Sometimes everything just feels wrong. He shows up looking like he’s come straight from the gym, though you know he hasn’t. With his long, baggy shorts, tank top and bandana around his head, you wonder why you made the effort to get out of your similar-looking pjs to take a shower and pick out an outfit to try to look cute for him.
You ask him about the big project in his life, the one that you found so fascinating and made you especially eager to get to know him in the first place, and he informs you that it’s on indefinite hiatus. Instead, he talks about his ex-wife, her lack of intelligence and poor mothering skills. He’s watching the clock as he tells you about his three daughters.
After reading a text message that comes in, he tells you about his truck that broke down in front of a friend’s and is going to be towed away if he can’t sell it on Craigslist. He doesn’t bother to ask much about you, and you don’t bother to reveal a lot about yourself because it’s obvious he wouldn’t really be listening.
The meal is done. Check please. He pays the bill. You leave the tip. There’s no, “I’ll call you later” or “Let’s get together again.” This is perfectly fine with you.
Sometimes everything just feels right. The moment you see each other for the evening, he flashes a smile that knocks you a little off your center. It’s been a while since someone’s had that effect on you. He looks comfortable in his jeans and dress shirt even while you know he’s made some effort to look nice. The heels you traded the flip-flops for were totally worth it.
At dinner, he asks you to select two of the four choices for tapas. He won’t let you get away with, “I’ll eat anything – you choose.” You find yourself thinking there’s just something too darn cute about how he puts on his reading glasses to look at the menu.
Even when the servers and waiters come, you and he are talking away about your respective lives up until now – discussing relationships, religion, politics and anything else that springs to mind. There are no awkward pauses, and in fact, the only silences are when you are in the midst of chewing.
After a stop for dessert, you decide to take a stroll with no destination, except to find a comfortable bench on which you can sit. Every now and then, your bodies brush against one another. After a while, you can’t tell if it’s by accident or on purpose, until the touch on the arm becomes more pronounced and lingers.
You find a rocking bench. You talk about your dreams and goals. You talk about where you came from, going beyond the surface and shedding light on some of the darker shadows of the family portrait. You head to a bookstore where you confirm you have even more in common in literary tastes (Wow, someone else who actually reads!!), but most of all, he starts sharing jokes that make you laugh from the belly.
On the way back to the car, you are suddenly holding hands. “Is this okay?” he asks. Yes, yes, yes,
You ride home listening to jazz and holding hands. You share sweet kisses and words in the car before realizing sleep has to come sometime, and he has more than an hour drive to get back to his home.
When you walk through the door, your best friend asks, “How was it?”
“It was wonderful,” you giddily sigh, wanting to hold this happiness close to you, capture in a jar like fireflies so it can light your room up every time the world is looking dark and a little hopeless.
But the best part is knowing that you can feel this way again before too long.