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Missed Connections: A Bay Area Tinder Tale

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I had found him online.

He was a kooky sketch comedian, and he maintained an incredibly honest, introspective blog littered with cultural references I loved. He was beautiful in a wicked, ethereal way, but he wasn’t beholden to his beauty.

His life seemed like one long, fascinating lurch towards the strange. 

When we matched on a dating app, I was eager to meet him, but I was also worried that my preconceived notions might get in the way of our interaction. I already felt I knew so much about him through his blog. It seemed unfair to him. He had no preexisting sense of my personal narrative, and that’s probably how it should be when meeting someone for the first time. 

This guy was somewhat elusive, and it was clear he had a tendency to make spontaneous plans. After a brief exchange over text, we decided we’d meet at a bar in Oakland. When I walked in, I knew he was there. I could feel his eyes on me, but I hadn’t yet seen him. Knowing I was likely being watched, I walked to the back of the bar and gathered myself in the bathroom.

I was nervous. I needed a drink. 

After ordering a beer at the bar, I turned towards the entry and spotted him. He was sitting alone in a shadowy alcove near the front door, head cocked to one side, smirking at me. I gripped my beer and approached him. He looked exactly as pictured, and his manner of speech mirrored his writing.

We settled into conversation with ease. He was quick, dancing from one subject to the next with humor and grace. 

We discovered we had lived in Portland at the same time, equally miserable and lonely, stumbling through our respective lows. I told him that if he ever happened to see me around town during that time, I probably would’ve been doing something pathetic, like crying in a streetcar or reading Miranda July on the Willamette River with grass-dampened ass and a doughnut. I remember saying this because it was the first time I earned a real laugh from him, and it felt like an accomplishment. He was somewhat stoic, and it seemed like a form of self-preservation. I sought to earn his trust. 

A few hours at the bar came and went as we talked. I remember thinking it obvious that he had a sense of his own mythos, and that he decidedly leaned into it. I didn’t mind.

He drove me back to his place in a low, beetle-like car that resembled a hearse. That’s how he liked it. We settled on his couch with a bottle of red wine, passing it back and forth as we laughed our way through Blade Runner 2049. Sitting thigh-to-thigh with him, I remember quietly marveling at the level of comfort I felt sharing casual touch with this near-stranger. 

By the time we finished the movie, it was nearly 3 or 4 AM.

He invited me to spend the night, but I felt that would be too easy. Too good. I wanted to hold this memory as it was, without potential for discoloration later. This was night one. There would be more nights like this, I told myself. 

As we anticipated the arrival of my Lyft outside, he gave me a hug, saying, “I’m gonna kiss you on the cheek, if that’s all right.” I turned and kissed him on the mouth instead.

When we parted, he smiled and said, “Well shit, I guess we could’ve been doing that all night.” I nodded, reminding myself again that there would be more nights like this. 

For the moment, though, my ride was waiting and the sun was rising. 

I had to get back to my little room, my little life. 

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