A Perfectly Fine Man

1 Apr

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The sun pierced my eyes through the blinds of my bedroom. I squinted through them, catching the snow-capped Rockies in the distance. There is nothing like coming home to a place you love.

New York was fabulous, and it made me want to explore everything – Denver while I am broke. And the rest of the world when I have the means to travel (thanks to those readers who gave me those travel ideas and tips, by the way; it was quite helpful).

Since I had been at a work conference all weekend, I got to take the weekday off. I rolled over, excited to let the day and city take me where I let it, restricted by no one.

And then I remembered I had a date that night.

Ugh.

After networking all weekend in New York, my stores of social energy were depleted. All I wanted was to walk around aimlessly and daydream, without interference from a schedule.

I so wanted to cancel, but one of my mom’s friend’s daughters had set me up on this date; cancelling would have caused more turmoil for me later with my mother than the inconvenience of going now. With the date looming over my head, inhibiting my full enjoyment of the day because I could only wander so far and do so much, I still managed to walk to a neighborhood I’d never seen and find a used book store with a wide array of travel books. I returned to the apartment, procrastinated, then allowed myself just enough time to throw on some black pumps and red lipstick, grab a trench and head out the door.

My date, Matt, and I were meeting in the River North neighborhood of Denver (one of those up-and-coming neighborhoods), at an “urban winery.” Unlike an online date, I didn’t actually know what he looked like, and that made me immediately nervous. We planned to meet at the bar (as opposed to a table or in the vestibule), and this time I was prepared to be thorough in confirming his identity.

Luckily, this wine bar was much quieter than the bars downtown and there were only two people sitting there. I sidled up to a guy who looked like he could be my date.

“Are you Matt?” I asked.

“Jennifer!” A guy in his late 20s/early 30s stood up. He looked like he was about six feet tall, had blond hair, blue eyes, a big nose, and a perfect smile.

He stood up and hugged me. I wasn’t expecting that, but it was kind of nice. It made me realize how long it had been since I’d actually had physical contact with anyone. He smelled like expensive cologne.

“Would you like to sit down?” He held out a bar stool for me and took my coat. “Do you want something to drink?” He pointed to the menu of wine.

“Thank you.” I smiled at him, pleasantly surprised by his manners. “I’ll have the pinot noir,” I said to the bartender, who nodded and filled a glass.

“Good choice,” Matt said. “So how’s your day?”

I liked that he was putting forth so much energy to make me comfortable and I liked that he cared about what I had to say. Within the first five minutes of this date that I had been dreading, I was already on the best date I’d been on in years.

We made some small talk before diving into the usual first-date conversations: what we do, where we live, where we’re from.

Matt was easy to talk to, and he seemed kind. He owns a house in the suburbs, has a dog, goes for hikes, lives near his parents, seemed responsible, and responded positively when I talked about my dreams of travel.

But nothing he said stirred up much of anything inside me. He was physically attractive, but emotionally, I felt nothing. Was that a bad sign? Or had I merely seen too many romantic movies that had set my expectations too high?

We talked for about an hour and had another glass of wine before Matt paid the tab. When we stood up to leave, he asked if we could do this again sometime and I automatically answered yes.

It had been a perfectly nice date with a perfectly nice guy – by my standards, actually, it had been a fantastic date – so why wouldn’t I say yes to seeing him again?

It could be so easy to fall for Matt. It could be so easy to replace the life I almost had with Mr. Poison with a life in the suburbs with a kinder man. It would be easy to let a warm hug and nice cologne make me feel something that wasn’t really there. I had to be careful not to let myself get fooled again.

It’s not enough to find someone who is nice and who treats you well. You can’t set the bar so low that the only qualification for someone to spend significant time with you is to not be a jerk.

I read recently about brain plasticity, and how you can change the make-up of your brain by trying to change which neurons fire and how often based on your experiences. When you have new experiences – like traveling on your own to New York, say – you create new synapses in your brain, which, over time, can permanently change your brain. In other words, the more new things you see and taste and hear and smell and touch, the more it permanently changes who you are.

When I got home, I resolved to call Matt tomorrow and tell him I changed my mind.

Lately I find myself trying to listen  more to my heart. And my heart it seems, yearns for adventure rather than romance. I have more important things to do. Like picking my next (first) big travel destination.

-Jennifer

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One Response to “A Perfectly Fine Man”

  1. totallycaroline 04/01/2016 at 10:19 AM #

    Really? I would say go on the date. One date isn’t really enough to judge if you like someone.

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