Okay, getting back to last Sunday’s date. I do not throw up. Nor do I retreat. I keep putting one foot in front of the other, ignoring the throngs of people crowding the perimeter of the park and telling myself, “I used to be good at this. I used to be GREAT at this. How hard can it be?”
And there he is: smiling, on time and wearing a striped dress shirt.
He appears, for all intents and purposes, to be normal. Two arms, two legs, ten fingers and presumably ten toes (although I can’t tell this for sure because he’s wearing dress shoes). He’s been reading my blog and he’s warned me—for the sake of my ongoing ethnographic inquiries— that he’s going to give me a hug hello (and teases that I can make of that what I will, anthropologically speaking). Secretly, I’m glad of this because it saves me the trouble of wondering if I should hug him, kiss him or shake his hand. (And let’s be honest: if he’d left me to my own devices, I’d have probably spent a good half an hour debating the proper course of action.)
He’s incredibly animated—so animated, in fact, that we start talking right away and don’t stop until 2 hours later until he finally offers to walk me to my car so I can get to rehearsal in time.
We talk about books, about Europe, about music, about teaching, about our parents, about the fact that we’d both intended to go for PhDs but didn’t, and even though you’re not supposed to talk about such things on a first date, we eventually find ourselves on the subject of past relationships.
“So I saw something on your blog,” he drops in casually. “Something about a four year anniversary?”
“Four years?” I wrack my brain. Four years? I’d have been in London, or maybe just arriving back in Philadelphia. But relationship-wise there wasn’t much going on.
Then it hits me. He’s referring to my four months post.
“It wasn’t four years,” I confess. “It was four months.”
“Oh! So it was recent!”
I take a deep breath and attempt to give him the reader’s digest version. I’m feeling fairly proud of myself (no tears!) but a few minutes later he walks me to my car, gives me a hug, tells me it was “great” to meet me and says he’d like to “hang out” again.
But that’s it.
I feel gutted.
I’m not sure what I was expecting—certainly not a wild make out session in the middle of day—but it feels bit lackluster. In fact, I’m not even sure what to make of his goodbye.
Was it actually great to meet me? Would he really like to “hang out” again or is he just being polite? And what the hell does “hang out” even mean? We’re not in college. Are we talking dinner or another coffee in the park? Not that I would mind another coffee but does he even like me? Do I even like him? I thought so but now I don’t know. All I know is that I feel like a failure, and it’s a shame because I’d been having a lovely time up until then.
The parking attendant lectures me for having accidentally left my ticket in the car, and then I find myself trapped between not one but two different street festivals on my way out of the city. My fabulous mood quickly turns foul and I make it to rehearsal with about 90 seconds to spare.
90 seconds, however, is just long enough to check your phone.
And there it is: a text from the man himself. The first of about one hundred we’ve exchanged since then. (And no, for once, I’m not exaggerating. Thank God for unlimited texting.)