So I joined OKCupid. Created a profile. Uploaded pictures. Answered questions. Despite the tedium, strived to portray an honest and accurate sense of who, and even more important, where I am – recently separated (divorce wouldn’t come until later in the year), kids, interested in meeting new friends, and go from there. Writing a self summary – what an exercise. (Who am I?! I’m a bloody mess!) But a fruitful exercise. Transcend the current state. Take inventory. Put on display. The club is open.
I looked at pictures. I read profiles. Always reading profiles. I sent messages. Responses started to come in.
I had been exchanging messages with 1 for a day or so. It was late afternoon on a Friday and I was closing out work. ‘Let’s meet for happy hour’, I suggested. ‘Ok!’. And away I went – first ‘date’ in nearly two decades. She was new to Austin, an aspiring artist with a day job. Well written profile. Good pictures. She appeared bright, cute, creative, sexy, fun. We had easy flirty banter via messaging on the site – positive signs.
We met on the Eastside – she was getting a ride from her place with a friend. I had met a friend beforehand, and had a whiskey prior to the date. (This was fairly common for me around this time – the whiskey evened everything out – I was a bit of a mess. Functional, yet fractured.) I arrived a bit before she did. Not really that nervous, rather excited with a feeling of openness and calm, buoyed by the whiskey and the unknown adventure, or misadventure, that lay ahead.
She arrived and I was immediately presented with a likely common situation in online dating. She did not look like her photos. It wasn’t a huge deal, but an expectation had been set. And not met. (Body type descriptors are tricky. Open to interpretation, especially in the middle ground, in between ‘skinny’ and ‘overweight’.) I’m sure I’ve fell short of expectations set as well. In any case, I had to make a decision. I decided ‘Make the best of it and have fun’. Not a stretch for me, as I would find, or rediscover, that I’m a bit of an optimist, and can make good in just about any situation. This would come in very useful in the coming months!
A smile, a hello, a hug, a drink order, and then outside to the patio, where thunderclouds where gathering and a cool breeze began to pick up. The chit-chat came at a good clip – flowed easily, no weird silences – hey, this is great! The clouds darkened, and within minutes, that Texas rain started to come down. Biblical style. We huddled on a bench outside in a dry spot. Chatting and laughing, watching the rain, and drinking vodkas. She was younger, open, and being new to town, got a sense she was optimistic and starting over and figuring things out. Just like the rest of us. Two or three hours whizzed by, and we went for food.
I offered to give her a ride home. She asked me inside. A few more drinks. More talk. We made out – making out rules (first make out sesh with someone new in decades!). Then, at some point, she had an anxiety attack or panic attack or something. We’d been through many drinks by this point, and I was at a bit of a loss, concerned, and bemused – is this really happening? Does this shit happen? Like, in the world? She pulled something out of a cupboard and took it. It’s a thing for her apparently. Not long after she got it back together. I was in no state to drive. I was on the couch or….More making out. She showed me her bedroom.
I got home at about 10 the next morning after a few hours sleep. At the time I was living with a friend. He would later tell me I looked ‘dirty’ when I came through the door, bleary-eyed and in the same clothes. Yep, I felt dirty. A good amount of guilt – wait, I hadn’t cheated, it was over! – but also a sense of…a step towards ‘moving on’ – but then also sadness and more realization that ‘it was over’. Mix all that with that it was actually pretty fun and I had a good time. Swirl. Confusion. Shame. I picked up the kids and got on with my day.
The next day I sent her a note via the site, carrying on a conversation from the night before as a way to say hello, and goodbye. I wasn’t planning on asking her out again. Real sweet, and we had fun, but I was in no state to ‘date’ someone, although I had no idea at the time.
The first date in forever was done and dusted. It had gone pretty well, I guess. I had no expectation that it would, and definitely had no expectation that they would all go as well. And I was right.