As I’m sure is true for a lot of my generation, my dating life has been quite atypical. By this I mean I’ve never really been courted, I haven’t been on very many “proper dates,” and I have never had a boy walk me to my front door. I consider myself a pretty hardcore feminist, so I don’t expect boys to treat me any differently than I treat them, and to be fair, I’ve never asked a guy out on a proper date either. Still, there’s this idea of what a “real date” is, but somewhere along the line a date became “hanging out,” and emojis replaced roses. Like I said, I’m not mad about it, I might even prefer it this way. There is so much pressure that comes with someone asking you on a proper date (especially if it’s someone you’re already interested in), and a casual “wanna hang out sometime?” is much less nerve-wracking. I’ve gotten the 11pm “hey, wanna come over n’ watch a movie?” text message way more times than I care to admit, but I’ve never received a “Hey, how are you? Would you like to get dinner this weekend?” phone call, by any means. It isn’t really how we, as a generation, work anymore. Relationships (in my and my friends’ experiences at least) are more likely to develop through mutual friends, over Facebook messenger, via text message, or on dating sites that suggest a casual coffee shop or bar encounter — people these days develop relationships in a much more casual way.
While trying to rack my memory for any “real dates” I’ve ever been on, I could only think of one. Ironically, the first and only “real” date I’ve ever been on was with my first “real” boyfriend. I then remembered that I had written a piece about our date a few months after we finally broke up. So, I dug it up. Despite it’s eventual outcome, it was nice to remember what it was like to go on a proper date; while they can be scary, there is also something really wonderful about the formality. So, I now present you with the awkward ramblings of an 18-year-old girl who just didn’t want to forget.
When he turned up the dark road to his house, the car started shaking violently on the cobblestone road and my nervous hands followed suit. I had no idea what I was doing. I hadn’t seen this man in 3 years and here I was, our first date, going back to his house after a movie that our knees had barely even touched during. As I glanced over at him in the driver’s seat, his beautiful, sad eyes were on the road and my stomach was in my throat. The road was getting darker and exponentially more creepy, and I realized that I knew practically nothing about this guy. I knew he loved the Red Hot Chili Peppers and I knew he lived and breathed filmmaking. I knew he had been dating a crazy jealous girl when we first met, and I knew we always had great conversations when he used to drive me home from the film set where we met; but of his personality, I knew nothing. Maybe my friends had been right, I thought to myself. Maybe it was not the best idea to go on a date with someone as significantly older than me as he was. But my older, “much more mature” high-school-senior-self dismissed the thought, took a deep breath and got out of the car.
As we walked up the hill to his house, I don’t remember if we were holding hands, but I do remember that holding his hand was the only thing I could think about. He opened the white door that didn’t match the rest of the brick house – a crumbly old duplex that rested on the side of a hill, tucked back on a side street, on the other side of the tunnel. (Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would find myself driving through that tunnel blasting Taylor Swift many, many times in the months to come.) I walked into the kitchen with him and the combined smell of overcooked pasta, weed and dirty dishes immediately hit me in the face; it was apparent that while he had graduated from college in the spring, he was still very much a college boy – not that I really knew what that meant as a senior in high school. Regardless, I felt out of place, standing awkwardly in his kitchen, but I tried to make conversation. He offered me a beer and pulled two Lion’s Heads out of the fridge. I panicked for a second about whether I should ask for a bottle opener or attempt to screw off the cold metal cap; I was only skilled at popping the tabs off the cans of Natural Light that my friends and I drank. I was relieved to see him grasp the top of the bottle underneath his green t-shirt and twist the top off. I opened mine and he pulled back the heavy black blanket that was suspended from the archway behind me as a makeshift door. The living room was furnished with a drum kit, a futon that I knew was from Walmart because I had the same one in my family room at home, and a brown shelving unit that held speakers and a white Macbook. There was also a solid white, naked female mannequin with a pink feather boa wrapped around her neck in the opposing corner. They had a name for her, which is one thing I’m okay with not remembering.
