It was a sudden explosion, Chloë’s entrance into my life. The instant rush of compatibility, the tense joy of eagerly feeling out each other’s weakness. Bliss. Or willful ignorance, it was too good to tell. The best first date, ever. Drinks, dancing to the best hip hop ballads of the late 90s. She knew how to play the game, refusing to let me take her home, instead countering with following me to spicy Korean food at 2 am. Through the stomach, or so they say.
Date two, the butterflies in full effect, a long week of flirtatious texts and romantic daring. This was a rare state, my brain reacting with unprocessed speed, and we found ourselves, through the help of a great friend, on a real adult evening in the City. Thursday night, the dim glow of a vaulted ceiling too new to be antique, the subtle tones of the blues emanating from an amateur Jazz band. We dined and drank like a royal pairing, the Park Hyatt playing second fiddle to my brain, the bartenders ebbing with the flow like seasoned wingman. Chloe was impressed. I’m a kid from #HUMBLE beginnings, this part of midtown invisible on my map. The stare was magnetic, the silence of pure love, four hours of dining compressed into a singular moment of amazement. We were happy.
“I’m back in town a few days early, but I’m too tired to come to Brooklyn, come to me instead?” Like a dog after a bone, I practically sprinted out of the house. Worried, was this round three of romance? Not much could beat the first two dates, this nervousness was much more real. It turned into a total cheese fest, both of us gushing at how great we felt about each other and the optimism of long term companionship. The most sobering date, perhaps my favorite kind.
Fast forward two weeks. She wanted to come to Brooklyn. Friday Night. You already know. The rush was in full effect, slobbering like teenagers, still too classy for Bushwick, the sun set over both of us that night. Too many times, this moment always feels like a surreal conquest, a false flag “mission accomplished”, but thankfully it was different. If this wasn’t a sign of love, I didn’t know what it was.
For sure, the thrill had resided a bit, the texts sporadic. The visit to the Guggenheim was now pizza at John’s. I left the subway into sweltering, dry, heat and from our first touch, I could tell something was different. The glowing eyes now eerily looking for a distraction, her excitement faint, I was no longer a prized possession. The very silence I praised now was a sign of dark times fast approaching. We meandered, too hot to touch, two people on an unconnected path. Washington Square Park. How many hearts have been broken here? How many band aids ripped off torn knees? Sober, disgusting, nauseating heat, I was a naive teenager again. I suppose her reasons were made in a respectful jest, no reasons could be good enough. She knew that.
This was the first time, at the ripe age of 26, that a serious romantic interest had told me they no longer wanted to see me. In-the-moment ghosting. It dawned on me, in a serious bout of sadness and shock, perhaps, through the lens of a pursuer, I was actually the one being pursued. Surely, I had been on the other side before, is this what that moment feels like? The flashbacks haunted me for weeks, I had done exactly what Chloë did before. I wanted to message former flings and say I’m sorry. I too had dawned chameleon-like qualities to get what I want. Maybe this resolve in confidence is a clever coping mechanism. Maybe dating sucks. Maybe I’ll learn from this. I’m ready to try again.