The First Date, Vol. 2

Diamonds. Virtually unbreakable. Not unlike my date. The jewelry store girl. Who knows what will happen next? I'm not sure it matters. But I'm grateful to have met her. And I've already grown because of it.

Diamonds. Virtually unbreakable. Not unlike my date. The jewelry store girl. Who knows what will happen next? I’m not sure it matters. But I’m grateful to have met her. And I’ve already grown because of it.

My shirt was untucked so she wouldn’t see the pleats.

I was running late from work and hadn’t had time to change.

I pulled into a parking space in front of the jewelry store where I had promised to pick her up 20 minutes earlier.

I hope she’s not too mad, I thought.

I beeped my horn for her to hurry. Applebee’s was probably going to be slamming.

She tried to tell me about her day at work, but I was only half listening while answering some text messages and driving at the same time.

I can only do so many things at once, lady!

Rod Stewart was blowing my mind on the radio and I turned him up so she would know to change the subject.

We got to Applebee’s and sat down right away. The Olive Garden next door was packing them in because of unlimited salad and breadsticks so we totally lucked out at the neighborhood grill and bar.

I invited her to order anything she wanted… so long as it was on the Two for $20 menu. Like a boss.

She texted one of her friends, probably telling her what a charmer I was.

I’m getting lucky tonight, baby.

<Insert vinyl record-screeching sound here.> C’mon now. Non-punctuality? Applebee’s? Rod Stewart!?!? You didn’t really believe that.

Only the untucked-shirt part of that story was true.

I arrived right when I said I would.

I sipped a sugar-free Red Bull because I didn’t want to yawn during our dinner conversation. I brought her a bottle of water, just in case. She appreciated it.

She’d had a tough day, she said. She manages a jewelry store owned by a man she calls her dad, but who isn’t her biological father. The vast majority of day-to-day responsibilities at the shop belong to her. Almost every day, she experiences all of the negatives of being a business owner without any of the financial perks. I bet it’s exhausting.

It took about a half hour to drive to the restaurant. We were a little early but were still able to get a table pretty quickly.

She likes sweet wines.

I prefer dry reds.

So, we ordered by the glass.

The conversation was effortless. I remember being curious what we would discuss. Wondering whether personal topics would be broached.

Her divorce was finalized only a month ago. And from a separation standpoint—she is three months behind me on the healing curve.

She’s an incredibly open person. Just puts it right out there. No walls. I’m learning to appreciate that more and more.

It’s amazing what you can learn about someone in five hours—the length of our time together. More on that later.

Dating as a Divorced Adult

The stark differences between 34-year-old me and 20-year-old me were on full display last night.

I seriously didn’t think about sex one time. Okayyyy. Maybe once. But only because I have a man brain and she mentioned a couple tattoos.

Honestly, there was zero sexual tension as there would have been several years ago.

Maybe because we’re both still reeling from our marriages ending.

Maybe because it felt foreign to be sitting in a dimly lit restaurant with a relative stranger.

Maybe because we didn’t drink enough.

Maybe because we consumed 89,000 calories.

Maybe because she thought I was stupid and ugly, but faked it well.

Not thinking about sex is a wonderful thing. It helps you focus on substance. On listening.

And you are less anxious as a result. No one likes anxiety.

On the flipside, I was worried about feeling pressure because the stakes are so much higher now as an adult. At least on paper.

When you’re young and a date goes bad? Who cares?

I could have two more the next day!

When you’re Divorced Single-Dad Guy who knows approximately ZERO single people?

The field narrows.

So, it’s like: OMG! OMG! I gotta be amazing! Brilliant! Funny! Sexy! Skinnier! Richer! Stronger! Braver! Taller!

Because if I don’t, maybe it will be another seven months before I meet an attractive available woman to share dinner with.

When you’re young, you have your entire life ahead of you. You’re only worried about which club or pub or keg party you’re going to attend this weekend.

When you’re me?

You wonder how many weeks it will be before you’re even able to coordinate schedules to be in the same place at the same time again.

