Ever since I’ve lived in New York I’ve had a peculiar habit of always thinking back to what I was doing a year ago. I can remember my second summer thinking about how it felt like I should be dating Brandon. The only New York summer I knew was with him. My second New Year’s Eve I was super down because I was thinking about the year before; my first NYE in New York and my first NYE with a boyfriend. I couldn’t help but think about the hours Curtis and I had spent in Times Square and how perfect that night had felt.
This habit has gone on year after year. I think it’s something about the change in seasons. The change in temperature, scenery, and smells take me back to what was going on in my life the last time I experienced these things. There is obviously always a strong connection to whomever I was dating at the time, because other than apartments, everything else in my life was pretty much the same. Same job, mostly same friends, etc.
As my last vacation was approaching, along with August, this time last year weighed heavily on my mind. It was almost the exact same day I took off for a two week vacation, during which I’d spend time in California, Utah, and Idaho. I didn’t plan to take the same trip this year, and didn’t plan to leave almost exactly the same date (off by one day,) it just worked out that way. The only real difference is I was only gone for a week this year.
July 30, 2010 was such a happy day. It was a Friday. I left my office around 2pm so I’d have time to go home and finish packing, and then head to JFK to catch my flight. I remember leaving the office and calling my mom and saying, “I’m free!!!” There is nothing like leaving your office on a beautiful sunny summer day and knowing you don’t have a thing to think about for the next sixteen days. My only agenda was to visit friends and family, take part in Aimee and Jerry’s wedding, and spend a weekend in San Francisco with my girlfriends. I stopped by Banana on my way to Grand Central Station and found a few items on clearance.
I can distinctly remember walking through the terminal to the 4/5 and thinking, I feel so happy I could burst. Things were good. I’d spent the summer focusing on bettering myself. I’d been working out regularly and for the first time in years, wasn’t dating anyone, trying to date anyone, crushing on anyone, or letting anyone simmer. I was 100% single and can remember saying I’d never been happier single. I will be honest and say I have never been that girl who says, “I just want to enjoy being single right now. I don’t want a relationship.” To be honest I have a hard time believing any LDS girl who says that post-college. So, of course I would have liked to have been dating someone, but I felt like I had control over all the things that were in my control, and felt the happiest I’d ever been in that state.
I was flying American, connecting in Chicago. I spent the better part of the car ride and time in the airport on my phone making calls about the apartment I’d just found (in which I currently live.) I was returning calls with questions about my income, references, etc and I was racing against the clock to get the calls done before end of business day eastern time.
When I got to ORD I called my dad, as he was flying home from Boston, on United, which is random because he almost always flies American, but wasn’t, and I almost never fly American, but was. We were both connecting in Chicago, so it’s unfortunate we hadn’t been able to coordinate to fly together. We wanted to say hello at least while we were both in the same airport. We met up and chatted for a bit, and then I headed back to my gate where my flight was now boarding.
I was lucky to have a first class seat, so I boarded the plane and sat down and sort of just let out a huge sigh of relief. All my calls were made, I’d been able to connect with my dad, work was off my mind for two weeks, and now I could just relax. I got my things settled and then got up to use the ladies room while everyone else was still boarding. As I was headed back to my seat I didn’t notice the flight attendant behind me. I sat down and he was standing there, informing me I was going to have to go to my seat in the back of the plane. Thinking he must assume I was confused because the Yankees tank, yoga pants, Toms, and messy bun I was sporting didn’t exactly scream First Class, I assured him, “Oh, no, this is my ticketed seat.” He looked a little more stern and said, “Nooooo……you didn’t understand me. You need to go to the back of the plane, all the way to the back, and sit in a middle seat.” For whatever reason I have always had the immediate reaction to believe any sort of authority figure and immediately assume I’m guilty of something. I sort of stuttered something, and looked confused, and then he finally said something like, “They Yankees? Really?” I then relaxed and laughed, and said, “Oh, I take it you’re a Sox fan?” He scoffed. Then I remembered I was in Chicago. (I mean, anyone who roots for any other team hates the Yanks, but I figured this made the most sense.) He once again scoffed and said no. Confused (and not even thinking about my destination of Orange County) I finally asked, “Who’s your team??” He then told me the Angels and I said, “Oh, well you’ll hate me even more because I should be an Angels fan; I’m from Mission Viejo.”
This turned into the talk of where we’re from, where we went to high school, etc. It turned out he lived in Las Flores and graduated from Mission Viejo High School. I could tell he was a tad bit older than me, so I didn’t ask what year. He told me he’d played water polo there, as well as at Long Beach State, and asked if I’d played sports. I confidently said, “Well, I was a cheerleader, so, yes.” I got the expected reaction and we continued the trash talk until he needed to get back to work.
I didn’t think anything of it. I also didn’t think anything of it when I used the ladies’ room again mid flight (those bottomless drinks in first are lovely) and he stopped me to ask me about what I do in New York, what I do for fun, where I’ve traveled to, and just made general conversation. I also took no note when he stopped to make a comment every time he served me something to eat or refilled my drink. He later told me he’d had a Yankees executive on one of his flights who’d offered him tickets the next time he was in New York. I told him he was so lucky and he should definitely take him up on the offer. He then told me the next time he was out he planned on it, and I should go with him. I still wasn’t thinking anything other than, Wow, I’d love tickets to a Yankees game.
