I was an L.A. wild child. I danced on tables and hung out with my favorite local bands. The Kibitz Room on Fairfax Avenue was my home away from home. Back then, my dating life consisted of yearning for musicians, and my long-term relationships were mostly with blue-eyed bass players. Always the bass players! They’re beautiful to look at but not necessarily the type of people who are wanting to settle down and start a family — like I was.
I still went to shows, helped carry gear and stayed hopeful while writing my own love songs along the way.
When my building in Venice Beach was being sold and I was paid to move out, I jumped at the chance for a change of scenery.
I had attended my best friend’s wedding in Maui, and I knew that’s where I was headed. In search of adventure and love, I picked up my check and packed my bags, and through a series of life-changing coincidences, I moved to a beachfront ohana, a guest house in the tourist town of Lahaina. It could not have been more perfect.
I spent my first day walking around Front Street, the main drag, hoping to book a trip to swim with dolphins. That’s when I met Carrie, an Arkansas transplant working at a ticket kiosk. She booked me on a whale-watching boat named Lanakila, which means triumphant in Hawaiian. In her sweet Southern drawl, she told me she had a feeling I would hit it off with the first mate, a guy named Sean Paul. She also let me know the bars he frequented and told me to tell him that she had sent me.
Newcomers to Maui often experience a phenomenon known as Maui magic, and meeting Carrie that day was certainly kismet. With my ticket in hand and a skip in my step, I arrived at the harbor early the next morning, brimming with confidence while wearing red lipstick and oversized sunglasses — true to my L.A. self.
And there he was.
I watched quietly as he took his time carefully fitting kids with goggles for snorkeling.
Wow, I thought, he’s good with kids — a great sign. I boldly walked up and introduced myself: “Hi, I’m Dawn. Carrie sent me.”
He responded with a skeptical “Who?” before shooting me a dubious look and going on with his work. A Hawaiian native, he was not impressed with me — this L.A. woman.
Later I learned that the harbor locals had a saying: The bigger the sunglasses, the bigger the attitude.
As the day on the boat wore on, Sean warmed up to me, big sunglasses and all.
Holding my hand underwater, he and I snorkeled together for hours. Although it was my first time snorkeling, I thought I knew it all and didn’t feel I needed coaching. (It’s a trait I have to this day.)
“Slow down and take your time,” Sean said, instructing me as I quickly kicked my fins.
When I retorted with a sassy “I can do what I want” and a smile, he shook his head.
He knew what he was dealing with — an L.A. chick. I didn’t swim with dolphins that day, but I swam with Sean. Free-diving deep into the water, he brought up beautiful shells to show me. He was a real-life Aquaman.
A naturalist, he narrated to passengers as the humpback whales slapped their fins on the water and leapt out of the ocean alongside our boat. As Sean spoke, spinner dolphins joyfully spun in the air while swiftly swimming past us in pods by the hundreds. It was an awe-inspiring experience. Adventure and the potential for love were happening to me at once.
When the trip was over, I knew it was time to make my move. I scribbled down my number and handed it to him. I asked him where he was going for happy hour.
To my surprise, he called an hour later. I met him at a sushi bar, and I did most of the talking. Sean endeared me with his quiet warmth. He shared his sushi with me, bought me a drink and listened as I told him my life story.
On a whim, I told him that I could guess his birthday. It was an intuitive parlor trick I had honed over the years. “Your birthday is March 7, the 17th or the 27th,” I said. “I’m going to choose March 17th.”
Without saying a word, Sean pulled out his driver’s license from his wallet and put it down on the bar. There it was: March 17. Talk about my psychic radar being on that night!
It was a sign to me that I was where I was supposed to be and with the person I was supposed to be with.
He wasn’t an elusive blue-eyed bass player chasing dreams, like I was used to. There was no game-playing with Sean. He was a kind and emotionally present waterman I had found in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The rest, as they say, is history. We were engaged after three months, and I brought my Hawaiian fiancé back to Southern California, ready to start our life together. We were married in Malibu, and my friends in those L.A. bands sang at our wedding. However, settling in L.A. was a challenge for a guy more used to wearing fins than being stuck in traffic on the 405 Freeway.
Therefore, we compromised and settled in Ventura County, where I had been raised. The traffic wasn’t busy, and it was a wonderful place to raise our two children. Our home in Camarillo is a 12-minute drive on the Pacific Coast Highway to the beach, and we’re an hour from L.A., so I can still see the music I love. As a bonus, we catch sunsets at Point Mugu, which keeps us both happy.
L.A. has been good to me. It sent me on a journey to find the man of my wildest dreams — in a place far from Fairfax but now still close to home.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here. You can find past columns here.