I met TidalWave in August 2011 in Greenpoint Brooklyn. This was a freebie night with inclement weather (which seems to be a running theme). On Friday I – with the rest of the 20-something Manhattan army – was deployed out to the Hamptons. We spent early Saturday on the beach under tunics, behind bug-eye sunglasses, and below wide brim hats and sh!tty books. At some point between the sea spray and a short swim, I lost a contact lens. My left eye was in perfect focus and my right eye was all cookie monster – I was drunk on skewed vision.
Usually when something goes awry, my tagline is, “It’s not the end of the world.” But actually, this was the end of the world. First, I pretended it didn’t bother me, then I started walking around with one eye closed, when my facial muscles fatigued, I went to the drug store with the idea of buying an eye patch. As a freshly minted single lady, I failed to see (pun intended) that the eye patch would dampen my aesthetic. As a part of a gaggle, I was completely blind (pun intended again, is this annoying?) to the fact that it could hurt my friends’ prospecting efforts as well. It was probably around the time that I started to compare prices on gauze and tape, that I got a gentle squeeze on the shoulder. Hun, I think it’s time to take you home. I was declared unfit for duty.
Back in NYC, I put in a fresh contact and was P.O.’d that I was home with no plans. I text blasted some likely party types and came up an invitation. There was a two-story home in Greenpoint with a massive outdoor area below sea level. They filled this courtyard with 1,000 lbs of sand and were hosting a Gatsby-esque faux Hamptons party. They were being funny ironic, but in my situation this was actually ironic. The party was incredibly well-executed with lawn chairs, croquet mallets, seersucker everything, beach torches, and costumish hats. While walking barefoot in the sand, I met TidalWave. He had adorable floppy hair, grade school enthusiasm, and an unintentional smile. We spoke exclusively for a long time until we were interrupted by Zeus throwing lightening tridents down from the clouds.
When people recant this evening, no one remembers the Gatsby theme because everyone refers to that night as Poseidon’s Adventure. Out of nowhere the sky cracked open and tepid water poured down in sheets of rain. Within minutes, the sand backed up the courtyard drains and the bottom floor of the home filled like a bowl under a faucet. TidalWave and I tripped over the crowds grabbing for shoes, belongings, and props. The tornado sirens were screaming and we were hysterical with laughter. Once inside, he asked for my number. I was floored because I’d almost forgotten that I was back on the market (I had moved out of my ex-boyfriend’s apartment less than a week earlier). I delivered the digits because, you know, baby steps.
THE FIRST DATE
This wasn’t my first rodeo, but it was my first first date in more than a year. Even though I thought it was time to get back on the horse, I was still seeing stars from my last fall. In retrospect, I was less emotionally ready than Princess Di on her wedding day. I [not so] secretly hoped my ex would call and say that we shouldn’t be going on dates with semi-strangers looking for new partnerships. But that wasn’t going to happen, so saddle up, here we go.
I was accustomed to type-A personality dating: meet me here, at this time, for this activity – circle yes or no. I wasn’t used to the collaborative approach… and TidalWave was a collaborator. There was so much back-and-forth that we even had to resort to email. He wanted my opinion on: dinner or drinks or activity, right after work or a bit later, Manhattan or Brooklyn, downtown Brooklyn or BK heights, preference amongst hyperlinked viable venues. It was giving me agita, so I called an audible: 8PM, restaurant on my corner, a drink.
The plan was now just the bare bones of a date. This wasn’t even baby steps; this was the dating equivalent of holding on to the coffee table and scooching while your mom and dad point out that you’re practically walking. I started to worry this date was too soon. I knew that this worry could precipitate panic, due to an interesting genetic card that I drew called Anxiety. My thoughts bubble and bubble over each other like a little fountain, until they spill from worry to fixation to freak out. I shook off the pessimism that this would happen. Instead, I dressed in what became my date uniform, walked to the restaurant, and pulled a big smile out of my bag o tricks. My exterior went on autopilot – I giggled when appropriate, asked interested questions, sipped my cocktail infrequently, and shared excellent anecdotes. My interior bubbled:
ohmigod why am i so dressed up for this date, and why is he so casual. does it look like i care? do i even want to be out with someone who doesn’t care? wait. what if this isn’t a date. this is definitely a date, but if it’s not i’ll just act normal and buy the next round. i am i sweating? i’m totally sweating. it’s probably because i’m dying of cancer. yes, definitely cancer. or, maybe pregnancy. god, when was the last time i had my period. i’m probably pregnant right now. in 7 months i’ll have a baby and this dude will hear through the grape vine. he’ll be like i went out with that chick. she was totally hitting the sauce with a bun in the oven. oh wait no, I had my period two weeks ago. did he just say he works on comic books? like all the time? is that a thing? what if Ex decides to come here tonight? we totally talked about this place. would he think it was too soon? oh man, it’s totally too soon. I wonder if it’s ok to leave. no it’s not. but it would be ok if some outside circumstance happened. do restaurants have fire alarms? if they do, i bet the handle would be by the bathroom. this place doesn’t have sprinklers. if there’s a fire, I’m using my chair as a shield. i hope i don’t accidentally scream out FIRE…. and on and on and on…
Eventually the tsunami of worry waned along with any expectation that “we should do this again sometime.”