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The Lonely Hearts Club

Krissy Clark

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Lost Hearts
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The signs started showing up in Los Angeles about a month ago. I saw the first one on my way to the video rental place. It was stapled to a telephone pole. Then I spotted one taped to a stop sign in front of a beer garden. So I started keeping my eye out, asking strangers if they'd seen them too.

"I think there's one on that poll right there," said one man I asked. "It's right below the garage sale sign." Right above a sign for guitar lessons, by Diego. There was one on Sunset Boulevard across from a gelato place and catty corner to a laundramat.

At first glance it looks like a home-made sign for a lost cat. But then you start to read it.
Like this guy did: "The lost, I lost my ... Aw." Most people start saying "aw" about half way through their reading of the sign. I stood by the sign for twenty minutes and watched people's reactions. The homeless guy pulling a roller bag doesn't read it.
But the Filipino couple on their way to the laundramat does. The woman starts beaming when she finishes reading the sign. "Two, three days before," she says, "when we walked together, my husband he looked at this sign and he read it. We smiled together." Another woman jogs by the sign in sweat pants and says "I think it's very cute. Maybe they're trying to pick somebody up."

Here's what the sign says. In big black letters:

I lost my heart somewhere between downtown LA and Venice.
It might be broken.

Below that, a big hand-sketched heart. And underneath, these words:

If found, please email
I really need it back!!

It's cute, right? But who's really going to respond to this thing? No one I meet in front of the sign is planning to. "I'll probably forget the email address by the time I get home," one person says. "I think friends are a better shoulder to cry on than random strangers," says another. "And I think that's the best possible scenario of the people that would call. It would probably be creepier."

One girl doing errands thought I had written the poster. I assured her I had not.

But after I saw the poster, I was curious. So, I emailed. You know, in the name of investigative journalism. A very cryptic response came back.
It was impossible to tell if it was a guy or a girl, and how or if the heart in question was really lost. But this person had received a lot of responses. Thirty so far.

One from a self-described "twenty-one-year-old redhead from New Jersey." She sent a picture of her broken-heart tattoo.

One from someone named "T" who wrote "basically life is a bitch. And there are lots of trips along the way, lots of people trying to deceive you, and you have to be careful of who you let in to your circle of trust."

"Dear find my heart at gmail.com," reads one of the emails, "I saw you're poster on the corner of Whitley and Yucca in Hollywood. The same corner where I lost my heart a few years ago, and I decided to help you find yours."

That guy is really a man named Justin Walters. I meet him at a sidewalk cafe in Hollywood. He's 29 and single, in sales. He tells me he spent more than an hour composing his email to the lost-heart person. "Part of what got me with the poster," he explains, "It was about 100 feet from where I really, really hurt somebody bad and didn't mean to. It was a small thing. An ex-girlfriend told me she loved me, and I didn't answer. And I ... it's something that I still regret. That's kind of what the poster brought back to me. And so yeah, I just wanted them to know that they weren't by themselves and if they were by themselves there was somebody they could call."

Caite Bonsie is a graphic designer, originally from New Hampshire. I meet her at her house, in Silverlake, with her dog, Polly. "She doesn't bite or anything," Caite assures me. She tells me she saw one of the "Lost heart" posters on a walk through her neighborhood.

"I saw it, and I glanced at it. I read it, and I went hmmm. And I walked away. And I turned around and came back," she says. "It spoke to me. It seemed like it was almost like a message from my past life. In 2001, the period right after my mother died in April, I felt so lost.

"It was really hard for me to get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other and get in the car, and drive to work. And when I would come home I would go to the liquor store, get a pack of cigarettes and a beer, one beer, and I would drink a half a beer and put the other half in the refrigerator and go online with my grief group, and I felt like somewhere along the way, I lost my sense of self."

Caite says she imagines the person behind the poster is a guy. A twenty-something musician who fell in love with a woman who slipped away. She feels funny connecting to someone she's never met. But she emailed him. And she prays for him. She says to him, in her mind, "Oh sweetie. You know you're suffering now because your heart needs to open up."

One more thing, about Caite: Two months ago, at age 47, after years of solitary grieving and nights of half-beers, Caite tells me, she found her heart. At a Christmas party. He's a musician from Montreal. And she says he's not afraid of all her baggage.

"I always think that people get kind of scared when you need them," Caite says. "That you'll need them too much. I've seen that a lot. People just back away. Like, 'this is too intimate.' I guess I can kind of understand it, because it can be painful" she laughs. Then she pauses.

"Do you know who Aimee Mann is?" she asks. "You know that song "Save Me"? That song came up in my shuffle and I was like, 'wow this is it, this is our song!' Because of that whole thing about 'save me from the ranks of the freaks who suspect they could never love any one.' And I was just like, 'oh my god!'"

That's how the song goes.

Save me/ Come on and save me/ From the ranks of the freaks who suspect they could never love anyone.

Caite quit her job this week, and she's moving to Montreal in a few, to be with her heart. And get married.


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