New Life : Maddy 3rd Date :)

New Life : Maddy 3rd Date :)

1:13AM: Dining table, NYC


The place she took me was called Bar Belly. She asked what I was in the mood for and I said something cozy with live music and good drinks. 

Bar Belly was cozy with live music and good drinks. It was a long and narrow basement bar – like every bar in New York City – and two men were perched on benches against the wall, one with a sax and one on an old piano. 

She ordered a variation of an Old Fashioned and I got a Guinness as they didn’t have any other stouts. 

“I’ll have a drink with you tonight,” I said.

I didn’t understand how we could sit in a place so quaint and not drink together. If nothing else, New York has been teaching me how to indulge in small plates, cheese, and drinks in the evening. You could say I’m living. I’m just trying not to fight it. Trying not to judge myself for lacking discipline or being weak. Being afraid that I’m not who I say I am in front of these women and they will later throw my imperfection in my face. 

Maddy says she doesn’t like eating in front of people that much. At work she consumes her lunch standing near the sink like someone who will be in trouble if discovered. We got some fries and some fancy popcorn with an assortment of garden herbs. She ordered a second drink and I did not. 

We were wedged between two other groups at a table that was barely large enough to fit my pint and her rocks glass. We looked at each other across the table with a small candle burning between us. 

Her complexion is very light and her hair is blonde and red like mine. She doesn’t look like anyone I’ve ever dated before. I almost always go for dark hair and olive skin. She looks like a someone from England in the 1800s. Even the her style doesn’t feel of this time – blazers and flowy blouses with trousers and loafers. Her cheek bones sit high on her face and when she looks at me I pick up the glow of the candle in her eyes. Her lips are gently pursed and I know this is because she is holding together an image.

“I have to look around and try to remember this place so I can describe it later in my journal,” I told her.

I remember seeing framed pictures on the wall and I remember the candles. I remember that it was small and I remember that the music made me want to sit next to her and hold hands and listen. 

After she finished her drink we decided to hit the road. She had just finished telling me that she was raised by her Aunt and Uncle. The people she had been referring to as mom and dad weren’t actually biological. Her mom had gotten sick when she was younger and she never knew her dad. It was a long story that she would share more of later. She wasn’t sure why she was telling me all of this on our third date.

I am drawn to her honestly. Admittedly, I’m concerned that she has a history closely resembling Alexis’s. Although I’m only concerned because of all the people who’ve told me we are drawn to certain people not necessarily for good reasons but often so we can bond over trauma.

We started walking in the general direction of my apartment.

“Do you want to come to my place and have some tea?” I asked her.

She smiled and said yes.

“We just need to make a quick stop at Target and get tea and a tea kettle.”

“Haha. Okay great.” 

I had pictured this earlier. Planned for it. I had plenty of time during the day to go to Target but I wanted to have this experience so we could do something together for my apartment. So she could feel first and important. 

“What flavor tea do you want?” she asked me as we stood in the limited tea section of Target Express. Her blazer was draped over her shoulders and her arms were out of the sleeves, an image I took a second to stop and remember.

“Umm. Usually I go for ginger. But I don’t see ginger. So maybe this Breathe Deeply one? What about you, what one do you want?”

“That one seems good. I was also looking at this lavender chamomile,” she said.

“Yes. We should definitely get that. We should each get one.” 

And so we did.

Then we grabbed a $20 electric kettle from the kitchen section and headed back up the escalator in the painfully bright neon lights of the Targ Mahal to do a quick self checkout. 

Back at my place I was far from being natural.

“This is a mild variation of the nervous breakdown you experienced at your place the other night,” I said as I paced back and forth between the box the tea was in and the box the kettle was in. My brain wouldn’t give me a clear answer as to which box I should address first. She stood in the doorway watching me but not watching me in a harsh way. She had already hung her blazer over the back of the chair like she’d been in my apartment a dozen times.

“Nothing can be as bad as that,” she responded. 

I finally unboxed the kettle and filled it with water and made some tea. 

“I don’t have mugs. We probably should’ve gotten some mugs but we’ll just have to drink out of these glasses.” 

“I also don’t have any coasters so I just use things from around the apartment,” I said as I set our teas down on two Target receipts from the last couple days. 

I had a couch and I had a coffee table and I had a chair and I had a stereo and I had speakers but I didn’t have the slightest idea of how we should sit together and experience the evening. 

