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Tennessee

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A night at the Arrington Winery was all I needed to 1) fall in love with their wine collection and 2) fall in like with Shelly.

Shelly was not the typical guy I’ve gone out with, either on this trip or back in my real life in the Bay Area. He was, well…a grown-up. But not just in size (at six-foot-something, yes, that was true) or in lifestyle (he had returned to school recently for a graduate degree in occupational therapy). Rather, Shelly was a grown-up based on his overall demeanor.

I was a bit disarmed by Shelly. He was confident — not overly or underly so, but in a way that made him seem like a person is supposed to. He was not apologetic for himself, nor was he self-deprecating as is such the rage these days. Instead he was comfortable and made his comfort apparent by not addressing any lack of comfort. All this made me comfortable too, and made me try to reign in on my tendency to apologize for myself with gusto.

As we tried a variety of wines at the tasting counter, we kept getting wrapped up in conversation about finding happiness, hiking up volcanoes in Central America, and of course, drinking wine, the beverage of the hour. (We each got to try four, and nothing disappointed. I wish I could tell you they were paying me to say this but geez Louise, they did not. Their wine was just that good). It was taking us quite a while to make it through our tastings, so eventually we had to get down to brass tacks and imbibe — talking could wait for our picnic. My favorite wine was the Antebellum, which had spent time aging in whiskey barrels and had a distinct spirits taste that I found fascinating and delicious. Though both Shelly and I agreed the dessert wines were the more distinct and universally liked blends, so we bought a bottle each of those and went on the hunt for a table.

A table hunt is one of those defining moments for a first date. You get to see if the person you are with gets frustrated that there is nowhere to sit, or if they get annoyed by being in a crowd. You witness their ability to be polite and patient, and inevitably, you witness them interacting with strangers. Shelly was congenial, good tempered and polite as heck. Sweet. I saw a couple leaving, made sure no one else was hovering, swooped in and had the table before the departing people had even pushed in their chairs. Break out the salami for him, the cheese for me, apples all around and BAM! Picnic dinner was served.

The conversation ambled to dating (it’s impossible for it not to with my current state of life) and a discussion of our worst first date stories, online dating etiquette and what it’s like to get to finally make out with your high school crush as an adult (a lovely experience we’d both had since graduating). In my normal life I’d say conversing about dating would be a huge no way on a date, but with Shelly, it all felt very natural and a bit silly. Like, we knew we had dating history, so why not share and enjoy?

We said goodbye, lingering a bit despite all the rain, and the drive home was spent with Megan asking me questions and me a bit checked out in my head, wondering where the rest of the guys like Shelly are.  Shelly treated me like a person —  an independent, worthwhile, full-blown adult. Maybe I’m ready for a man.

I feel old saying that. But maybe it’s true.

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