Swan Lake, a First Date

Everything begins from silence. But silence doesn’t reign, it’s only a pause, a rest in the symphony that allows the music to breathe.

There’s a thrum that echoes like the heartbeat of a li ving thing. A monster, a giant, an animal that purrs down the road until it’s called for. That’s really how the story begins. Taking one guided turn after another with my destination flashing on my stupid smart watch, right next to the time. Time was on my mind.

I told her I’d be there at 4, and I didn’t want her first impression of me to be of being late. And after two hours on the road I had spent time in my head. My minds eye painted the scene of our first meeting like some cheesy sixties film where my eye twinkles and we touch hands, feel sparks and move in to kiss because we have so much chemistry. In that play that unfolds in my mind I’d stop from kissing her and skillfully produce a thimble and she’d remember me from Neverland.

The play unfolding in my mind stopped as I got gas and took the final ten minutes to get to the house she was staying at. The neighborhood seemed on the nicer side of town, which meant my tux and shiny car didn’t feel as out of place as they had earlier on some of the detoured roads.

I found the house and sent a text, then waited. As the curtains closed on my mental play I knocked on the door and waited. This is the other play my mind wrote. The one where I meet her best friend and we talk. Small talk, people do that. I can do that. I fumbled a little. Spoke of some of the things I was proud of to a distracted audience of one. Her friend was cute, and definitely distracted. With my shiny sports car out front I was told that my date would have had a chance to sit in a Lamborghini had I come later. While the timer ticked in my head towards the dinner reservations I recognized that my car isn’t a Lamborghini.

The moment I waited for came suddenly. And all at once… she was there. This lady I’d been messaging walked into the room in elegant splendor and my world spun. You see, when you know someone virtually, then meet them in actuality it takes a second for these two images to blend together. Instead of the generous hug, we smiled and walked to the car.

This is what I’m good at. Opening her door. It’s a silly thing to be proud of, but I did it gratefully. With a short laugh and the gentle roar of the motor we began our first great adventure. Worlds spinning I looked into her eyes between traffic. Smiling and talking easily the car danced down the road. You don’t have to speed to soar and we were flying. Another sports car met us at the light, and even though they weren’t trying to break any records they made the dance a little sweeter but standing a dozen car lengths behind by the time we got up to speed.

What I was worried about, was that our chemistry would all be virtual. But with her fingers twining into mine the worry couldn’t keep up. When we pulled up to the high rise building in downtown Phoenix I had a magic moment. With the valet opening her door and treating us like royalty we walked into the monolithic building like movie stars.

I remember when I was a youth and heard about these rotating restaurants on the top of these concrete worlds and never imagining being able to go up there. It’s not my world, but I welcome the visit to it. Her hand fit in mine and we walked and talked. Never struggling with each other, feeling as natural as anyone around us who were celebrating many years of first dates. We laughed and talked. At first the elevator wouldn’t go, to the top, we were the perfect amount of early, but it didn’t feel like a hangup. I thought of other dates I’d been on where it might have been a moment of stress and awkwardness, but this was as natural as singing.

When I first went to Disneyland I felt every ounce of magic as if I’d inhaled it with all my might. Not because I, as an adult, appreciates magic, it was a little of that, but because I got to see the glowing eyes of my children, filled with wonder and awe. That’s how this rotating restaurant felt to me. Looking into her eyes as she smiled and took it in, I considered myself the luckiest guy right then to see that look of wonder and awe.

Was dinner amazing? Yes. Not because the chef had skill, not because the food I ordered stood out in any way. It was amazing because I watched her smile. We talked so naturally, and consumed the setting sun as it sparkled between the buildings at the top of that downtown world.

There’s chemistry, closeness and warmth, my favorite compliment is that someone is kind. And she was kind. She didn’t pull away from me as I put my arm around her in the glass elevator that brought us back to earth. In fact she leaned into me and looked up at me.  I felt unprepared. My big plan with the thimble wasn’t setup. It was in my pocket and there was no natural way to get it. As she moved in for the kiss I stepped back. Shocking myself as my fingers scrambled to find this little thing.

“Am I being denied?’ She said in shock. And I thought ‘oh no!’ She looked a little shocked, a tiny bit embarrassed, and perhaps confused. The doors opened and we stepped into the lobby as my fingers struck figurative gold. ‘Success!’ I thought. And, as gracefully as I could I moved up to her… feet sliding like a dancer as I held out her hand to me facing up. Then I placed the brass thimble into her palm. You know how things play out in your head. Graceful and smooth, elegant and well spoken. In real life I lack these gifts. Instead of quoting Peter Pan I stumbled over some words like a drunk mime and leaned in for a kiss, which wasn’t denied. But in that kiss I felt her smile and that was fuel to my own, plus there was a little glow from giving a gift that’s well received.

We walked hand in hand across the street to the symphony hall. I felt the pressure of that thimble and thought for a moment how she seemed to treasure it as if it had been a diamond.

‘I have the tickets.’ She said. Reading my mind as I had been reaching into my pocket with panic. Reminding me of the good part of being married in that moment when I wasn’t the only responsible adult who can make life better.

Timing was flawless. The venue was as impressive and beautiful as ever and we could nearly walk right in. I’ve been to that concert hall before, but never with seats like these. Standing there where we’d watch the show I was dumbfounded by the view. The orchestra close enough to touch and the stage was near enough to jump to.

Majesty and magic came together as the curtain rose. The beauty of the music, close enough to change the rhythm of your heart and strong enough to capture you in its flawless precision. I couldn’t get enough of it, of stolen kisses, of a stage full of dancers and a story that requires just enough imagination to keep up with.

This is the part of the night where fog and lighting come together in a starry eyed display of over saturated glowing hues. Everything flowed for the next two and a half hours. Music clanged around my skull as I got lost in moments streaming together.

Smiles and whispers, shared laughter and wonder as I once again basked in her wonder and joy. It was every good thing as, far too soon we were holding our hands against the dark in the heart of the city lights. The glow remained but the elegance faded as we raced to the car and another series of stolen moments alone.

It was a night I didn’t want to end, and I felt, as we neared where she was staying, that it wouldn’t be fair to end the night without an opportunity to practice a little more kissing. I felt out of practice and figured, given the opportunity, I needed to give it an honest try to do better. With casual conversation we agreed it was too good a spell to let slip away so easily and too nice a car to not drive to a nearby lake and count some stars.

As natural as breathing, and as comfortable as warmed up singing. We watched the stars, watched another parked car as a young couple seemed to break up, and we kissed once or twice holding onto each other. Grinning as she untied my stifling bow tie, and sharing our thoughts with a night that wouldn’t let the clock stop as time stood still.

With a final series of kisses goodbye my car again roared into the night after bringing her to her temporary home. I missed her already as I got lost on the detour that led me back to my house.

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