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L-u-v- Vs. L-o-v-e 

Thursday, Jul 21 2005
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Illustration by Ryan Ward“Echo” and “Cassie” have known each other since elementary school in Beverly Hills. Back in middle school they were “Mean Girls.” You know: “You can’t 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, “We’re 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 what’s 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 can’t I figure it all out?”This afternoon they’ve 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 weren’t ready to commit and look forward to L-O-V-E. Cassie, who is “totally over” her L-U-V guy, is worried that she’s been too preoccupied with him and hasn’t 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 I’m not doing enough,” she explains. Echo thinks school would help Cassie focus, and that, in terms of leaving the country, it’s 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 they’re 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, isn’t 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...“Tango!” Echo has her own guy who won’t commit, but she’s not done dancing. He’s 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 didn’t 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 it’s completely one-sided? But I’m not over fucking him,” she says, smiling again slyly. “I try to take the high road, but the high road’s 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’... It’s like chasing a drug. It’s L-U-V instead of L-O-V-E.” Cassie wishes her friend would have faith that she’ll 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 doesn’t 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. “This really cute guy moved down the street from me,” she explains in an excited voice that may indicate she’s 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 you’re in a relationship! Because you’re not and you haven’t been for two years!’?”The girls are out of cigarettes and it’s starting to get cold. They’ve been here for about an hour, and in a minute they’re 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 you’ve grown together. You’ve ascended to the next level. You inspire each other... you bloom together.”

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