She has a very hectic professional and personal schedule.

I have my son half the time.

So, even if she wants to see me again—and I am inclined to ask—it could seriously be, like, January the next time we’re both available.

But maybe I’m just exaggerating. I totally do that sometimes.

A New Kind of Tough

This woman is a brand of tough that would take me a long time to fully understand.

Hers is a story filled with tragedy and heartache. And you only know it because she’s not afraid of telling you who she is.

She’s been through so much shit that she doesn’t know shame. She doesn’t know fear.

I’m whining about divorce all the time.

And divorce is just barely sneaking into the Top 10 of her Shitty Things That Have Happened to Me list.

I hesitate to share her story, even though three times she has told me to write whatever I wanted.

But I also want to give you a taste of who I spent five hours with last night. Because so much of it surprised me. That pleasant, smiling, pretty girl behind the counter of a family owned jeweler? How could she have baggage? How could she be tainted by all the shit?

Here’s how:

Her mother abandoned her, leaving a 21-year-old father to raise a baby daughter alone.

Her father loved and cherished her. He painted. Made crafts for his daughter. Took her fishing. Loved music. Metallica. Aerosmith.

But we all have demons.

My date’s father was a drinker. Like my dad, in a lot of ways. Because he never had any of the problems commonly associated with alcoholism. He went to work. Maintained healthy relationships. Stayed out of trouble. No violence or sexual misconduct or anything like that.

He just drank.

My date recalled stories growing up in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with her dad.

“I went for the coffee and donuts,” she said.

Sometimes, her father’s hands would shake from withdraw symptoms, so they would only fill his coffee cup a small amount to avoid spilling.

A total goofball, his adoring daughter called him.

Her father was killed in a car accident when she was 12.

Mom’s been gone forever. And then the person who matters most is gone, too. Out of nowhere.

My chest tightened as I started to see my date for who she was. As I started to realize the depths of trauma and tragedy that have touched her.

She started tearing up. She almost never does that, she said.

The waitress showed up right then. I hoped she didn’t think I made my date cry.

She regrouped quickly. Told me happier stories about her father’s art. She has one of the last paintings he ever made. Showed me a photo of it. A small boat nestled up against a palm-treed peninsula or island. Calm waters off on the horizon. I liked it.

She also lost a best friend unexpectedly. I don’t know the details. I just know she’s an only child like me and keeps her best friends close. Which makes it extra brutal, all that she’s endured.

By the time her failed marriage came up, I had a healthy dose of perspective.

A healthy dose of gratitude.

And an inkling of a clue as to the kind of woman I was with.

A special one.

Whatever Comes Next

She likes football.

And playing card games.

And non-traditional family.

She likes making crafts—really creative things with a needle and thread.

And designing jewelry.

And music.

She wants to learn how to play guitar to honor her father. She worries about her small hands, though.

She has reconnected with her biological grandmother who she didn’t know growing up. They sew together now, and have built a loyal and loving grandmother-granddaughter relationship.

She likes the number 13. I always have, too. We joked about how shitty 2013 was for us despite our affinity for those digits.

I have absolutely no idea what my future is with this woman.

Perhaps friendship.

Perhaps nothing.

Perhaps something.

I don’t know that it matters. Which was my favorite part of going on my first date in 14 years.

Because I don’t care what happens next. Whatever happens next will happen.

The world will keep spinning.

The sun will rise and set.

The clocks will keep reminding us that yesterday is yesterday, we can’t know what tomorrow will bring and that we only have right now.

And today I choose gratitude.

Because someone volunteered to share a moment with me.

Because someone trusted me enough to share their deepest wounds and vulnerabilities.

Because someone proved to me that no matter what happens next, there is life after divorce, there is life after death, there is as much life as we choose to live.

This too shall pass.

I’m inspired by her perseverance. By her courage. By her fearlessness.

I’m inspired by her ability to love after all of the, just, totally epic pile of shit she has endured since forever.

