I'm almost embarrassed to admit that, up until a few days ago, I had not been on a first date in about 13 years. I met my shark my senior year of high school and married him a year after graduation and we had two lovely angel fish shortly after that. Now we are going through a divorce that was supposed to be amicable, but has turned blood thirsty.
While my shark and I were together, I swam in a very small pond. Thousands of miles away from my family, friends, and home waters. And while I loved my shark with all my heart, without the balance of having other fish to swim with, I lost a part of myself.
Now I am finding it again. But it took a kick in the butt to get me going.
I met the clown fish on one of my dating websites. His opening line to me was "you have the nerdiest smile I have ever seen. I like it." Really wasn't sure how to take that so responded that I thought I was offended. His reply, "don't worry. It will pass."
In all honesty, I was ready to write this one off as a jerk. But then, he wrote me again. And again. And eventually I found myself writing back and laughing at the things he had to say. Looking back, his opening line did get my attention.
Eventually he asked for my number. This was enough to set off a panic attack. Did I really want to talk to these people on the phone? Was I ready for this? Was I in over my head? So I put him off. He was persistent. We started instant messaging.
I have to say I love instant messenger. I don't have to ask the person to hold on every time one of my angel fish is demanding my attention. I don't have to lower my voice to the point of whispers to keep what I'm saying from being overheard. There are no awkward silences. And I can read over what I want to say before hitting send, giving me editing options.
As I got to know him, I discovered he had a great sense of humor and liked to tease. We talked about family, work, the dating site we met on. Eventually, he asked me why I was afraid to give him my number. I tried to play off like I was being cautious, not scared. He asked me if I was actually looking for a relationship. That made me think. What was I looking for? Did I even know. And I told him as much. Something about the tone of the conversation at that point made my defense mechanism kick in. You know, the one that urges you to leave before you can be left. I told him I didn't want to waste his time and no hard feelings.
He laughed at me.
Laughed at me! I wasn't sure if I should be offended (again), relieved, or amused. Maybe a combination of all of the above. He said that even though he had not yet met the love of his life, he'd made some good friends from the dating site. He liked my sense of humor and I could carry on a decent conversation, so he didn't feel like time had been wasted.
The things he said bounced around in my head all that night and into the next day. When I got home from work, I had a trip to get ready for, but took the time to send him a message. First, I called him a pain in the ass for getting into my head. Then I gave him my number.
He called while I was driving to the airport. He sounded totally surprised that I'd given him my number, but we had a great conversation. We talked on and off until I had to get on the plane. Then again when I landed. And again when I got to my hotel.
The next day I had divorce court. It was the first time I'd seen my shark in 6 months. My heart was pounding in my throat when he walked in. Just then, my purse vibrated. The clown fish had sent me a text wishing me good morning and good luck in court. The timing couldn't have been better and I actually smiled.
Court was a disaster. I called the clown fish on my way back to the airport to come home. He listened and helped me gain some perspective. Court was much worse in my head than it was in reality.
Since he lived near the airport, he asked if I'd like to have coffee or a drink when I landed. This was another huge step for me. My first first date since my senior year in high school. But, I'd already gone this far, so I told him I would call him when I landed and we'd go from there.
Thinking about going out with him largely distracted me from my anxiety, both about court and the flight (I hate to fly). When I called him from the airport, he asked if dinner would be okay and we agreed to meet at a Mexican restaurant right off the highway. He gave me a hug when I arrived. We were both exhausted so agreed to keep dinner short. We had a great conversation. He was a perfect gentleman.
However, having just watched the movie, He's Just Not That Into You, I was picking up on that vibe. And surprisingly, that was okay. While I wouldn't have minded going out with him again, it wasn't the end of the world that there was no huge spark. In fact, he was the kind of fish I could get to be pretty good friends with. And he was a great first first date.
We still talk on the phone from time to time. He still makes me laugh. And more importantly, he gave me the courage to take a chance again. Not every date has to lead to a second. Not every guy has to be Mr. Right. And it never hurts to have more friends.