Do you know that feeling when everything seems to be going perfectly? Those times that you feel at peace with where you are? Whether your life is moving along smoothly or in utter disarray—you forget about it. The feeling balances all imperfections and diminishes any worries. It doesn’t matter for how long the feeling lasted; it is the fact that that feeling existed. You look across the table and you see him looking back at you; forcing you to forget the negatives and beam with positives. I’m talking about that feeling.
In those moments time moves so quickly, but the memory is in slow motion; the memory of his hands running through his hair as he shyly smirks at you. It happened quicker than a sip of beer but you remember it like it lasted all afternoon. If someone asked for you to explain yourself, you would come up empty. Why? It was less about what was said and more how you felt. Your smile appeared naturally and faded away like passing tides. His laugh was earned and his attention felt like an award.
Do you know that feeling I’m talking about? I had been looking for that feeling for the last few years. My friends have had it. Oh, the hours I have spent listening to them gush about the perfect date, or how the simple dates were the more memorable ones. We have all heard those stories, either from a friend or told to us from a screen. My friends tried to explain it and as much as I giggled along with them, I knew I didn’t understand. Nonetheless, I adore listening to people tell me those stories because I can see that feeling in their eyes. The warmth is spread to me, but when the story is done, I don’t have the memories—instead I am left cold and wanting all over again.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had attention from men across a range of ages, I’m not a troll or anything—but it has rarely meant anything to me. I’ve gone on dates, I’ve met his friends, and I’ve spent many nights, and many mornings in different apartments. But none of this attention shut down my brain… that’s at least what my friends told me would happen. A special curse of mine is meeting someone that is leaving the country the next week. So maybe the timing just hasn’t been right. Regardless, I have lacked a feeling I have heard about for a good portion of my 22 years. When would it happen?
After years finishing a chapter of my life, I moved across the country. I started a new job and I was looking to the future. Then one afternoon it happened. The feeling swallowed me whole. I couldn’t breathe that day without being swept up again.
It happened as a predetermined meeting with someone I met online. I know the mere idea of meeting someone from an online app seems like a lost cause. I didn’t think it would be anything special. It was just something to do in a new town. Nonetheless I went, and met him and his friends. The moment I saw him my heart skipped a beat. He was already more than I was expecting. The two of us went for drinks, and I had only hoped he would order a second. He did. He ordered a third, and then I did. I ordered a fourth, and then he did. I asked him questions that turned into conversations. He smiled more. He became less stiff and I became more confident. Our families were similar, our beliefs were in-line and our hobbies overlapped. Our passions were consistent and our love of sports, television and movies seemed too similar. There wasn’t anything that stopped our conversation other than a waiter asking, “one more?” But he would only nod to not break the conversation.
Over those beers, we had real arguments, we had fake fights and we shared our pasts. We talked about our demons. Those demons weren’t only accepted; they were the same between us. For our first meeting, we talked like we were old friends. There was humor, wit, flirting and a lot of easy conversation.
After relocating to another bar we stayed for hours more. Continued stories and laughter. Multiples times the bartender looked to ask a question and turned away, unwilling to interrupt. We left the second bar eight hours after we entered the first bar.
Back at his place we streamed a movie while chatting and joking through the entire film. At that point we had inside jokes and running jokes. He kept me awake by snapping. I caught him looking at me and enjoying my own enjoyment. After the movie we talked for hours more. Making it a 13-hour date, longer than I have ever talked to someone before. I like my space, I want my own time but with him I felt that time alone would be wasted time. Yes it was the first time I had met him, but the stories of people falling in love on the first date are so common I could repeat them as my own.
The whole day was easy. It was new but familiar, exciting yet calming and I longed for more.
The next morning, I spent a short time with him and his roommates and then excused myself to not linger and intrude. On the way home, I called my girlfriends from college and gushed about the longest, most entertaining and loveliest date of my life. I became the friend sharing the feeling you couldn’t explain; however, like all women before me, I tried explaining it anyway. It was amazing being the one telling the stories. I was in control. I was FINALLY the happy one.
After texting him that day, there was nothing. His quick responses and interested texting disappeared. He was gone. I tried texting him a few follow-ups from our conversation the day before, without a response. However, he was still online, probably aligning more dates. So after an incredible 13-hour date, he had vanished. As someone who doesn’t fall easily I could understand a bad 2-hour dinner date and never calling again. However over that amount of time — what happened?
I’ll tell you what happened. I got angry. I lashed out. I bitched to my friends, the same ones I called screaming with happiness a day before. I became the person I hated listening too, the annoying girl who gets too angry to think straight. And after multiple days and no contact from him my anger faded and instead I became upset. I pride myself on being personable, relatable and having the ability to read people. There wasn’t any time in the night that I sensed he wanted to leave—I was the one that needed to get out of a bar after that long. I was the one that went to bed when he continued to ask me questions. There was little to make me question what I was saying or how I was saying it—I was instantly comfortable and I thought he was too. Over the next few days of mulling over the date and replaying everything in my mind, I decided to let myself be upset. I didn’t want to linger anymore on him but focus on what really upset me—the loss of the feeling.
The main problem coming away from this date was my expectations. Not at the beginning of the date, but during. Each time he talked about his friends, I pictured hanging out with them. When he talked about people I wanted to meet, I believed him when he told me he would introduce them to me. When we talked about movies we wanted to see, I imagined us attending them together. He spoke in the future and I filled in the details. I had the feeling of ease and happiness. The time we had—as short as it was—was perfect. Across those moments and looking back I realize: those times with him reflected my needs and my wants simultaneously, they told me where I was at the same time as telling me where I was going. I became swept up in that feeling, one that needed to be there in the morning. I had longed for it and once I had found it, I wasn’t going to let it go. However, he was able to and he did. I never found out why, but apparently he decided there wasn’t a feeling.
As much as I needed the feeling with him to last, it proved to me that it is out there. My friends spoke of real instances. I know I can now join the conversation, and that most importantly, the feeling can exist independently of him. His smile might have been what I needed, but it had a lifespan. There was a deadline that I didn’t want to meet.
For now, I yearn for that feeling again. I know it won’t happen tomorrow but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen soon. There is a chance it will happen again, and that time I hope the man sitting across the table from me, has the feeling too.