played a bunch of DDR that weekend (I only started playing because Angela liked it). I got to meet Angela’s friend and coworker, Adrienne. Angela wasn’t always able to secure days off for my visit so on the nights she did have to work, I just drove around the city taking pictures of whatever.
ANGELA WORKED HERE
I ended up driving home on the 19th, but as soon as I got home I once again worked around my schedule to get a few days off. I was going to head to Vegas after Thanksgiving. I don’t remember how I got out off Black Friday working at Best Buy, but I did. The week came and went. My family convened at my grandparents’ house for our annual Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t mention my plans to my family, they’d think I was crazy. Dinner ended around 6 and I hit the road at about 7.
I got into Vegas after midnight and I went straight to bed at Angela’s. We got up around 5 in the morning and drove all the way back to Orange County. I can’t imagine having that level of energy today. We were coming back for an annual day-after-Thanksgiving breakfast with my best friend Brandon and his wife’s family at The Cottage in Laguna Beach, which has since been replaced with something else. Angela got to meet my closest friends that morning. Afterward, we walked around Main Beach.
We spent that weekend together, touring Orange County, me showing her as many of my favorite places as I could think of. We talked about life and grand plans, and made a few of our own. She got to meet my roommates, my dog Cletus, my iguana, Bastard, and got to see what my real daily life was like. But soon it was Sunday morning and it was time to take her home. As I was preparing to drive to Vegas again for the fourth time in three weeks, I thought there had to be a better way.
Could I sustain this in the long term? Read the next chapter in this story: The Long Way Home.