I Don't Know What it Is, February 19, 2014



Over the weekend my favorite film, “Broken English” aired on PBS. I had planned on going to bed early, but I stayed up late just to watch it. I like this film because it’s so on point for me. I’m a lonely, nearly 30-something girl living in New York City whose life experience is almost identical to the main character.  It’s summed up easily by a quote from her in my favorite scene. She’s just found out that a man she dated was in a relationship. She’s having lunch with her mother, she’s crying. “I feel like I’m doing something very wrong, I just don’t know what that is.”

Its ironic that I watched that scene Saturday night and smiled. I usually am that girl, but last Saturday I was feeling especially confident in a specific fellow. The second I moved in to my new place I ended my internet dating sabbatical and re-joined a dating site. He popped up as a match. We went to Harlem Public for ciders and beer. I laughed till my stomach muscles hurt and found myself very fond of this blonde character. We planned a second date a few days off from that. Jacob’s Pickles.

In my mind, relationships are like rooms, with walls and structure and most importantly, a key to open them. Most of my first dates are pretty awful. The conversation is formulaic, or worse, forced. But not with Mr. Blonde, no. With some people it feels like entering a very established room, you don’t have to begin at the beginning. You just start, it just works out. Unfortunately, like most men, this was all one sided, this was all just with me.

We went to Café Lalo after dinner, and I said to him quite excitedly how I’d taken a photograph outside of their circa 2004. “It was when I was obsessed with ‘You’ve Got Mail.’ It was filmed here, you know,” I said to him. We saw a movie and talked until around 4 am. I took a Boro taxi back to Washington Heights and fell asleep quite charmed.

The following weekend, I had drinks with L., my good, wise friend, at Bar Plieades.

“I know I sound very reserved,” I said, “but I like him much, much more than I am saying. I like that he’s never been out of the country before. I’m dying for someone to travel with and I’d love to show him places I love. I’m so used to dating really snobby guys, you tell them where you want to go and they’ve been there a hundred times. They just aren’t open,” I told her. “But I don’t like to get ahead of myself.” I already had a montage of good future moments filling my head: snuggling on the couch watching films, walking down the street holding hands, laughing over inside jokes.

“When did you last hear from him?” L. asked.

“Maybe earlier in the week,” I said, ignoring my own rules about men who take five days to get back to you. Read: they’re disinterested. I was knee deep in denial, drinking negroni’s like it was my job, being optimistic. One should always be suspicious of me when I’m optimistic.

Today at work, in the middle of one of those busy hour and a half stretches, a text from him came to my phone. I breathed a sigh of relief and looked up at the ceiling (what I do when I want to pray but time does not permit the words).

Well, it wasn’t good news.

Around 8:30 pm I walked into my neighborhood wine store. The selection is deplorable, nary a sangiovese. I grabbed the closest $6 bottle of Chilean red that was older than 2013.  

“I just got the ‘let’s be friends’ text message so I need some with high alcohol content,” I wanted to tell the clerk. I’d already cried on the 1 train. It couldn’t get worse.

Instead I just said “Debit,” and watched him jump back when he saw my birth year on my passport. “Yeah, everyone tells me I look young.”

Now I’m sitting on my couch. Gigantic Glass Number Two poured. I haven’t texted back yet. I don’t really know what to say. I am reminded of why I took a break in the first place. It’s too hard, the kitchen is too hot. I can’t dish it or, the other thing, either.