A diner in Hell’s Kitchen isn’t usually the place one would expect a perfect first date to take place. And yet it was. There on 9th Avenue between 43rd and 44th I met a man that I had only texted with prior. And from the moment I laid eyes on him I couldn’t stop staring. He was unconventionally perfect, his hair was pristinely out of place, his sweater was fitted but revealing, his eyes were piercing but soft.
He smiled, I smirked. He spoke, I swooned. He laughed, I blushed. He told me of his life and his growing up, his job and his dreams. He had a burger, I had cake. There wasn’t one shred of pretense or a single awkward pause. When the conversation dipped, the eyes remained fixed. In one look – one singular look – he awakened feelings in me that I had long thought dead. He renewed boyhood lust and puppy love.
And my God, when the boy smiled…
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him today. In fact I haven’t been able to do much except only think about him. I try to play the game, to refrain from contacting him and telling him just what I feel, every single bit of every insane intense attraction I am experiencing. I try to play it cool, to remain calm, to pretend that every inch of my being isn’t screaming to be with him. Surely these are the baser of attractions. Surely these are the desires meant for the younger and ill-informed. Surely a man my age should know better. Surely I need to think with my mind and shut down my heart.
But I can’t. So I text him. And I tell him just what my mind says not to. I explain it all, put it all on the table, I acknowledge that it’s not rational and not cool and I know this isn’t the way the game is played. But I can’t stop. I can’t stop thinking about him. I tell him that I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I want tomorrow to include him. I know love at first sight is silly and I know that’s not what this is and I know that I don’t know one damn thing anymore. That’s the only thing I know.
And I wait. And the response doesn’t come.
Finally he says he’s busy, and that it just doesn't feel quite right. I can’t catch my breath. I sink into the chair, my mind spins, and I realize that we’re not at the same place; his feet are firmly planted on earth and I am floating somewhere in the stratosphere. I realize that what I believed was fate was just a one-sided blizzard of emotions, of irrational hopes built on the foolish childhood fantasy that posits love is possible after one chance encounter.
What was I thinking? How could I have been so stupid? Why did I let my heart get the best of me when I knew? I fucking knew! It made no sense and I knew it made no sense. Next time, Jon-Marc, next time shut down those feelings before they begin. Next time don’t let your heart lead. Next time be rational. Next time play the game. Next time don’t allow what you know isn’t real to guide what you know is. And what you know is that love doesn’t blossom from one date. That you know! Next time. Next time...
Then it hit me. It was irrational and it was insane and it was exactly the opposite of everything I know to be real. But it was real. It was as real as the air I breathe. For a brief moment I experienced every emotion I thought I had neatly buried for the sake of adulthood.
And it felt good. Hell, it felt fantastic. It was the stirring and the flying and the complete opposite of everything we’re told to feel. None of it made sense and that was the beauty of it. It’s not supposed to make sense. Love and lust and everything in between rarely make sense. Sometimes - just sometimes - we’re supposed to allow ourselves to experience what doesn’t make a shred of sense, what doesn’t fit into the neat little boxes in which we’re taught to conform. Sometimes running towards what doesn’t make sense at the expense of what does might not be the only choice we have but it is the only choice that's right. And sometimes it ends horribly or just not the way we envisioned. And sometimes that’s ok.
So the boy with the smile that melted my heart wasn’t ready to have mine melt his. And I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t hurt. But every second of the hurt is worth it for the knowledge that the indescribable something deep within still beats, that my ability to fall so irrationally and giddily in whatever it was I was falling in isn’t just the stuff of yesteryear. It was worth it. It was so worth it. And I’d do it all over again if I could. In fact I know I'll do it again. And again, too
Sometimes it’s necessary to not color outside the lines but instead throw out the whole damn coloring book altogether and , with broad brushstrokes, paint loudly and vividly in big, bold, bright letters on the wall “I AM HERE” Sometimes – just sometimes – it’s necessary to rip off the mask of indifference that society tells us to wear, the one that has us play grown up and feign aloof apathy. Sometimes we must scream from the rooftops the raw vulnerability that we have tamped down within for too long. Sometimes we're meant to lose all sense of control.