I’m inspired by her faith. That her spirit endures. That she wants to discover more, and be generous, and love her friends and family.

The world tried to break her.

But she wakes up every day, and says: “Not today, bitch.”

I can use a little more of that in my life.

And, platonic or otherwise, I hope to do that very thing.

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51 thoughts on “The First Date, Vol. 2

  1. David says:

    OK, now I’m smiling … that’s cool, really cool. Good things happen!

    Like

  2. Aw, Matt. I’m so happy she gave you the okay to write about the date because shit, man-I was dying to know.

    When I first started reading, I was like WHO IN THE HOLY WORLD OF GOD IS WRITING THIS POST? Hahah I can’t believe I believed you. But I did. You clever lad.

    So glad you guys had a great time. One small step for man, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MBTTTR. Bam.

    Like

  3. gillandrews says:

    I would say it went great :)

    Like

  4. AE says:

    Good for you. Glad the date went well!

    Like

  5. Super lovely Matt. ‘This too shall pass’ one of my favourites. Yay, first date rocked!
    Ps I was wondering who had hacked your blog in that first section.

    Like

  6. This totally caught me by surprise and has me tearing up. This is beautiful. You never know what other people have been through in their lives. I am sure she would/will feel honored by what you wrote. And there HAS to be a second date, right?!??

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Second date? I’ll find out some day. I don’t see how she can be ready to “date.” So I try not to think about it like that.

      The story you wrote–the awesome story you wrote–about those tough times growing up with back issues… that’s how it was.

      Just that reminder that everyone has a story. Everyone. They deserve to be told too. Because they can make our lives better if we let them.

      Thank you for the note!

      Like

  7. Audrey says:

    I’m really happy and excited for you. It sounds like the date went really well. Keeping my fingers crossed for the two of you.

    Like

  8. phoenixasubbie says:

    I was dying to hear the news, started reading…..wtf???? Oh thank God :-)
    Even if nothing else, she put your life and problems in perspective. Xx

    Like

  9. The way you write of her is lovely! She sounds like someone I would love to know! And “not today Bitch” is fabulous!

    Like

  10. jessiesgirl says:

    So glad you not only survived, but actually enjoyed, your first date! I’m proud of you for putting yourself out there again. I know how tough it can be.

    And you didn’t fool me for a second with that intro. As soon as I saw the word “pleats” I knew you were messing with us! Rod Stewart, Applebee’s, and the texting were nice touches, though! ;-)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I smiled at this. Because if that’s true, then you really do sort of know me. And that’s kind of an awesome thing.

      It was a nice evening. Thank you for your support.

      Like

  11. Lk says:

    Wow- you got me at first! What a lovely night! I’m so happy for you and her! She sounds amazing.
    Here’s hoping for a second date!

    Like

  12. bernasvibe says:

    @..”You wonder how many weeks it will be before you’re even able to coordinate schedules to be in the same place at the same time again.

    She has a very hectic professional and personal schedule… & @..”Second date? I’ll find out some day. I don’t see how she can be ready to “date.” So I try not to think about it like that. ..”

    >>Yay! Finally someone all grown UP and over 30ish; who is really looking at dating for what it is; dating..Doesn’t mean that one date or even a couple dates is heading right into marriage..Your outlook seems very mature and healthy. Real talk for real! Personally? I think it takes a while after divorce to actually be really, really ready (and emotionally available) to date someone new..Everyone is different though that is just my take on it..From my experience..Heck, I was still in love with my exhusband for almost 6 years after divorce..Tends to happen when one divorces someone they’re in love with(though thankfully now, years later, we’re very good friends & great parenting partners)

    I’m glad you wrote about your first date..And who knows? Could wind up being good for one another & friends..These things take time..But it is also my belief long term marriages begin as friends..I’ve yet to blog on my first & second dates after a long hiatus of not-dating..But I’m closer to blogging it than I was a week ago..Sort of lol, lol! When did we all become so dang BUSY just keeping up with our own schedules??? Anyways this is highly re-bloggable…Keep us posted for sure!

