Sunday evening, 5:00pm: We’re at Penn’s Landing. It’s crowded and hot and full of people who have gathered on the waterfront for the weekly cultural heritage festival (Portugal this week). I’ve been explaining why I’ve been so irritated and Date #7’s been apologizing for making me so irritated in the first place and before I can say another word, he leads me from the fountain where we’ve been sitting in the shade to the top of the plaza.
“Let’s dance,” he says.
“Here?” No one else is dancing. There are two men playing accordions but still, this is the food court.
By way of an answer, Date #7 takes my right hand in his left and slips his arm around my waist. He smiles at me and I find myself smiling back but then I remember that I am angry at him—he can’t just kiss me and ask me to dance and expect me to forget all about—
But he can.
Because I do.
Before I know it, I’m seated in his lap overlooking the river and we’re engaging in exactly the sort of behavior that usually makes me want to smack other couples into the river. I’m not even talking about making out—I’m talking about those long, meandering conversations where you stare into one another’s eyes and find yourself thinking “Holy shit! This might be something.”
(And I say “shit” because really, who wants to fall in love? Love screws everything up. Love makes a complete and utter mess of things and even the prospect of such an emotion taking root can reduce two perfectly sane individuals to quoting Avril Lavigne and… well, whatever it is that Date #7 is doing right now.)
So where’s the problem?
I’m tempted to say “it’s complicated,” but really, it’s not: I have a tendency to borrow trouble and the minute I find myself starting to let my guard down, all of my old insecurities come rushing back and I notice something rather terrifying about Date #7:
He’s a combination of all of my ex-boyfriends, all rolled into one.
He’s got that whole Heathcliff thing going on that I found so attractive (and ultimately destructive) in my first boyfriend—the passion, the need for solitude, the ability to sit there, not saying anything, for hours on end—but I spent the majority of my senior prom depressed for these very reasons. Do I really want another brooding, contemplative boyfriend? (Especially when I can be pretty damn brooding and contemplative myself?)
Next up is the man I dated during my senior year of college. He was older, and ready to settle down, and even though Date #7 loathes the words “settle down” almost as much as I do, I’d be lying if I said the age difference didn’t scare me a little bit. Plus there’s the issue of that which Date #7 does for a living; for the sake of his privacy, I’m not going to mention it here but it was something the boyfriend in question did as well. Yikes!
Now that I think about it, Date #7 doesn’t really have much in common with my third boyfriend. Except that he’s a bit of a spontaneous romantic, and affectionate, and tries to get me to open up and talk about things that I’m uncomfortable talking about…
…Which brings me to my most recent relationship: the boy I dated in London. He was so solid. So damn even keel. It used to drive me crazy. I did something rather… well, inappropriate towards the end of our relationship and when I told him about it, he simply accepted my apology and gave me a hug. I remember standing there in his bedroom, totally flabbergasted and trying not to shout, “You’re Italian! Aren’t you going to REACT? I mean, you seriously don’t give a shit???”
Well, from what I’ve seen of Date #7, he’s pretty much the same way: mellow, even keel and slow to anger. At least that’s my theory—I’m in no rush to test his limits. That is, if we even see each other again.
Of course, this still isn’t the complete story (and now that the “story” involves someone I genuinely respect, I’m not sure that I should ever tell everything) but for those of you wondering what’s happened since Sunday—and for those of you who encouraged me to give it time and cut Date #7 some slack—rest assured: we’ve been in touch.
Also I have gotten out of bed and have managed to stop humming Canadian pop music under my breath.