Ok. So, things are going well.
This is the thought I’m having tonight. This is going well. Only a few slightly awkward interactions crept into the evening thus far, so I’d say…winning. For instance, it begins with me contemplating whether to go in for the hug, a kiss on the cheek, or a peck on the lips. Being the fourth date, it is appropriately confusing. So what happens? Naturally, I do some combination of the three aforementioned options, and I end up, kind of, sort of kissing him on (in?) the ear. I KNOW that shit was loud. Right. In. His. Ear.
I will myself to relax as we wait for the Uber because, well, he is handsome and charming and…but, I can’t deter from obsessing about the looming elephant that crowds the crevices of my brain matter. Is tonight THE night? Did I shave all the things? Will I feel comfortable? Does my stomach look flat? Will he end up thinking I am strange? Is his…? All I know is that I am into him and I’ll admit, that scares me. He’s hilarious and not too nice and can also hold a serious conversation. He is considerate and well…he gets me so far, quirks and all.
Petrified, I tell you. Because…is this him? Is this me?
We get in the Uber and head to a spot that’s hopefully not claustrophobic, but not empty–where the music is neither at the volume beyond what eardrums can handle, nor lulls us with catatonic elevator music. Or, for example, if I can’t see his face next to me because of the ambiance, then I should probably just find a corner to nap in. It’s all about balance.
Jessie’s Girl is playing on the radio, as I register the slightly odd and unidentifiable odor that is wafting from the front seat, some mix of cheap cologne and disco fries, perhaps. The Uber driver is bopping and jiving, almost as a challenge for one of us to join him. People LOVE this song. Love it. They get amped up to the point of delirium, a speaking in tongues, out of body experience kind of state. I never quite understood the appeal of this little diddy. Sure, it’s catchy, but does it require all of this? I look across the backseat, give him a little smirk, and envision myself doing an impressive and witty little dance. I end up, however, doing some wildly uncoordinated hand movement that more closely resembles a duck flapping its wings. Awkward.
At the bar, I only dribble beer on myself a mere two times, and I am feeling overall confident about all the things. I dig my outfit. I am definitely feeling the comfortable banter and sarcastic interactions, and it feels amazing to laugh so sincerely. The closeness of him is utterly alluring. Fuck…I like him. I like him. Again, it dawns on me that I may need to make all the decisions tonight.
And then it happens.
You know the moment when your eyes catch and you both just know…clothes may be found in obscure places the next day, hair may be grabbed, and making out will inevitably be intense.
Getting the bartender’s attention seems near impossible–a painstakingly slow process. I try to wave around, similar to the spastic duck dance, but his look is vacant and we are neglected, like a bed of lettuce scattered under the main course. Finally, though, we are out the door in a blur of kissing and car doors and keys clanking on concrete. And then, there we are in his apartment. I mean, we are in his apartment. I look up and peek under my eyelashes with a purposeful look of longing and vulnerability, a bit unsure of how to stand and where to put my hands.
As I ponder whether or not I should breezily saunter to the couch (trying not to stumble to my demise) or if I should walk over and grab his face, I can’t help but think that choosing sizes of things is such an integral part of life. Big. Little. Medium. Venti. Tiny. Huge. Bite-sized. Massive. Even tonight, there were multiple times I had to make decisions about a drink or an appetizer, or the height of the heel of my shoe. Even the size of the Uber was a decision. Think about it…a 6 or 12-inch baguette? What size pet is a good sized pet? How much gas should I get? Why wouldn’t I just fill the tank? I will endlessly need gas in my car. All the days.
We make thousands of decisions daily, and selecting the size of things is a constant need, gnawing and begging for attention. And then I think, what about the things I have no control over, like the size of my family or how tall I was genetically coded to be? And how much does it all matter? All the stuff that surrounds me all the time is overwhelming. I try to locate and focus on what actually matters, but all the stuff is constantly lurking. But really, sizes…do I get the 6 or 8 oz. filet? Is the third bedroom really worth the extra rent? If I get the large beer, will I end up drinking more or less? If I upgrade my gym membership will I attain the 6-pack abs I’ve always dreamed of? Or…damn. I drank the large coffee, and now I’m unsure if I want to run around the block or call all the exes and tell them all the things I should have said.
I feel his hand graze my thigh, subduing me away from my thoughts, and it shocks me into focusing only on his eyes. Indiscriminate 90s rap plays in the background, and I smile and shake my shoulders just a bit. I can’t help but notice the feel of him next to me–it is comforting and tense and it makes me feel young. The anticipation is everything; all the feelings, curiosity, and joy, and it helps make all the hard parts of life worth it. Stop and think about the last time you were about to kiss someone (really think), where the kiss was important, where you needed to kiss them like you truly meant it.
And, I realize, amidst all of the awkward in life, moments can actually be simple. There are experiences where time isn’t a burden, but a pleasant repose. In this case, I’m not sure how many seconds it took, but there is suddenly a blaze of movements and we close the space between us with fierce urgency. I notice the way his hands wildly touch every part of me and, for once, all the thoughts are suspended above me, giving me permission to breathe this in. Maybe it isn’t always necessary to have all the thoughts–maybe words can’t always capture the moment as it really is, and I just need to feel. Maybe that is ok.
Until…all the thoughts return. Is he feeling as comfortable as me? Does he think I am a good kisser? Is his…? What does he like? Is my breath ok? What if his…? Do we stay on the couch? Should I just go home? Maybe his…? And just when all the thoughts almost smothered the comfort deep into the couch cushions, he pulls away, separates from me and smiles. He genuinely smiles, stands up, grabs my hand, and leads me right back into ease…and across his apartment. And. It. Is. Glorious.
I try to think about what really matters among all of this human interaction. All of us are drowned in expectations, judgments, and insecurities, whether external or self-inflicted. But what really matters? Does size matter? Is all the stuff that surrounds us supposed to bring us happiness, whether it be a home or a phone or all the clothes we can lodge in our closet?
I like to think that maybe it’s the intangible things that drive our happiness and help us laugh at the awkward moments. Maybe I am naive, but people connecting–truly connecting and enjoying each other–is what really matters. Sometimes the compatibility of two people makes sense, but often times it does not. What I am trying to say is that I need someone to be real, kind, considerate, and who accepts me for what I am, the awkwardness included. Because after all, these are the things that make me, me.
As for this date and what is going to happen next? Who can ever predict all of that? I think my plan is to try and relax and just live–I like him. I like him and that is good.
Concept + Artwork By: Erica Lescota – @phoenix_designs37
Concept Development + Text By: Lanaya Alexander – @writing.for.the.calm
Special Thanks: Robin Sherr, Hunter Pipala, Sarah Felix, + Nakeysha Washington
Note: This is a work of fiction. Any references to real events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, events, and places are results of the artist and author’s imagination. Anything that resembles actual places, people, or events is entirely coincidental.