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you for reblogging the post. I don’t know that I have a wise or mature grasp on dating. I just want to be honest with people and not hurt them. In time, I’m bound to meet someone who makes sense.

      Appreciate you following along and commenting. Thank you so much.

      Like

      • bernasvibe says:

        No thanks necessary..Reading of your experiences validates mine; in a way. What I’ve learned along the way in my life journey? It is those of us who think we don’t have a “grasp” on things? That really have it most of all..And? 50 really is the best age lol, lol! Anyways, I digress..I’ll pop in from time to time to see what new experiences you’ve gotten into..I dig & crave honesty too. Good luck & have FUN..We do only get one shot at this Life

        Like

  13. bernasvibe says:

    Reblogged this on Berna's Vibe~The Way I See IT and commented:
    Very all grown UP & realistic outlook on a first date after divorce..2 thumbs UP

    Like

  14. Caitlin May says:

    I figured you out at “honked the horn.” I’m a smart one. Loved this post!

    Like

  15. Sounds like it went really well!!! I hope there is a date #2. Keep smiling :)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Time will tell. No matter what, it was nice to break the seal and feel capable of sitting at dinner with someone else. Because even that seems crazy until you do it.

      Appreciate you reading. Thank you for this note. I’m going to try to smile no matter what happens.

      Like

  16. YES!! I don’t know why I’m so stoked for you but I am. Actually I do know why it’s because you represent what so many of us guys are dealing with. The fear, doubt, hope, anger and all those emotions a divorce brings. I’ve been thinking about when my times comes what it will be like. I mean I’ve been with the same person for 20 years!! Count that up, 20 damn years..wow I can’t even believe that. We married young so I still have good time in me :)

    What I was thinking though is I think so much now about divorce and the pain I just don’t know if I want to talk about that with a first date. I want to just talk about normal stuff like the weather, beer and..I guess I have no idea what to talk about when that time comes.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I understand. So much. I didn’t know what we’d talk about. She made it easy because she’s incredibly easy to talk to. About the serious and non-serious stuff. It’s just strange looking at someone new on the other side of the table.

      I wish you well in those endeavors. Twenty years. Goodness.

      I’m so sorry.

      Like

  17. debra colby says:

    Sounds like it went well, Matt. Good for you! But, I’m inclined to say, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Keep dating. You’ve just recently become single, please do not jump into things. Go out with her again, second and third dates are more telling than the first. She’s been recently hurt as well. If I may, take a minute and read my blog…Rebound Relationships. :D

    Like

    • Matt says:

      You may!

      Thank you. I don’t know whether I’ll see her again or not. Divorce makes everything a lot different than just two regular single people going out.

      We’ll see.

      It was a big step just having an actual date. Who knows when the next one might be. Or with whom.

      Like

  18. debra colby says:

    It is a big step…in fact…it’s freakin’ huge! Congrats on taking it. :D

    Like

  19. […] jewelry store girl texted me a Merry Christmas note. She doesn’t write me very often, so it was […]

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  20. […] went on my first date! (My first real date. Someone I met in real life.) It was also my only date. I can’t impress upon […]

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  21. […] The jewelry store girl. My first date from four months ago. […]

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  22. […] I met the jewelry store girl. She was my first date. It was a big […]

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  23. Aspen'sProudMama says:

    I know this was a long time ago, but had to add, I knew it wasn’t right when you were 20 minutes late. Then all the other things especially the not wanting to listen to her, I was like “that would never happen”. I was happy to see it was the jewelry store lady. I’m glad you had a nice time, you deserve that and so much more.

    Also, sorry to hear about your friend, hopefully, she will realize it was unintentional and at least open the lines of communication.

    Like

  24. Terri says:

    wow, just…wow. I will read the rest as I come across it, but for now I just want to feel the way this makes me feel.

    Like

  25. “not today bitch!” Love iit!! 😃 ❤ xx

    Like

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