January had played her usual tricks on the Bay Area again, coming in all sunshine and beach-weather before making a sharp turn toward pure winter. I hadn’t dressed appropriately for the chilly air, wearing a striped circle skirt and wingtipped boots. Brian noticed my arms balling up tighter and tighter against my chest and he reached out to put his arm around me.
I froze for the briefest of seconds.
The fact was, Brian was amazing. From crooning in the library to keeping up his end of the witty-banter brigade to being willing to go outside of his comfort zone, he’d caught my attention.
Mixed into that attention was the fact that my wounds from Adam and Utah still occasionally wept in spite of their stitches. I wasn’t sure I was ready to let someone else in for fear the scar they could leave. Even someone attention grabbing. With glasses. And tall. Who liked to run and had smart things to say about social issues and didn’t kick puppies.
Admittedly, there were other facts. Like the one where my life still revolving around writing a blog about my dating adventures. And the one where even when I’d wrapped up writing about 50 first dates, there would be a PR push for the documentary on the blog’s heels. My fear was that it might not feel so cool to be dating the 50 dates girl (how does Neil Strauss do it?! Pick up and sleep with women, write and talk about it, and still is engaged?).
Of course, another fact was that I might wind up hurting Brian. Engaging with any other human, especially in the dating setting, means people hurting each other is inevitable (in one way or another) and he may very well be the one getting hurt. As I’d let more guys down in three months than I had in my entire life for a variety of reasons, I wasn’t sure I felt ready to do that to another person.
And another fact. Hard as it was to admit this to myself, part of me wondered about how my final story would sound if I wound up with a local instead of Mr. USA.
And what about the kidney situation?! When was I supposed to mention that?
All this and more – like swirly thoughts of wanting to know Brian better and deeper, to see the world through his eyes, know how much cream he wanted in his coffee – were racing through my mind as Brian’s arm encircled my shoulders.
And that’s when I realized something else. One heck of a lot of those facts didn’t matter.* People asked me all the time what the biggest takeaway from 50/50 was, and truth be told, much of what the road trip taught me was it’s in my best interests to do what is best for me, not anyone else. So long as I’m being genuine, honest, and kind, best for me actually is best for everyone. It tends to work this way for most people.
I leaned into Brian. It was date one, and all felt for the best.
*Facts that did matter included the glasses. Give me a guy with glasses any day!