Somewhere in Connecticut * a giant is taking a snooze. He’s lying face-up with a large schnoz pointing proudly to the sky, a rotund belly perhaps enlarged from too many bear claws bought at a local bakery, and knobby knees that protrude awkwardly from below his rather wimpy thighs. This giant – be he a Yeti, a Bigfoot, or Santa Claus, it’s impossible to say – hasn’t woken in a millennia to anyone’s knowledge, and thus has become a favorite hiking spot for those who know where to find him. My Connecticut date, Ian, did know how to make his way to Sleeping Giant State Park, so we spent a few hours winding almost two miles up the path to the watchtower (and then back down).
Ian was unassuming on first sight. He seemed well prepared for hiking in actual hiking apparel and carrying a bottle of water, which was more than I could say for myself as I was in jeans and had debated wearing my running shoes or wearing flats (and definitely did not have my Nalgene filled). A high-five and hug later, we were on our way up the giant’s stomach.
Talking to Ian reminded me of my best piece of advice for daters: be interested, and be interesting. Our conversation meandered from topic to topic without struggle, each discussion point seamlessly falling into the next. Books, music, places of employment, random memories of childhood, family, upbringing, and band were all discussed, and we took turns telling silly stories, asking insightful questions, and keeping each other’s interest. Ahhhh. This is a good first date; and this is the reason I genuinely enjoy dating.
Dating allows us to be intimate strangers. We’re able to push boundaries in conversation, boundaries we’d never push in the workplace or with the grocery store clerk, because we are indeed supposed to be trying to get close to our date. To figure them out just a little and to decide if we want to figure them out more. But more than that, we have nothing to lose by being open with a date, and we have everything to gain: a memory, a moment, a friendship, life-changing advice. Letting Ian in immediately allowed him to put a new spin on my way of thinking, and hopefully him letting me in did the same. We’re not destined to always be who we are in this moment, but unless we actively seek new points of view, new reasoning and critical thought, we’ll never change.
Ian and I reached the top of the giant, and rather than continuing to figure each other out we simply enjoyed being in a watchtower that felt like it belonged in Scotland, and loosened up even more as we watched the sun set through arched windows. All too soon it was time to leave, say an awkward goodbye, and drive off into the darkness.
Disclaimer: Hiking is not a first date I would normally agree to; not because I dislike tromping about but rather because I don’t think it’s the safest call for a gal unless she’s familiar with the area and knows it’s well populated. But as Megan is always with me and typically at least four other people know the plan thanks to text messaging and daily calls with Noah, I’ve accepted hiking dates with enthusiasm and the knowledge that I’ve taken care to be as safe as possible. Plus, I usually pack mace regardless (thanks Dad!).
*God and Batman and Megan only know where.