He asked me if I was busy while I was home (I’d explained to him that I was home for a week, then heading to Utah, then Idaho, then back home, then to San Francisco.) I said yes, but no, and explained that every time I came home I always planned every second away and didn’t relax, so I wasn’t making any plans and was just trying to take things as they came and was spending time with my family. It wasn’t until he said, “Well…..that’s not exactly the answer I was hoping for,” that I thought, Is this guy hitting on me? I laughed and told him sorry, but that I had promised my mom I would take it easy for the most part.
Before I got off the plane we exchanged phone numbers, you know, for the Yankees game, and I was on my way. I remember glancing back at him before I stepped off the plane and finally realizing, Wow, he is handsome. And tall. And dark. And seems pretty straight. (Keep in mind his profession.) That night we texted a bit and he was very friendly and sweet, and told me to let him know if I had any time for him while I was home.
I can’t remember what I did the next day but that night I went with my parents to a very crowded wedding reception for a guy in the ward I grew up in. He comes from one of those huge families that’s been around forever, and knows everyone, so of course the reception was a zoo and everyone from the tri-stake area and then some was there. I caught up with so many friends who are now married and living in the area, and all the grown-ups I’d gotten to know in my youth. I got the same questions and comments I always get when I’m at home, especially at weddings: Are you still living in New York? Wow! You are so lucky/brave/adventurous/crazy! Are you dating anyone? I can’t believe you’re not married! or even better Why aren’t you married yet?? There is such an awesome guy out there for you, I just know it! The men are intimidated! To be fair, I have not gotten the question or statement about being married in a really long time, and at this point I just laugh when I get it. But, for the record, that whole “the men are intimidated line” should really be banished for anyone over the age of, oh, I don’t know, 19? We single girls appreciate the gesture, but, let’s get real, there are plenty of absolutely beautiful, successful, talented girls who date all the time or are already married. Face it, it’s not that all the guys are intimidated, it’s just the situation. Some of us are simply just “still” single.
Anyway, for the most part, I really don’t care about those questions, but it never gets fully comfortable to go to weddings with your parents as your date, in your late 20s, congratulating what looks like a child bride (no offense…) and then just sorta hanging with Mom and Dad when things get awkward. (I have tried to make a point to leave before the bouquet toss, you would not believe how people insist I stand awkwardly amongst a group of beehives, fighting over a bouquet.) I appreciate and love my parents, especially when my mom shares my dad so I can have someone to dance with, but I still always leave weddings feeling a little down.
My parents and I had talked about going to see Inception after the reception, but as parents sometimes do on Saturday nights, they got tired, and didn’t feel like going. So there I am, twiddling my thumbs on a Saturday night, feeling like a loner after having been reminded how Single! I am. So, I did what anyone else would do and texted the guy who’d hit on me the day before. “Hey! I’m sure you’re probably out and about tonight?” Nope, he was just at home watching a movie, and asked if I was free. Perfect. He asked if I drank wine (we’d discussed the Mormon thing on the plane) and I said no but am happy to go somewhere and have something else to drink, and didn’t feel uncomfortable with others who drank. (A concept that really confuses me but people always ask if I mind if they order a glass….polite, but unnecessary.) He said no, we’d go somewhere else. I offered the idea of Golden Spoon. Ya know, keep it light. He asked if I wanted to meet at his house or at GS. I may be a little adventurous but I’m not stupid. I told him I’d meet him at GS in thirty minutes, gave my mom his full name and number, and off I went.
I got to the creepy darkish parking lot a little after 10 and reminded myself why I love living in a city that stays open past 10pm on a Saturday, and called him to let him know it was closed and asked if we could meet somewhere else. (I’d beat him there.) He said he’d be there in just a couple minutes and to just wait. Like a good paranoid girl, I stayed in my car, not even getting out when he pulled up. He came over to the car, and I told him the Golden Spoon in Foothill Ranch was open until 11. We ended up deciding to go to another yogurt place in the Kaleidescope, which was close by. He asked if I wanted to ride with him and I smiled and said no, that I would follow. He then said, “Oh yeah, this is our first date huh?” I smiled again and said, “A girl’s gotta watch out for herself.”
Off we went for what was one of the best first dates I’ve ever had in my life. It turned out he’s fourteen years my senior, which was surprising and I didn’t believe until he showed me his driver’s license. I would have guessed ten. This only attracted me more than I already was, as even though the biggest gap in age I’d ever had was only six years, I’ve always been attracted to and felt much more confident and comfortable around older men.
We chatted away until the shop closed, and then moved outside to listen to the live band and keep chatting. I felt so comfortable by the end, I was sort of hoping he’d kiss me goodnight. I don’t think I’ve ever had an official “I don’t really know you” sort of a first date that ended well enough to warrant a kiss. However, he was a perfect gentlemen and just gave me a hug and asked me to text him when I got home safely. He even called while I was on the drive to thank me for meeting him, and tell me how much he enjoyed the evening. I was seriously swooning.
The next day is when I got the first phone call that was like someone pulling the rug out from underneath me.