There were a couple of feet between us and no clear path to snuggling since I didn’t yet have pillows or blankets for the couch. It was too soon to ask her to lay in bed plus we would just spill tea on ourselves and be ruined. 

Over the next hour I went through a few nighttime jam playlists on Spotify. Eventually, she brought up that she had read a bunch of articles on my blog.

“Oh god. What did you read?”

“Pretty much everything. I stopped at the Whole30 section.”

“And what did you think?”

“I couldn’t believe how much you shared. And not just about yourself. Like, anyone in your life, it was just all out there. It was shocking to me.” 

“Yeah it’s definitely something people have to sign up for. Nothing that happens is off limits and I really like writing about the not so great parts of relationships.” 

“It was really good. You’re a great writer. I just wasn’t expecting that much of your personal life.” 

“You’re still here with me though so it couldn’t have been a terrible experience for you, correct?”

She smiled and said it wasn’t terrible.

I was relieved for this. I stopped writing during much of my relationship with Alexis. I was still writing in my journal but I wasn’t publishing as much. It felt uninteresting to me and all the stuff I wanted to write about was mundane relationship scenarios. Since Maddy was going to be entering this situation with the knowledge of my past and an indication of how I write then I would feel more in the clear about continuing that process if something became of us.

She started yawning eventually. Then I started yawning. Our bodies were falling into the couch and if it had been a few dates later I would’ve played with her hair as she fell asleep on my lap. 

I believe there are a few voices that exist during dates, especially early on in a new relationship. There is certainly the voice telling you what it thinks you should do based on all the movies, stories, and conversations with friends that have taken place. That voice urges for kissing, sex, smooth lines, and natural movements. There is another voice that might be more accurate to who we are as people. That voice tends to be generally freaking out and unsure of everything from how loud we’re breathing to whether it’s a deal breaker or not that we’ve had to pee eight times since sitting down.

The move to invite her onto my lap for hairplaying seemed such a far jump from where we actually were – having just met each other, having only a few hours in this entire lifetime together – that I couldn’t do it in good conscience.

I took the cups to the sink and she slowly put on her shoes and her jacket and then we were in the dining room. 

Now the pressure was really mounting. There was so much space between us on the couch and the move across the fabric was filled with friction and possible mistakes and we were both holding hot tea and why the fuck weren’t we just making out the whole time? I need a lot of information with these new people. It doesn’t have to be love but it should at least mean something.

And yet, sometimes we must thrust ourselves into the unknown simply for the sake of experiencing temporary blindness.

I hugged her by the table. I kept her in my arms and pulled my head back, trying Ashley’s sworn move one more time. She pulled away. I cursed myself and Ashley inside. Why was this so confusing? Did she want me to kiss her or not? Why couldn’t she just give me a little indication and take all of the pressure off of me?

We walked to the door and I opened it with her trailing on my hip. My thoughts ran through a series of films and also the idea that I was simply being too slow and too unsure so with the door in my right hand I turned around and leaned into her and planted a heavy one right on her lips. Her body pulled into mine like I was a vacuum and she was my dust. Her mouth opened and her hands found my face and then my back and then she said, “How much time until the Lyft is here?” And I said, “It’s already here, slow is better.” In between all that I let go of the door and it slammed in a dramatic fashion that was only made less dramatic by the growing erection I was harboring. 

It’s better to go slow. Did she want to have sex just like that? Could I have cancelled the car and taken her into my bed like a stud? I didn’t want her like that. I didn’t want it to be true because that would’ve been too easy and I liked her and I wanted it to last longer so I could feel more. 

I kissed her four more times as she cleared the door. I was aiming for five but she turned away. I don’t know why I didn’t walk her down to the car. I wasn’t thinking clearly and am usually not thinking clearly on any of these dates. That was my first kiss in New York. 

She texted me later.

“Thanks for the ride home and thanks for kissing me. If you read my chart you’d know it’s impossible for me to make the first move, even if I want to. So thanks.” 

I stood in the kitchen and smiled and then humped the air and thought about helicoptering my penis before sitting down and opening Instagram. 

Erica posted a mirror shot in a hot red dress.

It couldn’t just be one thing tonight. 

“Come over,” I texted her.

“Okay,” she said.

“You’re not serious.”

“Of course I’m not.”

Late nights and late mornings. I haven’t sat down to meditate yet here. I’m playing guitar. Editing photos. Writing. But mostly running around on the charge of the city being a maniac just slightly out of control and just slightly in love with this new life. 

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