Shitty magazines covered by less shitty magazines

A year ago, I left Los Angeles and in turn, broke up with this guy I had been seeing for about 6 months. We had been friends for approximately a year prior and he seemed okay until he fucked my whole life up.

His name was Kyle. I’m not trying to sugar-coat or censor any of this. He was lovely, sometimes. He did nice things for me and was… uncomfortably… protective. He had his own issues that did not really affect me, but he also pretended he didn’t have those issues when they were staring us both in the face.
Less on that.
We met at work, on some film set in Studio City, California, and I had thought he was a cute, but seemingly stupid scruffy mountain man. Later, the next year, we worked on a different show together and I told him about how excited I was to have a day off so I could finally go hiking after such a long week of work.
He asked if he could join and I was like, “Yeah if you’ll actually show up.”
LA people tend to flake – a LOT – and because of that, I always hiked alone. I didn’t even bother asking anyone to come because they would cancel sometimes an hour after we were supposed to leave, while I was waiting for them. Surprisingly, that day Kyle showed up (he was a half hour late, but he was there).
That, plus that we got along very well that day (I learned that he did indeed have a brain) made us eventually start dating. It was weird at first since we didn’t have any connection at all prior to this one time we hung out alone and he showed up unlike the vast majority of Angelinos. None of our friends understood it. We didn’t really fully understand it. Kyle wanted to be exclusive and I was like “sure.”
So a few months in, I got to know Kyle very well. He liked to hang out inside and do nothing… or drink… on his off days. I joined him many times, since we were dating, and my attempts at making him join me in LA’s naked bike ride never panned out. We never hiked that spot 1.5 hours southeast of LA with the ladder and crevice of orange rock I wanted to explore. No, instead I got a couple UTIs, he let my beloved pet bird out of my house, and when the drug reaction started, I had to convince him to pick me up from the hospital when he asked, “Why can’t you take an Uber?” while an IV was stuck in my arm. That’s not even half of it.
There were the times he would literally hit me in the face very hard, waking me up, because he was in such a deep sleep and perhaps wasn’t used to sleeping in the same bed with someone else. Other times, in the same deep sleep, he would murmur about how much he loved me and cared about me. Nighttime was a toss-up.
He was barely aware of anything, but I believe he had a good heart deep inside…maybe.
The one thing I did get from this relationship is a little game Kyle would play anytime we went to the Ralph’s in Koreatown, next to that events center that was always a hassle to drive around if there ever was an actual event. We used to play “Operation Cover Up”… or Project Cover Up. I don’t really remember the exact name, but he’s the one ex I don’t talk to, so I’m not going to try to get it right.
So Project Cover Up goes like this: You know, when you’re checking out at Target or a grocery store or wherever and there are stacks of these horrifying magazines with bold letters shouting rumors about people/topics no one should care about – like Kim Kardashian’s possible new plastic surgery, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s divorce, or whatever?
While waiting in line, you cover up those weird magazines with less shitty ones, like National Geographic, sometimes Time, Food Network (they have a magazine), or literally anything else that doesn’t tell you how to lose 50 lbs in one week or who’s dating who in the celebrity world. It’s a nice gesture Kyle pays to the world that I have taken upon myself.
I noticed the other day that I had continued the tradition as I was standing in line at a WalMart (yes, I had entered a WalMart). My brother was buying cheap paint and I had noticed a ton of shitty magazines that needed covering up. As I covered photoshopped celebrities with pictures of food and landscapes, I remembered Kyle, this weird scrappy human I used to know, and how relationships help you grow as people, regardless of how much you’ve taken out of those relationships.
With this, perhaps the only thing I got out of it was the Project Cover Up game… or maybe it’s that sometimes people are not black and white, but rather gray. I remember the story he used to tell me about how his grandmother would look to the right for his grandfather while he drove in order to tell him if there was any oncoming traffic before a turn, and how Kyle wanted us to be that couple. I remember when he took me to a Halloween-themed festival-thing before I left LA because we could have done anything, but he knew how much I loved Halloween. He quit smoking so he could date me (I have a strict deal-breaker rule against it). He used to pick up my paychecks if I wasn’t working and he would let me sleep in his apartment when he wasn’t home. He used to say, “I feel like the Universe really doesn’t want us to be together,” and I wish I had left him when we both started feeling that way.
It wasn’t even him that was so shitty, but all of the events that resulted from being with him. I still felt like it was all meant to happen, somehow, for some reason. Hopefully he got something more from his relationship with me, but all I got as a souvenir, I think, was this strange grocery store game. Thanks, Kyle.