Dater X: Shaking Off The Dry Spell

A wise woman—OK, Sharon Stone—once said, “Love is like the ocean. Sometimes the tide is in and sometimes the tide is out, and sometimes it’s like the frigging Mojave. Fortunately, I like the desert. I’m a desert flower.”

For the past two months, ever since The Juggler faded out, I have been hiking through the Mojave, stopping every once in a while to shake the sand out of my shoes.

When I mumbled a sentence, and he didn’t hear what I’d said, he put his hand on the small of my back and leaned in closer. The whoosh from his touch felt like a chain of dominoes running up my spine.

Along the way, there have been some mirages—two guys I dated simultaneously, neither of whom I was that into, Brown Eyes, who I thought could have potential until our awkward first date, and Faux Parrot, who got my number on Halloween but failed to actually call. Sigh. But, like Sharon, instead of thinking of myself as lost in the desert without any hope of ever finding water, I’ve tried to stay positive and make my dry spell about self-improvement: I rewrote my single story and quit smoking.

And now, thank goodness, it feels like my desert wandering may be over. This week, I think I got my groove back.

The tide began to change Friday night, at a birthday party for Linda, who you may remember as my friend who always tells me to “put yourself out there” after I’ve just described my fruitless out-there efforts. After a long day at work, I debated canceling. While I love Linda, since she’s big into being half of a couple, all her friends come in pairs—which can be a tad bit frustrating when you’re the lone single person. But I decided to press on and go.

When Linda buzzed me up to the party, I felt like I’d made the wrong decision. Huddled around the guacamole and chips were three couples: Linda and her husband, Linda’s sister and her husband, and a twosome I’d never met before. The guy in this third twosome was exactly my type—tall and bald, with a slim-fitting plaid shirt that showed a hot body underneath. Of course he’s taken, I thought. No, stay positive. It doesn’t matter if it’s just couples tonight; you can have fun talking to anyone. Just enjoy yourself.

As I looked around the apartment, I noticed a gorgeous photograph hanging over the couch. It was a landscape of one of my favorite New York City parks. In the foreground, an eccentric man—one I’d seen many times before—walked a cat on a leash. “This is new. Right, Linda?” I asked. “I love it.”

“I actually took that,” said the guy in the plaid shirt, stepping toward me. “It’s from a series I did of my favorite New York characters.”

“I run into that guy all the time!” I exclaimed.

To my dismay, his girlfriend came over to join the conversation. “This is Sarah,” said Shutterbug, introducing her. “We’re old friends from middle school. We share a dark room now.”

Hallelujah, I thought. They’re not actually a couple!

As more guests arrived at the party, Shutterbug and I stood in the corner, talking about photography, music, and our Halloween costumes. An hour later, he checked his watch. “Oh no, I have to run—I have an event to shoot tonight,” he said slipping me his business card. “I had a great time. Sorry I have to cut the evening short.”

As he walked out the door, I felt giddy. For the first time in forever, the world seemed full of romantic possibility. It was the reminder I needed that you can meet someone interesting, even in a circumstance that seems hopeless. And it was an even better reminder that the world isn’t all happy couples … and then me. Sometimes it just appears that way.

As the night wore on, I talked to old friends, enjoyed delicious cocktails, and danced my way through the apartment. And before I knew it, I was rapt in a conversation with another guy. This one was not at all my type—he was clean-cut and a real estate broker. It’s the kind of stable, numbers-oriented profession many women like, but that I tend to avoid in favor of creative types. Still, there was something about his warm, easy smile that just made me feel good.

Smiley Face and I sat down on the couch and stayed there for what felt like hours, talking about our jobs, new music we liked, and places we wanted to travel to. It was one of those glorious conversations where the tangents sprawled in every direction like the branches of a tree. We talked about the camps we went to as children and the most memorable moments we’d had in New York City in recent years. My cheeks began to hurt from smiling so much.

When I mumbled a sentence, and he didn’t hear what I’d said, he put his hand on the small of my back and leaned in closer. The whoosh from his touch felt like a chain of dominoes running up my spine.

As I walked into the kitchen to get a fresh drink, I noticed that the clock was flashing 1:30 a.m. I returned to Smiley Face on the couch. “I should really get going,” I said. “It’s late.”

“I’ll walk out with you,” he replied.

Yes! I thought. It is on.

In the elevator, both leaning against the wall facing each other, he leaned in and kissed me. It was a hot kiss—soft and playful, with a lot of push and pull. When the elevator stopped on the fifth floor and an old woman hobbled in, we stopped making out and he grabbed my hand. Safely outside of the building, on the sidewalk, we kissed again. “Can I get your phone number?” he asked before we went our separate directions.

Who knows if either of these encounters will turn into a relationship. Who knows if I’ll even see or hear from either of these guys again. But I hope I do, especially Smiley Face. And the point here isn’t even that I met two potential suitors. The point is that I feel different. Invigorated. Excited to see what happens next. If either of them is a green zebra, the story will surely continue from here. And if it doesn’t, I feel confident that it will with someone else who is just around the corner.