Adventures in Online Dating: Chapter 15
Two hours in the coffee shop and one hour walking around downtown and one hour over a shared pitcher of ESB, and we are buzzed and walking towards the restaurant with wide smiles and easy laughs, and there are his eyes—bright dolphin blue—and his smile—absolutely endearing, at times almost boyish—and the conversation, which has been easy and unceasing since our date began at 3 p.m.
Inside, the lights are dim but the crowd is raucous, as we learn a wedding party has reserved the main dining area for a rehearsal dinner. That’s when I tell Match #1, henceforth SH, about our reservations.
“Well, they’re not in my name,” I say.
“Whose name are they in?” he asks but before I can reply, the hostess is at my side saying, “Faulkner, party of two?” and I nod my head, yes, then turn to smile at SH.
“When else do you get to respond to the name of a famous writer?” I say. “It’s from my dad. He does it all the time. Only he prefers to go by Hemingway.”
SH smiles and follows down the hallway as we are seated.
We are three hours at the fancy restaurant where the conversation never wavers, then SH and I are in my car heading down I-26 in the direction of the meditation center. It is nearly 10pm. He’s never seen a shrine room before and he’s interested, and so it seems like a right and safe way to prolong the evening.
But the visit is brief, interrupted by a tenant at the house who is eager for conversation and we are not, so we duck out and I drive him to his car, where he presents me with a bar of dark chocolate that he has brought all the way from Trader Joe’s (the BEST health food store ever and that I haven’t shopped at regularly since leaving Oregon five years ago). I smile, thank him, put the chocolate in my car, turn around after closing the door and we are arms locked, skin touching, full-on kissing, on the 4th floor of the Rankin Avenue parking garage where suddenly the bright lights fade to black when I close my eyes and there, only the sound of lips, breath, the absurdity of clothing.
There is nowhere to go and I like that because it means that if we want to keep kissing, nothing remains but to keep kissing…But my mind is a bit wired from the black tea so late in the day and I stop, pull away to say something—what, I cannot recall: One sentence? Mabye two? Something about the weather, perhaps?—and he doesn’t hesitate when he interrupts me to say, “You’re thinking too much.”
I smile. “You know, you can say that whenever you want to because 99% of the time you’re going to be right,” I say and at some point (Twenty minutes later? Forty?) there is a nagging tick in the back of my brain, something like hearing a train in the distance and waiting, waiting, waiting for it to arrive, but I close all thought to it and instead stay focused on the kissing, yes, lots of kissing, because by now who cares how many cars have driven by and I just love this PG-rated date with no pressure and all comfort…but the sound is louder now and I open my eyes to see that the woman who has parked her car next time mine is engine roaring, reverse lights blazing, r-r-r-ready to go and who is that annoying couple that didn’t even see me walk past, unlock my, door, and start the car?
The drive home easy because I sing all the way, moon roof open to the scarlet orb above and there is a message on the machine from Noelle when I walk in the door. “Hi. It’s me. Call me when you get back. I want to know EVERYTHING!”
I sleep long and hard and wake up slowly. Drink tea. Read Andre Dubus’ Dancing After Hours. Check my email.
Email. Crap. Email = eHarmoy these days, since every three hours or so there seems to be a New Match, and I’m not sure I want to plow through any more of these but wait…What’s this?
A request from OtherSideoftheMountain, Tennessee?
Yes, a New Match (#5, we’ll say) from the small town on the other side of Roan Mountain and he wants to start Guided Communication. He runs his own farm and works in PR and loves animals and wants to live a quiet, sustainable, mountain life, and [Click…click…click…] he has sent his “First Questions” to me via eHarmony. (Cue that children’s song: “The other side of the mountain, the other side of the mountain, the other side of the mountain…to see what he could see!”)
The map in my mind comes into view again, my little red light of a heart on one side of Roan, and a new, white light, sending some signal, flashing through the night on the exact opposite side of the mountain. If this land was flat, I could perhaps roll a ball down the state highway and it would wind up at his feet. We’re talking THAT CLOSE. (Closer than my parents live, closer than some of my friends, and approximately 120 minutes closer than SH…but Oh! Last night had been so fun and we talked about EVERYTHING and, and…)
I take a deep breath. I hadn’t even considered the possibilities of dating more than one person via eHarmony. Yet another thing I wasn’t prepared for just two weeks ago when these chronicles first began. I’ve never even dated more than one person at a time in my non-e life. It’s just not my style, not the way my heart works, not something I’ve ever felt capable of.
Where’s Dr. Warren when you need him? There are seriously more hazards involved in this gig than I ever could have guessed.
Next steps? Who knows.