I heard through Facebook that an acquaintance had died a couple of days ago.
Here's the thing, though. He was more than an acquaintance, a friend, someone I went on a couple of dates with 15 years ago. But this hit me differently. Memories of the meet cute, a couple of dates, and then running into him years later after I had left the City of Angels came flooding back. He was a good guy who loved life and all that it offered. I wish I had told him how much he had helped me in that small snippet of time when we first met.
It all went down late summer 2007 when I was living in Los Angeles. I was still new to the town and it was a weird place. I was just finished with an intense relationship with a guy who turned out to be less than stellar, and feeling like I had just gotten off of a roller coaster, not knowing my bearings. Often I would drive from my tiny studio apartment in Mar Vista, get Pinkberry frozen yogurt and go upstairs to the local video store in Marina Del Rey. I'm not sure what movie I was renting, probably some rom com or indie flick. I don't know.
But I was in the store and some good looking, slightly older than me guy was looking at me. I looked up, smiled, probably blushed, paid for my DVD rental, then went back to my car. I go to my car, started it up, and he's standing there at my window, handing me his phone number. His name was Jean-Paul. An attractive man who liked that I could converse with him in his native language of French.
I called him a couple of days later and we had a nice conversation. Met up for coffee or dinner, I honestly don't remember. He was from Corsica, divorced, loved his kids, and a tour guide. We had another date on the beach of Malibu soon after that. We sat on the beach, he poured wine, we chatted, and he ran off to body surf with my dog, Angie-Mae. She loved him. We got shooed off of the beach (no dogs allowed) and I remember he wasn’t pleased. My dog had a blast!
I didn't feel the love connection, so things just kindof fell off from there. I would often see him around the neighborhood, having coffee with other guys at the local coffee shop or loading his surfboard into his car. We would chat and say hello. He loved to surf and when he wasn't in LA, he was taking people on tours around his favourite parts of the United States. Even at almost 50, he was ambitious and wanted to do new things. He had told me several times that he wanted to be a police officer. He certainly was in good enough shape to do it. I'm not sure whatever came of it.
I moved on, moved to Woodland Hills with my now husband, had a baby, then back to Venice and never really saw him around. Then I left LA in 2015.
A couple years later, I went to one of my favourite coffee shops in Venice and see this good looking gentleman looking at me. Then it hit me - there he was, Jean-Paul. We had a nice catchup and became Facebook friends to stay in touch. I came back to the place I were renting for the week with my husband and told him about him. A day or so later, my husband Dave ran into him at the coffee shop and they had a couple of nice conversations. I'm sure there were lots of opinions and some politics thrown in, he loved to chat about that stuff. Funny how life works that way.
I would see his life adventures on Facebook and he even called me out of the blue in 2021, asking me my opinion about the Covid vaccine that I had let friends know that I had received. I was honored that he cared about my opinion, but not sure what he ultimately decided. Life was turned upside down for all of us and I know it was a concern for how he would proceed with the job that he enjoyed and his personal beliefs.
We had another conversation or so and then I saw recently that he was getting treatment for lung cancer. I thought if anybody could beat it, he could. He crossed my mind the other day, and now I keep wondering if that was the moment that he passed to the other side. I wish that I had sent him another message or made more comments on his page, or even just called him. Ah regret.
I saw the announcement today about the paddle out to honour him and am sad that I am not close enough to get there. I'm sure it will be magical and a wonderful tribute to his life.
Here's to you, Jean-Paul. May you be surfing and enjoying the wild adventures on the other side. Thank you again for your kindness and for the example you led of loving adventures and Mother Nature. I may send you a message or two on Facebook messages just to say hello. I believe in that stuff and thanks for believing in me. You will be missed.