After a few beers, I found myself sitting on the futon with this man, this boy, this guy, talking about the movie we had just seen. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that we saw Twilight, but I was in high school, and the whole “the lion and the lamb” theme was pretty relevant to our relationship. I was convinced he had hated it and was only being polite because, well, he was a man in his twenties, but he continually insisted that he had genuinely enjoyed it.
All of a sudden, I realized that our knees were finally touching, and then, before I knew it, our hands wove and we hardly let go for the rest of the night. It will always be a mystery to me when exactly we switched from being horizontal to vertical on that futon; but there I was, my stomach in knots, lying parallel to this man whom I was still not sure really existed. We talked about his music and my recent trip to Bermuda and I found it hard, as always, to not get lost in his eyes. I don’t really remember our first kiss, but I know it happened then, and I remember noting how well our lips fit together. He kissed me again, and I kissed him back. He pulled away and looked at me: “You’re a good kisser,” he said, with a hint of surprise in his voice. “You’re not so bad yourself,” I whispered back, proud of my witty rebuttal, and kissed him again.
He let me plug in my iPod and I put on a playlist I had made in anticipation of our first date. It might have been the beer, or maybe it was the nerves that made me forget just how juvenile the songs on that playlist really were. When a song that was clearly written for 13-year-old girls came on, he laughed and asked me what the hell it was. I had no clue how to answer because I certainly wasn’t about to tell him that it was Hannah Montana, so I shook it off and shut him up by kissing him again. Every time I pulled my face away from his that night, I would chuckle to myself a little and shake my head in disbelief. He kept asking what I was laughing at, but “nothing” was all I could come up with; I just couldn’t find the words to tell him how unreal this moment was to me. Here I was, lying on a dirty Walmart futon with a guy I never even imagined I would see again, let alone be kissing – his arms around my waist, and his fingers tracing lines on my stomach, it felt surreal. He finally gave up asking, and I don’t think it was until weeks later that I finally found the words to tell him why I had been laughing. I took a deep breath and rested my head in the space between his chest and his arm, a position that I would find myself in a lot in the months to come. We didn’t completely fall asleep that night, every now and then one of us would start talking or he would kiss me again, but my phone alarm eventually went off around 6am and I told him I needed to go home. I had to take my brother to soccer practice.
He put on his leather coat, which I remembered perfectly from when we first met 3 years prior, and slipped on his brown skater shoes, which I came to identify with him. The car ride home, as I remember it, was comfortably silent, interrupted only by my directions back to my house, where he would never set foot. He pulled into my driveway and the car idled. I thanked him for a wonderful night and told him to call me. He kissed me in a way that said I’d be hearing from him soon and I kissed him back, in a way that I hope told him how deeply I knew that something real was about to happen between us. I got out of the car, walked up the steps to my house, and went to wake up my brother.
The rest of our relationship involved a lot of that futon, that house, that creepy road, and talks about how he was a “sick, masochistic lion” and I was a “stupid lamb,” all shrouded by my incredible disbelief that any of it was actually happening. As most relationships do, it eventually came to an end, and it wasn’t until afterwards that I realized how hard I had fallen for this man who I now knew so well. I knew he had cold hands almost all of the time, he slept until at least 3pm on a good day, he laughed uncontrollably (and adorably) every time he watched South Park, and he had three hilarious roommates. I knew the exact weight of his body on top of mine, that he was a pretty awful speller, and that there was more going on in his brain than anyone I had ever known. He couldn’t cook spaghetti without direct supervision and most importantly, I knew that he never quite felt the same way about me as I did about him. I guess I’ll never know what would have happened if I had been just one year older, or what the months of my life I spent heartbroken would have been like if I hadn’t gone back to his house that night, but I have never regretted a single moment of it.
If you liked this post, check out 9 Things I Learned From Moving On After A Break Up.
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