I still remember the first day we met—when you popped on my Hinge account and I saw your light green eyes and that infectious grin staring back at me. I remember the words you wrote and the way I took days to decide whether or not to match with you. It sounds silly now, but I remember thinking, “This person could be someone,” like I knew deep down that you would shake my world up a little. That thought terrified me. I had already been broken enough—was I ready to give myself over to someone again? Could I handle it? Something told me I should at least try, that maybe you could be worth the risk.
It didn’t take long for you to quiet that voice that kept shouting at me that I was not cut out for the world of modern dating—not now, not after what came before. It didn’t take long for you to make me want to lower my guard, even just a fraction. We spoke every day, learning everything we could possibly could about each other. You were compelled by my creativity and I was hooked on the way no conversation with you ever felt boring. You seemed to care about my life and my day, even the way I slept, more than any of my other matches. You made me feel like a person with real feelings and ambitions, rather than just a photo on an app. You even waited two months for a date, and in that time, we learned as much as we could about each other. You began to follow me into my dreams and leave me waking up the next day craving you. I lost time imagining how you smelled, what your lips tasted like, how your body would feel wrapped around me. It was the most intoxicating thing I had ever known.
Even now, when my mind wanders, it ends up back on that night of our first date. If I allow myself, I think of the way you looked at me when your eyes first fixed on my face, almost as if you couldn’t quite believe I was real, and it made me feel alive. I think of the electricity that flickered between us when you touched my leg and the way you would hold my gaze when I was speaking about something that made the fire in my belly crackle. You had this way of making me feel as if everyone else in that dimly lit bar just faded out into nothing, like it was just me and you and the space between us. You walked me to the tube station and pulled me into you, your hands at my waist, my fingertips curled around your collar. And everything else slipped away—the hollow sound of wind whipping through tunnels, the screeching of tubes on rail tracks, the people huddled together beneath the city, wanting to forget about everything just for the night. And I was forgetting, with your lips so certain against mine; I was forgetting about everything apart from every place on my body that met yours.
Time did not exist for us that night. We chased our way around the city, hopping on and off tubes, finding anywhere where we could just be together, tangled around each other, talking excitedly about our dreams and our childhoods, those things that sparked something in us. It felt like I had known you years, and I was so afraid of the sun appearing and taking the moment from us. I didn’t want to wake up. The sunrise on anything that feels magical in the dark is a scary thing; it loses something, doesn’t it? When the white wine wears off and the feel of your touch disappears from my skin, when the endless possibilities slip away into the monotonous routine of moments spent beneath a cloudy London sky, nothing really feels the same. The world is louder somehow.
But in all those moments, the loud ones, I let myself retreat back there. To your tiny city apartment and my head on your chest as the sunlight creeps up your face. Tou don’t know I’m watching you and asking myself a million questions about my ability to remain in anything casual and uncertain. I’m thinking about all the ways you don’t know me yet and what will happen if you do. It’s a long time before you’ll be awake, and I’m thinking about every single moment that happens next. I don’t know how to exist in moments like these, where my mind doesn’t get to figure out the ending before it happens. I let myself sit on your sofa again, wearing nothing but your t-shirt as you hand me coffee and kiss my lips as if it’s the most natural thing in the world, and I’m trying not to read into it. I’m trying not to work out what’s on your mind, but that’s a difficult thing for me to do, and you don’t even know that yet.
Sometimes, I let these moments merge, the small ones, the ones where you’re lighting candles in your apartment and pouring champagne into wine glasses and asking me questions like you really want to discover me. I scoop them all up, collect them together in my mind, and I think about the way some dates, some people, some moments in our lives exist to be escaped to. And that’s where I am, most days, retreating back there and asking myself if I will ever be someone who can exist in moments where I don’t get to figure out the ending.
Just like the night we first met.