We were having a conversation about dating. Not each other. He is too young for me, and I am too old for him, so there was never any question there of what was going on between us. But we liked each other when we met, and now we are friends. Even after I almost accidentally hit him with my car one night.
“I think I want to try dating for real,” I said. “I really do want to meet someone now.”
“Last time we spoke you didn’t want to,” he said. “What changed?”
“I got invited to be a guest at this fancy fundraiser in December. It’s out of town and they’re putting me up in a hotel and it just sounded like a thing that it would be fun to bring a date to. And December seemed far enough away that I might actually meet someone by then.” I thought about it a little longer. “But also there’s just a lot of good stuff going on in my life. And I am happy! I am in this really lovely place and it would be fun to share it with someone. Is that a weird reason?”
And he said, “It’s not at all weird. Life can seem…unvalidated when you’re alone.”
But that wasn’t it. I don’t want validation, or I don’t need it, anyway. I am a self-validation machine, trust me.
I just thought it would be fun to have someone along for the ride. I mean I guess I can just bring Rosie as my date, too. Rosie loves a good cocktail party as much as I do. (That’s like half our friendship right there.) But obviously something much bigger is going on with me than just plotting one fun night.
I told my friend about this man I had made out with recently who was a sort of secret smoker. He hadn’t smoked the entire evening, but then when we kissed at the end of the night I could smell it on him, on the skin between his upper lip and his nose. “Oh, you’re a smoker,” I whispered between kisses.
He pulled back. “How did you know?”
“I could smell it on you,” I said, and then I touched him on the spot beneath his nose. “Right there.” I couldn’t help myself.
“I probably ruined it right then,” I said to my friend. It is true that I am always ruining everything with my keen observational skills. Nancy Drew never got laid.
“You probably did,” he said.
Of course, I would never want to date a smoker anyway. That’s really the point, right? And neither would Nancy Drew.
Still, I am optimistic. I’ve just been experiencing this unfamiliar, but extremely pleasant floating feeling lately. It feels bigger than myself, big enough that there’s room for another person within it, and I can’t say I always feel that way. And maybe it means there’s just more room for friends. But I hold a new openness lately. It is a vivid sensation, nearly physical.
Do you know what I mean? Do you feel that way too?