My last boyfriend and I split up during the holidays of 2010. This past holiday season – and I’m not the only one who felt this – didn’t feel like the holidays at all. I bought 3 gifts for my 3 best girlfriends. No boyfriend, no gifts for family, not even for my dog.
I rode my bicycle after a party in the freezing air on Christmas early morning across the Brooklyn Bridge. There were a handful of pedestrians on the bridge at 3 a.m. and no other bicycles. No tourists! I stopped and took pictures of I-don’t-even-remember, but I do remember feeling happy. I’m single, 40, and happy.
A week later, similar circumstance. New Year’s early morning, just before 3. Several more walkers – or should I say, stumblers – and no other bicycles. One thing was different. I had met someone.
Actually, we met the Friday before Christmas at a party in the home of a warmly hospitable host. Only two degrees of separation. He and I talked about exploring areas of the city, namely Brooklyn, my home. I wasn’t even interested in him during that conversation. But he wanted me to show him Brooklyn, so I decided I would introduce him to my friends’ restaurant. How could I not bring them new business?
I forgot about him by the next day, Christmas Eve.
A few days later, he texted. Darn it, what was his name? Mike? He lol’ed and corrected me in jest. All I could remember was his perfectly formed hair, flawless skin, and clean manicure. Totally not my type. Not for a girl with grease under her fingernails, a six-month old haircut, and unkempt cuticles, not to mention skin blemishes. Still, business for my friends.
When our “date” was about to begin, I hadn’t changed my clothes from work. In fact, I got off my bicycle after a 5-mile commute, and greeted him with a “Hey”. My makeup had not been touched up. My hair was windblown. My clothes were damp with sweat. He looked like he just stepped out of a limo at a Newport, RI mansion. What did he see in me?
First, a drink at a local hangout. Superfine is run by the coolest women who keep the 20th century alive with weekend DJs, bluegrass bands, and occasional burlesque extravaganzas. The food is locally-sourced, except for the California citrus and Hatch, New Mexico green chilies. I ordered a margarita. Better to bear with this man wearing cashmere and an oxford shirt. Certainly is not the guitar slinger nor the geek I usually date.
The drink was followed by dinner at my friends’ place, AlMar, at the bar. Surprisingly, he was okay with sitting at the bar. Personally, it’s a preference when the only seating options are across from each other. Why, when the food is to be savored and enjoyed, should one be distracted by a dining partner’s presence when familiarity and comfort is at a minimum? How self-conscious can a person get with a new date at dinner? No wonder so many people prefer just drinks for a first date. But this wasn’t a date with a prospect in my eyes. Dinner was devoured.
The third place we went to, Jack the Horse Tavern, in my opinion has the best traditionally-mixed cocktails in Brooklyn. By this point, after he disdainfully refused my inquisitive financial contribution, it was with pleasure to bring him here. Not because he was paying, but because showing him great places was the least I could do to as a courtesy.
Fortunately, on this last Thursday of 2011, he surprised me once again.
Granted, by this time we each had had a cocktail and a half bottle of wine. In spite of the reduced judgment ability, his conversation locked my attention to the point where words flowed from my mouth without the need to edit. I can’t remember the last time I sat with someone with this conversation ease. We talked about our post-9-11 experiences, our families’ highlights (or dysfunctions), travel destinations, and things our fanciful drinks reminded us of. The more we talked, the easier it became to see our similarities and reconcile our differences.
He walked me home. I didn’t need to be drunk to kiss him.
The next day he sent a text. “Last night exceeded my expectations.” Expectations? What are those? I tried not to think about a possible future with this atypical date. It’s pretty easy to do that when you can think of all the reasons why it would not work out.
Early New Year’s morning I rode my bike with hope. The memory of this man would not go away. If anything, he gave me a glimpse into a different life. Fifteen hours later, I answered the phone to, “When should I pick you up?”
To Be Continued.