The thing about writing and sharing your life publicly is that it invites people to have opinions about your thoughts and actions on a larger scale then when your friends tell you you’re being an idiot in a one-on-one conversation. That’s fine, and expected; I write for a living. I get a lot of bad opinions about my bad opinions. But what some people have been saying has made me really consider the image I’m projecting.
I ran into a guy I know on the train who I haven’t seen in probably a decade, who said, “I hope things get better.”
Someone else at a party said, “I hope you find love.”
Did I say I wanted to find love? Sort of. Why else would I be going on all these dates. But you can go on a million dates and not meet the “right” person. I’m only going on 24. The odds of finding love seem slim, but I should at least be looking for someone who I like enough to stop going on so many first dates with other people. I guess.
It is true that after you go on a second date, and then a third with the same person, you’re asking for them to invest more time in you than a blog entry’s worth of anecdotes. It sort of implies you’re in it for more, but I can’t honestly say that’s the case.
I was thinking about all this as I met my date, the third date with this date. I arrived at the museum extremely tired, extremely hungry, and extremely hot. My energy and sense of hopefulness were depleted, and with them went the ability to make pleasant conversation with someone who is still a virtual stranger. A lovely, friendly stranger who it becomes more and more comfortable to be around, but I was struggling.
There are levels to dating. You may eventually become comfortable and even master the first date: the idle chit chat, the quick assessment of compatibility, your level of attraction, your ability to extricate yourself from the situation if need be. But that proficiency won’t take you through the next level, which involves answering the question, “What do you want from each other?” especially when the answer isn’t just, “Sex, duh, take your pants off.”
We went to get some food and my will to live revived with two fish tacos. It was actually a restaurant I used to work in, except it was no longer that restaurant, just the same space refurbished with cheap fittings and a really loud sound system. I’d been fired from that job, so it was sort of my triumphant return. I had outlived the place that didn’t want me! Tacos for everyone!
With the noise, we struggled a bit to make conversation, though my date valiantly asked me a series of questions. She loves to ask questions and seems to listen with care to the answers. I don’t know what she’s gathering this info for, because she seems to make no judgements about anything I say, at least externally. I suggest we go somewhere else to grab a drink and she readily agrees, but when the check arrives, I just can’t.
I know if we go to the bar, somewhere quiet and dark and drink a glass of wine, we will talk about where this is going, but I don’t know where I’m going and unwinding all these twisting paths seems impossible. Different people demand different degrees of navigation, and this person deserves someone confident at the helm. Also, I really felt like shit.
I start to say I may be too tired and she immediately says I should go home. I walk her to the train and she says if I want to hang out again I should let her know. That ‘if’ kills me, because I do, and how I’m feeling really has nothing to do with her and the thought that she maybe thinks it does is horrible. And that’s something that can be so hard to learn—often, what feels personal in dating has nothing to do with you. Nothing. Everyone’s on their own road, and it can be so easy to veer in an unexpected direction.