Last weekend, I was at the ocean. I’m not a particularly strong swimmer, but with age comes wisdom. You learn not to go out when it’s too rough, when to hold back, when to dive under. In this way, you protect yourself from the breakers the less experienced get swept up in. Maybe I was feeling giddy, maybe I was feeling arrogant, but for the first time in years I miscalculated. A wave grabbed and dragged my ass.
Water filled my nose and mouth. There was no way to stand up or fight it. The only thing to do was let go of all attempts at control and go wherever the sea wanted to take me. It mostly seemed to want to scrape my back across a bunch of broken shells. Eventually, I crawled out of the foam on my hands and knees, as ungainly as a prehistoric walking-fish making its first foray onto land. For the next two days I shed sand from the strangest places.
While choosing dates on apps I have a fairly low bar for someone to cross before asking them to meet me. Not nearly as many people cross it as you’d think. They have to be someone I find reasonably attractive in photos. They have to not say anything insane within the first few lines of our conversation. They have to be willing to meet me, like, now. I’ve gotten cavalier about it, at this point. This date got over my hurdles, but I really didn’t absorb much information about him that led me to have any particular expectations and I arrived not giving two fucks about how the night would go.
Imagine my surprise to immediately find him super hot.
Going out with people a second and third time has helped me to develop a real physical attraction to a few of my dates who I had initially thought were objectively good looking, in an almost clinical way. Many more dates have been a disappointment, and I’m sure I’ve also disappointed a few. A photo says a lot, but it can misrepresent you. It doesn’t account for whatever that certain something is that makes your body clench when you see someone for the first time.
I didn’t realize what a relief it would be to feel immediately evident mutual attraction. Perhaps there’s no way of knowing whether or not my date felt the same, but when we set eyes on each other as I walked in, we both smiled the same smile. Yes. Good.
It was a short date. I had plans, plans I wanted to follow through on, but in the hour or so we sat at the bar chatting about this and that while leaning closer and closer, I felt like I was illuminated from the inside by horniness. What a lovely feeling it is to be into someone right away— the playfulness, the confidence, the simmering expectations. It’s heady. So were the two tequila-based cocktails I ordered, against the bartender’s recommendation.
“I just think the polomos are badly balanced,” she said, looking more sour than the mentioned drink. I like sour cocktails, so I ordered two, though it was hard to get her to make eye contact to order the second.
I told my date I had to go. I thought I was sure he was interested, but who can ever be sure until someone says something? I hugged him goodbye outside the bar and he just kissed me. His mouth landed on my mouth, then glanced off my cheek. I laughed, and asked if I could kiss him again. He said yes. We did.
But there aren’t really any guarantees. Later that week, he cancelled plans to meet, saying he didn’t feel well. Then I went to the beach.
Wanting to make out with someone isn’t love, or even liking, but what is any of this for (the blog, the dates, the quest for romance) if I can’t accept that sometimes I may be surprised? By good stuff, sometimes, even though I’m trying to plan ahead to avoid the bad. I’d love to be pleasantly surprised by a few more dates, even if it means risking the battering force of disappointment.
It’s been six years since I was in love, and the experience was so deranged, so burningly bad, it seems absurd that I would ever be caught up in the feeling ever again. Don’t I know all the signs? Don’t I know what to avoid? Older, wiser, safer. It’s just that as soon as you get complacent, you’re in danger. When love catches you, it drags you.