Every so often, I encounter someone who is perfectly lovely. We meet, we enjoy our time together, we go out once, twice, maybe more. And then, for reasons that aren’t ever particularly clear or upsetting, we drift apart. Here are two such stories.
31. The Driver
I can’t remember what app we met on, but our conversation started memorably — it included a plan to start a band, then crash weddings just to perform our music, and also an offer to join him on one of his many trips to his hometown in Portugal so that I could taste Portuguese wine. He was funny, sarcastic, playful, and sweet. We met for a drink and ended up spending three hours talking. He was about my height, trim, with classic good looks, and, oh, that accent.
At the end of the first date, he looked like he wanted to kiss me, but he didn’t, and I (uncharacteristically) didn’t make a move, even though I wanted to. Instead, we settled on the European kiss (one cheek, then the other cheek — a surefire way to display my awkwardness) before walking back to our cars.
We stayed in touch and managed to coordinate a second date about a month later, this time at a driving range. We were both flirtatious, and I knew that the interest was there, but he had a pressing work matter that arose over the course of the evening. I could tell that he was frustrated that he was having to divide his attention. We grabbed dinner together at Waffle House (his first ever visit, complete with a paper hat), and as he was driving me back to my car, I asked him bluntly whether he wanted the evening to continue at his place. He thought for a moment before saying yes.
Even though the sex wasn’t bad, it also wasn’t as good as I had hoped. I hesitate to even mention this, but during the act, his face appeared to be unconsciously frozen into an unflattering expression. In other words, his sex face was really hard to look at, which left me feeling like a bit of an asshole for not making eye contact. I mean, it’s not really his fault. Sex rarely looks dignified, and in case you weren’t already convinced, here was proof of that. After just one round, he called it a night. We strolled back to my car and he kissed me goodnight. We agreed to see one another soon, but we never followed through. I don’t think of him often, but whenever I do, I don’t think of the sex face (except for now, as I’m writing about it), but I do think of the hours we spent talking about everything from race cars to broken hearts. I think of the Waffle House hat. I think of us laughing uncontrollably at the driving range. The memories are only sweet, with no bitterness to muddle them.
32. The Philosopher
Oh, what to say about The Philosopher, whose steady gaze and gentle hands and thoughtful questions caught me by surprise? I recognized pretty quickly that we were just different enough to render anything substantial out of the question, but this took the pressure off. I could rest in my authenticity and enjoy both the times we would sit and talk about culture and politics and food and our own histories, and the times when we would kiss and touch and explore each other’s bodies.
The physical part was short-lived, but we eventually adopted a new dynamic in which he would share his personal writing with me, and I would offer feedback. Some of his writing prompted a strong visceral or emotional response in me, and it evoked a time in my life when sharing my writing and reading the work of those in my small community of writers was a natural, regular thing. I missed it, hadn’t realized how much I missed it until The Philosopher unknowingly reminded me. That this blog even exists is due in large part to him. So just as it is with The Driver, I can’t possibly look back at my time with him and harbor anything but gratitude for the gift of written expression, the remembering of dusty parts of myself that needed to be shaken out, exercised, and encouraged.