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New Life : Maddy Date 4. Emergence of a Feeling - kale & cigarettes
New Life : Maddy Date 4. Emergence of a Feeling

New Life : Maddy Date 4. Emergence of a Feeling

December, 2019

Maddy and I met at the Angelika to see Dark Waters, which was basically Spotlight again but this time about bad chemical companies. She was coming straight from work and I was coming straight from doing basically nothing. I was on time and she was a few minutes late.

When she did arrive she was wearing a heavy pea coat over a blazer and flowing white blouse. She didn’t lock eyes with me right away and I realized she was talking assertively into her airpods.

“Did you check the basement? I left them down there so you’ll have to go down and look for them and let me know when you find them. Okay…?”

Was it her work? She worked in the archive room which could be the basement. But who would she be talking to with such a tone? 

“I’m sorry, it was my sister,” she said as she hung up the phone. She carried a charge.

We walked into the theater that looked like a train station turned into a French cafe. The ceilings were high and the round marble tables were surrounded by cast iron chairs.

I bought the tickets and she insisted on getting me a snack. 

“I think I need a drink,” she said.

She ordered a beer and I got these delicious snap pea crisps that I love. I am really pleased to see theaters offering better snacks.

The movie was starting soon and she was drinking her beer quickly.

“It’s okay. There will be fifteen minutes of previews and I’ve already seen everything,” I told her.

She sat down and took a breath before looking around to finally take the space in. 

“So, how was your day?” she asked me. 

The theater room itself was old and the screen was tiny. It felt like being at my rich friend’s house in high school, only the chairs weren’t plush brown leather and we weren’t passing around a three foot water bong. 

The movie was good but these two foreign dudes across the aisle kept translating every scene back and forth. I looked over repeatedly, hoping they would notice me and stop talking. What I considered a reasonable response to their constant chatter. It never happened and I worried that Maddy was registering me in the corner of her eye as an angry dad with a passive-aggressive nature that would inevitably be taken out on her. Or maybe she just wanted me to fight them. Too early to tell. 

The film was based heavily in West Virginia, where she spent part of her childhood. And when Take Me Home Country Roads played as Mark Ruff drove down the windy, abandoned road I saw her hand come to her heart and her lips move to sing all the words. I wanted to reach out and touch her so I could feel that moment and not forget it as it was the moment I knew I had feelings for her. 

We walked for a while after the movie. We talked about where to go next.

“Should we wander or suck it up and pull out our phones?” I asked.

“Wandering is more romantic,” she responded. 

We needed a place to sit down and look at each other. A place that would allow us to spend a little more time together because we weren’t done with each other on this night just yet. I was also hungry so I needed a place with food. 

We stumbled into an Irish pub and she got a Bell’s Two-Hearted. I got water, fish tacos, and a tahini cauliflower appetizer. I was trying to be considerate of the fact that she doesn’t go out of her way to eat meat while also being considerate to the fact that I needed about 250 grams of protein per meal. 

When we were all done I had neatly folded my napkin and placed it on the table. It was barely used. Hers was soaked through with grease and crumbled into a ball on top of her plate. 

I called Ashley on the walk home from Chinatown after dropping Maddy off on her doorstep. 

“Give me a kiss,” she said.

Actually, she said, “Now give me kisses and say goodbye.” 

I told Ashley I had a really good night. 

“Do you think I can like someone who is so opposite of me? She’s chaos. Animated. Loud and unbelievably hilarious,” I continued. 

“Does she remind you of A?” Ashley asked.

“No, actually. I don’t think A was ever herself around me. I don’t feel like I ever knew her.” 

At one point, I asked Maddy if she felt like she was her genuine self tonight. She said she usually doesn’t eat in front of people. Or talk so freely. I had a hard time believing the talking part. She spoke effortlessly. She is like watching a one-woman Broadway show. Marvelous Mrs. Whatever with the self deprecation of an intelligent woman in a jaded man’s world in a city of mice and high fashion. 

“Here’s what I think is important,” Ashley continued. “You need to be with someone who is herself. Neat or messy, you need to know she stands on her own.” 

It’s early days. This is the part where I walk it back. Talk it into perspective. I’m just having fun. I don’t know her yet. But I felt her tonight. Whatever it was, I felt it. 

I want to text her and tell her I could feel the night in my body. That my chest was dancing a bit and my stomach was unsettled. There were sharp points inside me that I hadn’t felt in a while. Of course, I will not tell her this because it will be too much too soon. Both for me to trust and for her to hear. 

It’s not the words anyway. It’s the small stuff. It’s noticing each other. Noticing the napkin and laughing as she tells me to look at them for a second. Remembering a conversation from last time when she spoke about her work. They are small moments that give us lifetimes of information and stretch time and pull us together without our control. The talking is nice but really I just want to see her. 

“What are we gonna do Saturday?” She asked at one point.

“Well, you probably don’t want to come to my cult yoga olympics class…”

“It’s too early on for me to reveal such a disparity in physical ability. I can’t have you seeing me like that yet.” 

“Yeah that’s probably a good call. If you did the wrong posture I don’t think I’d ever be able to see past that.” 

Some more kissing. 

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