I’ve waited 4 years for him to move to LA

Chad’s profile picture on Tinder was a black and white photo of him singing into a microphone with a fedora on his head. This guy is an idiot I thought. A handsome dork. I swiped right.

It was 2017, my senior year at Northeastern University in Boston. Chad was only a sophomore at Berklee College of Music. He went to school for a few years to go on tour with his band. On our first date, we found out that our freshman apartments were two blocks apart. We visited the same supermarket.

“We probably passed each other and didn’t know it,” he said with a smile on his face.

The night went so well. However, I felt it necessary to stop by since I moved to Los Angeles after graduating to pursue writing and stand-up comedy.

Undeterred, he replied, “I love LA”

Weeks later we worked side by side in his bed. I glanced at some of the lyrics on his open laptop. One line read: “All those wasted years that I thought were overdue led me to you.”

That Christmas, Chad drove me to his family’s home in Delaware. He held my hand and said, “It would be cool if we were in LA together.”

I was about to graduate, Chad’s band was breaking up, and he had a plan. He would race through Berklee and join me in LA in a year

I unpacked my new apartment in Santa Monica and started counting down the days. My countdown was only relevant for one week.

Chad called. A management team auditioned on campus for a new Nashville band. I stood petrified near Wilshire Boulevard.

“I’m sure nothing will happen,” he told me. “But I should at least audition.”

“You’re going to get it,” I said encouragingly, feeling a shift in my body as my future self placed a hand on my shoulder for comfort.

Days later he was in. He dropped out of college and moved to Nashville.

“I don’t want you to think I’m any less committed to us,” Chad said before I even asked.

He would still move to LA, he mused. He had a feeling that one of two things would happen. Either the band would become a huge overnight success and he would have the means to live in LA and travel to Nashville just for work. Or it would flop and he’d head west with newfound connections. We drank the Kool-Aid and ignored the obvious option.

On that July 4th, I walked alone through Santa Monica until I reached the beach. I watched the groups of friends and couples around me as fireworks erupted over the Pacific. Here, too, one day you will have friends and a lover, I said to myself.

For years we have given our best. Our days moved to the rhythm of good morning text messages and evening FaceTimes. Video calls couldn’t scratch the itch, but we kept dialing.

Chad went to LA and I went to Nashville. Whenever he visited, Chad would be on the front row of my shows, whether it was the Comedy Store or a pub in Tarzana. I made the whole room laugh with jokes about him. When I saw Chad perform, whether at the Grand Ole Opry or anywhere on the street, he would take a moment with each song to make sure I knew he was singing to me.

Whenever we were together, there was a suitcase nearby.

Every time I flew in to see him, band members, management and everyone on the street would say, “When are you moving to Nashville?”

That question was a well-intentioned knife in my chest. “No,” I wanted to shout, “when is Chad moving to LA?”

In 2020 there were fewer reasons to be apart. The entertainment world slowed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Chad and I lived together for months. We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas at my new Valley condo. Chad cooked breakfast for me in my kitchen like it was his. We walked down Ventura Boulevard, smiled at other couples and pretended we were a full-time love story in LA too.

Around 2 p.m. on Christmas Day, Chad realized that normally by the afternoon, it hardly felt like Christmas anymore — with the presents unwrapped and the fuss over. Then he looked at me and said, “It still feels like Christmas.”

I wanted this all along. I only had it because the world shut down.

I needed a more solid plan, but all Chad could offer was “someday.” After four months of dating, “one day” felt magical. At four, it felt like our relationship wasn’t sitting in the front seat holding hands anymore. It was twiddling its thumbs in the back.

After one too many lonely Sundays, I told Chad on a visit that I couldn’t go on. When I told him, he said I gave him a renewed sense of urgency to come to LA

“I have more confidence in us now,” he said as we sipped margaritas at Casa Vega on our last night as a couple. I felt a glimmer of hope, like he could fly to Nashville and come back with a plan.

But there were no plans, only promises to help him get through a difficult moment.

Can you blame him? I can not. I also chose my passion.

I could still feel like Christmas, but I would never get a record deal. He could write a great song for me, but he couldn’t give me room after room of laughter like LA could.

When we said goodbye at Los Angeles International Airport, he told me he would take care of it. He looked me in the eye and said, “The band isn’t worth losing you.”

Then he got on a plane and lost me to the band.

The author is a writer and comedian based in Los Angeles. This website is elkethoms.com. She can be found on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok: @elkethoms.

LA Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the LA area, and we want to hear your real story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. The submission guidelines can be found here. Past columns can be found here.

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