Monday, August 5, 2013

Then and Now 73 - First Date

Then and Now 73 - First Date
Time: Mid-2007, single and at my apartment.

For the sake of this Then and Now, I'm going to refer to my wife as my girlfriend.

This is the third transition period of my life, from my life as a single man with a respectable bank account and his own apartment, to a dating man with a sizeable amount of money, an excellent sex life, and more free time and activities to enjoy than I knew what to do with.

My girlfriend and I first met over the internet, as one of many girls (and some guys) who had written to my internet profile. From what she has told me, she had no intention of dating me when we first met up together; she was just interested in getting to know some people from abroad and practicing her English skill.

After I got her email and we set up a time to meet, I had a very long day of work to get through. It was a Friday, one of my worst and busiest times of the week, because after my ten hour shift was done, I had another three or four hours of teaching to do the next morning at another school. It's a common feeling for anybody in the workforce: two shifts are spaced so close to one another, that when starting the second shift, it feels like you never left work. Because of that, I didn't sleep on Friday night. I went home at around 10:00, did my showering and all that, then spent the next nine hours just playing video games in my apartment. When the sun's rays came through the cracks in my door, I showered and went directly to my next shift of work, and got through it as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, I underestimated my ability to counteract the lack of sleep, so when I went to the train/bus/subway station to meet up with my girlfriend, I was exhausted. My vision faded in and out, I was off my game, and I felt a bit too giggly (when I wasn't spaced out). I met her near a restaurant in the station, and a friend was with her. But as soon as I arrived and introduced myself to the two of them, her friend left, and my girlfriend and I went to a coffee shop to hang out for a while.

We talked about the history of her country, its leaders, its culture, things like that. The strangest part was when we discussed one of their folk villain/heroes, but since the tale involved incest, I'll refrain from going into detail. All in all, I felt that I wasn't as good a friend as I could have been, and fully expected this girl to make this our last meeting. But surprisingly enough, she asked to hang out again, so we did.

The next time we met was a week later to go eat and see Invasion. I was still in the financial red at that point, so I had to sheepishly have her pay for the food and the tickets, but she assured me it wasn't a problem. It was a fun time, and she impressed me by saying how she liked the look of the cars in the movie. We went to our separate homes as soon as it was over, but not before she gave me a sudden shoulder massage in the subway station.

And so we come to the day of our first date, just another week or two later. It didn't start out that way; she just wanted to take me to a tourist spot with some historical sights, that's it. We took the subway all the way up to the tourist spot, and went to get lunch at McDonald's. She seemed very nervous to be going there, and when I asked her why, she told me that she wanted to go somewhere more local and authentic to show me what her country had to offer. I was fine with it, of course; delicious food is delicious food.

When lunch was done, we hopped a bus to an abandoned fort that was converted into a modern day museum. Everything in there was as it was when the fort was first built: there were cannons on the parapets, the garden inside was still in great shape, and even the bedrooms were still kept (old beds, desks, books and all) in the same way as before. I took quite a few pictures of the place, and even some of her. In every picture, she had this deer-in-the-headlights look to her, because she was very nervous for some reason.

We passed by a tour group of English speakers, so I kind of dragged my girlfriend over to them to say hello. After our introductions and a bit of small talk, they moved on, so I got my girlfriend and I to shadow them so I could translate some of the things they were saying, and so she could understand better. After that, we hung around for an hour or so, taking pictures and looking around the historic landmark, until it was just about time to head back. After a quick bus trip, we were back on the subway... and this was where she fell for me.

It wasn't for a good reason at all, either. The subject of my chubby friend asking me to date her came up, and when my girlfriend asked if I would do it, I said no. I explained that barring a very rare physical problem or disease, people were fat because they were either lazy or had poor self control. And fat people tended to be not only out of control with their eating habits, but with their emotions as well; almost every fat person I had met was either overly happy to mask the sadness inside, or terminally depressed because of their condition. For the record, I was the latter for about two or three years in college.

Because of that, while I would certainly be friends with any fat person (and even go exercising with them if they wanted help with their weight), I wouldn't want to become a fat girl's emotional caretaker as her boyfriend. I was too afraid that one or both of us would get hurt in that kind of relationship.

Just like with Nell, this rude statement was met with positive feedback, even though I didn't think this way about fat girls only because I was concerned about their feelings, but also because I didn't find them physically attractive. I even told my girlfriend this. Still, she focused more on the former reason, saying I was a very good guy who cared about the feelings of others, and left my more shallow reason by the wayside. In any event, that's what caused her to fall for me: just some random discussion about overweight girls.

When we got back to my apartment, I showed her around my spartan place with very little furniture, played a couple of her favorite songs on Guitar Hero, showed off a couple of pictures from my travels... then we made out for about an hour.

And with that, she went home. Things only got heavier and more interesting between us as time passed, and at that moment, when she officially became my girlfriend, I was filled with a kind of dread. Was she going to be the only girl I dated abroad? Was she the one? Were my traveling days over? If I had to break up with her, could I do it in such a way that I wouldn't hurt her? I didn't follow these thoughts through enough to the source, that marriage is a bad idea and I should have avoided it and pregnancy at all costs. I'm paying for that mistake now.

But at the time, even as I was stricken with a sense of confusion and fear at what was going to happen with my girlfriend, I was a whirlwind of several other emotions. I was happy that I was in a relationship. I was eager to know where it was all going. I was excited to be with someone so kind, funny, smart, cute and adventurous. I was unsure of what would happen in the coming days and weeks, and that made me even more excited. I felt that life still had surprises in store for me, even after all I had experienced. Whatever happened, things were going to get more interesting from that point on.

Three months later, I would be eating those words. But at least, at that time, I was happy.

As for today...

I woke up at 5:00.
I surfed the net.
I played video games with my son.
I took him to school, then I went home.
I played video games.
I ate lunch.
I took a nap.
I woke up.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I did the dishes.
I started a load of laundry.
I played video games.
I hung up wet laundry.
I slept.

No comments:

Post a Comment