Holy cannoli. Denver. As noted in my last post, Megan’s stomach decided it had had enough of everything and rebelled by giving her a very visceral sense of deja vu anytime she even thought about the f word (food). We’d decided I’d go on with the date in a modified way by skipping lunch and a horseback ride with Megs filming, adding puttering about a hipster locale with me attempting to film myself.
With the help of Meg’s aunts, T and MA, I packed the equipment bags into Huckleberry Fit, felt thankful for directions handwritten to my destination by MA, got in the car, turned on the GoPro we keep hanging on the windshield at all times, and drove away, waving and smiling. Six minutes later I was a slight wreck, pulled over on the side of a downhill highway after realizing I’d managed to latch the GoPro on upside down and had been trying to finagle it while navigating unfamiliar terrain and cursing up a blue storm ending with “Sorry Derby, sorry!” to a logging guru back at home who has been watching our footage and filtering it. Everything felt like a bit of a disaster, but well, what both Megan and I do best is make. things. work. This was not a time to fall apart and become a wimpy tiger. This was a time to take that tiger by the stripes and shake. Or something. My personal pep talk skills in that moment weren’t exactly stellar.
I fixed the camera and merged back into traffic, settling down for a rather long drive into the heart of Denver, and mentally prepping myself for what was to come. A date with a guy named Bryan. I could do this.
Rarely in the past two months did I have so much time to myself that wasn’t spent in a shower or on a run. Driving alone was not status quo…in fact, I hadn’t done it since the fateful iPhone search back in Arkansas, and that drive had been short and sweet. This drive was straight forward, a highway stretching on and just my need to look for an exit. I started thinking.
I quickly became homesick and kind of miserable. Part of it was watching Megan have the comfort and security of her family with her. Part of it was constantly connecting with strangers but not with people who already think I’m neat and who don’t need to learn about me (or me them). And part of it was future-tripping about someone I’d been chatting with back home, Adam. And an ex from years ago who had become my best friend who had decided he couldn’t be friends with me, but who I deeply wanted to be sharing pieces of this experience with. And part of it was the ex who spurred the whole wild 50/50 idea. In the confines of this car, alone, I became deeply convinced I had somehow really made some weird mistake with my ex and that I was flawed and that no one would ever love me ever because of who I am. Don’t I deserve what I want? Even though that was such an exceptionalist line of thinking I couldn’t help but be wrapped up in that thought.
All this is to say that I arrived at my date a slightly anxious wreck, and made total rookie filmmaker mistakes like, forgetting to turn on the camera when I met Bryan and had to reshoot our meeting. Which goes something like, “Hey, person I don’t know and might potentially become romantically interested in. I know we just said hello, but could we do it again?” Honesty moment: I had to do it a third time because I managed not to hit record the second time, too.
Also, I was just flustered and stuck in my head, that nagging voice of insecurity telling me I was flawed and my secure side overcompensating by attempting to be everything at once: charming! witty! conversationalistic! demure! modest! mature! outgoing! manic pixie dream girl! hummingbird! Bryan, looked at me a bit weirdly, and I suggested we find ourselves some coffee, trying not to put my face into my hand and lose my marbles.
As we sat down, I looked around the sparse coffee shop, and stared at my iced latte. This is where I was at. RIght here, right now. This is what was happening. I inhaled, smiled at Bryan, and thought of a question for him. This is the moment we were in, together. As soon as I accepted what was, I relaxed, and conversation flowed.
We spent a few hours walking into hipster stores full of pricey, hand-made goods. We got pizza at a place that called itself, literally, “Famous Pizza.” When I asked what made them famous, they just expressed shock that I had never heard of them. We got lost looking for a park, took the long way around, sat and talked by a fountain, and asked for directions.
Bryan was a pretty reasonable guy. He’d been an architect of sorts but wasn’t thrilled in that position and was currently underemployed and exploring other options, including writing. He’d lived in Denver for almost a decade, and seemed happy there, minus the fact that it was hard to meet girls and the girls he met online never wanted to meet in person (sigh, same story, different day). I wound up telling him that part of the work I do involves helping people write their dating profiles, and I felt like with some tweaks to his he might have more success.
Second honesty moment: While talking dating strategy, I literally said, “Dude, if what you want is to get laid, I’m fairly certain I can get you laid based on some simple changes to how you present yourself. You’ll get girls you’re more interested in who are more interested in you, and who are thus more likely to sleep with you.” Bryan asked how I knew I could do this, and I said, “Only because I’ve done it for other people.” Thankfully, he thought this was funny and charming, and not completely bizarre for a date to suggest (although we did discuss the implications of said conversation, which were that we probably weren’t going to have a long term relationship with one another, an actually sort of nice conversation to have out in the open).
We said our goodbyes, I piled into Huckleberry, and proceeded to get ungodly lost on my way home, with neither the GPS or my iPhone able to navigate me. So I did what any responsible adult does: I called my best friend, Angie, in California, and asked if she might have a moment to get me directions. She did.