Strangely, I’m almost as nervous writing this as I was as it was happening.
I had a date last night. Well, anyway, I think I had a date last night. It kind of felt like a date, not that I can be counted on, reliably, to say what a date feels like. I don’t know if he felt like it was a date. Maybe I just met a friend for dinner… I think it was a date… A nice date.
There is a gentleman, Gene, that I have been acquainted with through various forms of social media for close to two years, I would say. We became acquainted on Twitter and struck up a friendly banter. He started reading my blog and responding to what he saw directly on twitter and eventually we began e-mailing each other.
Gene is a very kind man and he made a great impression on me. About 18 months ago, I had a dream in which he played a prominent (though relatively innocent role) and I tweeted about dreaming about my “twitter crush”. This resulted in a series of e-mails between us in which it was clear that we were both interested in knowing the other better. The problem is, we are “geographically undesirable” (He lives in San Diego, I live in Oakland, approximately 500 miles apart) and, both of us being practically minded people, a long distance relationship is simply not in the cards. But we made it clear that if ever and whenever we were in each others back yards we should get together for dinner or coffee or something.
This week-end his nephew is participating in a debate tournament at UC Berkeley and Gene made a point of being here early enough to spend some time with me before getting wrapped up in his family stuff. When he told me he was coming this way, I was really excited. I wanted to see him. I wanted to spend some time with him and get to know him better. Our relationship has been a little one-sided in that he reads my blog, but he doesn’t write one and he’s very private with the stuff he posts on Twitter and Facebook. I was excited about the prospect of getting his undivided attention and grilling him on all the things I didn’t know about him.
But as the weeks passed and the time drew nearer, I became more and more nervous. I wanted to meet him, but what if he wasn’t what I was expecting? What if I wasn’t what he was expecting? What if I had misjudged him? What if he wanted something from me that I wasn’t ready to give? Was I ready? Did I want to be ready? Would we? Wouldn’t we? What would I do if it… ahem, came up? I went back and forth on that and to be honest, I never really arrived at a conclusion. I don’t know what I would have done if I was faced with that decision last night. Fortunately, I wasn’t, and I think it’s for the best.
The truth is, Gene was a perfect gentleman. He was almost everything I thought he would be, and in the ways that he was different, he was better.
We were both nervous. We decided to meet for a drink before dinner and to be perfectly honest, I was shaking like a leaf (whatever that means.) Stupidly, I wondered if I would recognize him when I saw him, but the minute I walked in the door, I knew him. It was comforting to know that he had been as nervous as I was– well, maybe not as nervous, but he was nervous. We had a glass of wine at the bar and talked comfortably for a little while. And then were seated and had dinner. It was a fascinating experience to be able to talk so comfortably and freely with someone you’ve never been face to face with, but I realized we really already knew each other. Certainly more than I thought we did.
After dinner, we shared a piece of cheesecake (really the one inevitable outcome of the evening) and then we walked along the boardwalk for a little while as we talked.
It was oddly hard to say good-bye, though it was time and had to be done. I can’t speak for Gene, but for me, it was that much more disappointing, knowing that while we’ll continue to be friends and hopefully grow closer now that we’re “real” and not just words in a box, there’s still so much distance between us.