Part 4 (Conclusion)
One night there was another first date, a little bit of excitement but a nagging feeling that it would just end like it always does, with empty looks the next morning. People don’t promise to call anymore. Everybody knows you either do or you don’t, and sometimes both parties know there will be no calling taking place because last night is a vague crazy memory slowly constructed by a hungover head. And sometimes the constructed memory is fucking disturbing… pun intended. But this first date started differently. She got a little lost, so I met her in the parking lot. Two strangers walking towards a restaurant where they anticipate having enough drinks to forget each other’s physical and emotional flaws, perhaps eating something, other times just getting into their cars and driving to one of their homes. But this evening was different. We talked and like it goes we related some of our painful experiences. Getting to know each other also means seeing each other’s pain. And even though the striking beauty sitting in front of me should have, and probably have consumed many men with lust, this night I was not feeling it. Perhaps I should just quit the whole dating thing, I thought to myself. I must be so worn out I cannot even muster the shallow emotions needed to get through a one-night stand. No… that was not it. We talked more, holding each other’s hands. Not like lovers-to-be trying to solicit sensuality, not like an “ex-friend-with-benefits” consoling a hurting friend. Not in pity. I felt strangely alive and yet almost struggling to process what I felt. That is when I became aware of strange warm feeling in my heart, which was peculiar because in the last few months my heart had been like a frozen tundra. I looked into her eyes as she said, “I refuse to settle.” “So do I,” I reciprocated. I wondered if what I saw reflected in her eyes was the same strange warm feeling I felt.
We sat in my car and talked for a while. The thought of sex did not even cross my mind. I drove home in a bit of a daze. I sat in my half-lit apartment scared but marveling at the slightest green leaf that had appeared in my heart. Another date, after a crappy dinner in an overrated restaurant we sat in my car again. No notion of sex. Just a tender kiss. My heart glowing softly. A feeling so faint I would not even call it an emotion. Same daze driving home. Another week of shallow dates preloaded in my rotation… Oh, you don’t want to know about what is referred to as a rotation… “What do I do,” I ask my therapist friend. “You go with that faint emotion, and you follow it to wherever it may lead,” she replies. “I am scared of getting hurt again.” “Of course, you are, but follow that feeling and even if it is nothing just realize you are slowly healing and there will be another one that makes you feel that way even if this doesn’t work out.” Wise advice.
The woman and I exchanged texts Friday morning. Weird time we live in, that such tender emotions would be discussed over text. Is it because we are afraid of getting hurt and need a little bit of distance? I put it all on the line and say how I feel. It turns out she feels the same. Not a massive wave of emotion, more like a lump of smoldering coal in a frozen heart that I am slowly trying to nurse until it breaks into a fire. “I am scared to get hurt too,” she texts. Slow and steady is what we both want.
“How are you,” asks a caring friend on Facebook. Everything I just shared runs through my mind like a freight train. “Ok, good sort of,” I reply, totally unable to relate everything I felt and everything I am experiencing.”
This was just a small fragment of the experiences and emotions related to dating at our age.
This is 51…