Illustration by Ryan WardEcho and Cassie have known each other
since elementary school in Beverly
Hills. Back in middle school they were Mean Girls. You know: You cant talk
to me, today! You can walk 10 feet behind me!
That was when the two, who asked to remain anonymous, started coming down to Venice Beach to sneak smokes and walk back and forth along the boardwalk all day.Seated on the shady grass near the Venice Beach skate park, Echo, now a 23-year-old actress and history buff, looks at the Camel Light in her hand and shrugs apologetically, Were still smoking. Cassie, who wears oversize shades, pink Vans and a brown fake fur coat, is now a singer/painter/waitress. She lives near Los Feliz but came out here last night, she says, to get away from Hollywood. The people, the scene, the pretentiousness. Cassie describes her friend Echo as having the biggest heart in the world, and is glad just to have some time to digest whats been going on with her life recently and to have her old pal by her side. Besides, she says, she kind of grew up around here and has always had a strong attachment to the water. You always say how good the air is, Echo reminds her, exhaling a drag. After middle school the two girls lost touch but reconnected six months ago and discovered they liked all the same music and were going through all the same things. Early twenties angst, as Echo calls it. What am I doing? Where am I going? Why cant I figure it all out?
This afternoon theyve been locating some answers to their questions about career, dreams and, most important, the difference between, as Echo has christened it, L-U-V and L-O-V-E.Both girls have been in L-U-V with guys who werent ready to commit and look forward to L-O-V-E. Cassie, who is totally over her L-U-V guy, is worried that shes been too preoccupied with him and hasnt taken her singing seriously enough. She wants to go back to school (Art Center sounds good) and is even talking about traveling around Europe for a while.I feel like Im not doing enough, she explains. Echo thinks school would help Cassie focus, and that, in terms of leaving the
country, its important to remember: Wherever you go, there you are.
The good news is that Cassie describes her recent realization that her former friend with benefits will never be the one, as an epiphany.People are only going to give you what theyre going to give you, she says. You take what they can give and focus on what you need to do. Echo, who thinks Cassie has everything in the world going for her, except the ability to see herself objectively, isnt into the fact that some cool dude in a band strung her pal along for a year and half. But Cassie is reluctant to come down on the guy. He has an extremely warm heart. Besides, it takes two to tangle... Oops
Echo has her own guy who wont commit, but shes not done dancing. Hes a director who lives in New York and they met two years ago on a set. It was the first time she ever felt a real connection with a guy. The sex [was] as good as Valium, she says bluntly. When they first hooked up, the intensity of her feelings were too much so she broke it off twice.
Finally he told her she was too high maintenance and took off. They still e-mail and she thinks about him all the time, especially when Bright Eyes is playing in her car. A couple of months ago she went to New York, and they had two of the best days in the world, but afterward he didnt return her call. The boy is completely unavailable, she says smiling and relishing the mere thought of him. There was never anything real there. How can you have love when its completely one-sided? But Im not over fucking him, she says, smiling again slyly. I try to take the high road, but the high roads just not that gratifying. I
finally wrote him and told him how much I liked him, and he wrote back, I
appreciate your e-mail
... Its like chasing a drug. Its L-U-V instead of
Cassie wishes her friend would have faith that shell meet someone better. I hate to be cliché, but [you can meet someone new] at a time when you least expect it. Echo, who lives in a single right up the street, says she doesnt know why, but she never thinks anyone is good enough for her.What does that say about me? She admits it might help if she would stop telling every cute guy she meets about him.
cute guy moved down the street from me, she explains in an excited voice that may indicate shes more over her ex than she thinks. Immediately I told him about the guy in New York I am in love with. My [other] friend was like, You need
to stop saying youre in a relationship! Because youre not
and you havent been for two years
!?The girls are out of cigarettes and its starting to get cold. Theyve been here for about an hour, and in a minute theyre going to go get some coffee or a beer, Echo says.Rising to her feet, Cassie laughs and suggests it could be worse; Echo could be Jennifer Aniston and her ex could be on the cover of W
magazine with Angelina Jolie. Closing her coat to the wind, she shakes the Camel box one more time just to make sure there is nothing left. Wait girls! One last thing, what is L-O-V-E then?
I believe love is when you are going through life as one, says Cassie, shoving the empty box into her pocket. Where you can look back to where you were at the beginning of the relationship
and youve grown together. Youve ascended to the next level. You inspire each
other... you bloom together.