I present: a story from the before times.
When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2020 my roommate and I popped a bottle of sparkly wine on a city bus (we were late to the party but oh well). We had only just decided at 8pm that evening: I put on a witchy dress, my roommate knew someone who knew someone. (It made for great conversation: so who do you know here? Um, my roommate’s friend’s boyfriend…?) I drank some spiked seltzer thinking it was just plain seltzer. I talked to a guy who was tall and asked me about books and touched me lightly on the shoulder.
I tried to wait until the moment was right but eventually we had to leave and tall boy was sitting on the couch with a few other dudes and the only way I was going to get his number was if I was willing to do it in front of an audience. And I knew the only way this wouldn’t be embarrassing was if I did it boldly: a performance of sorts. (Remember, I was drunk.) So I passed my phone to the boy and made a scene of asking. The audience grew. People came in from the back door curious about what was going on. This chic just asked T for his number. Hey you want my number too? I got my phone back and got out of there fast. We took a car home, got cajun fries at the bodega, I slept for fifteen minutes on the couch and then my roommate shook me awake: work. I had to go to work.
A few days later I texted him, skeptically. He probably just gave me his number because it would have been cruel to turn me down in front of all of those people. But, sure enough, he texted back. We went out the next night. I learned: he liked to buy books from the dollar rack at the strand, tattoos were his religion. Midway through the evening he smiled at me and said, the way you asked me out: that was the ballsiest thing I’ve ever seen. I was smitten. Half of being smitten is being seen.
After some bar hopping he walked me to the train and we kissed under the tracks. We’d realized during the evening: he was going out of town in two days for two weeks. I was going out of town in two weeks for sixteen days. See you in a month? He asked as I climbed the stairs to the train. Yeah I’d like that.
It was a small encounter. But it was significant to me. And January is a long, dark month and I waited. But no matter: when I came back he was gone.