I was having drinks with a friend the other night.
I go through phases, you know. Where I sneak away to have drinks with friends, then get back to work. I used to go back to the office on those kinds of nights in order to avoid my husband…but now, since I don’t have a husband, I go home and do work from home.
So I was having a drink with a friend, in a wine bar, in my neighborhood–before, of course, I went home to do more work.
The wine bar was one of those too-dark and too-loud kinds of wine bars, which was kind of in fashion a few years ago–the type of place that serves overly salty, too-small plates. The wine list was pretty decent but the place had very unattentive waitstaff. To their credit, however, they were refreshingly unpretentious.
The couple next to us was clearly on a first date. He: tall-ish; vaguely European-looking; a little nerdy. She: blonde; petite; pretty. Clearly uninterested.
He was talking about his blackberry.
In one crystal clear moment of horror, I realized this: God help me if I ever wind up on a date where I find myself talking about my blackberry. God help me if I ever wind up on first dates like that; if my life becomes an existential series of going and doing and being and getting absolutely nowhere–sneaking away from the office to interview prospective partners the way I used to interview prospective summer associates in tiny rooms on campus at NYU, or–more disturbingly–in hotel rooms (not ballrooms, mind you, but hotel bedrooms!) at Georgetown (more accurately, the Washington Court Hotel).
God help me.
It brought into perspective the whole post-marital dating situation in a way I had not previously considered it.
For one, I am no longer legally married. Which brings with it a whole set of rights and responsibilities that were not previously mine.
For another, in order to avoid the inevitable fate of spinsterhood, in which the authorities find me, Little Edie-style, living in my decrepit East Hampton estate, surrounded by the detritus of the attempt at a patrician life, and the waste products of the entire feral cat population of Long Island, I suppose I should dive back into the ice cold waters of screening suitors.
Gee. Don’t I sound excited.
Listening to this couple, however; spying on this first date made me second-guess every urge I’d had to start spending time with other people again. The awkwardness, the stilted syllables; the uncharged air.
But then I remembered…
I like other people. I like company; and dinners out; and dinners in, really. I like meeting people. I can talk to anyone–even a post. Even someone who talks about his blackberry all night. I even like blackberrys. I’m a bit of a gadget girl–a trait taken from my beloved grandfather.
I realize this is weird. I realize it will be odd for my friends, who have known me with one man for the last seven-ish years, when I show up somewhere with someone else. In theory, they say they’re excited for me to begin again, but I wonder what it will be like in practice.
I wonder what it will be like for me to withstand the scrutiny–or even the perceived scrutiny–of my married friends; my friends who just have my wellbeing at heart when they ask me endless questions about the man on my arm or in my thoughts. Or perhaps in my bed.
I don’t know what that’s like.
So the couple next to us got up to leave. He didn’t help her into her coat; he was just as awkward on the way out as he’d been throughout. I wanted to reach out and help him along his way; say “Hey, buddy. Put the goddamned blackberry away!”
It wouldn’t have helped matters.
“Do you want to get dinner?” my friend asked, breaking my train of thought, and my stare, “I know you have work to do, but we should get some food, regardless.”
“Sure,” I said, suddenly conscious of the thing I wasn’t doing. Suddenly conscious of what it would take to get over this hurdle; what I had been missing. The piece that I had failed to recognize seven years ago through now: the making-space part–space for me, space for someone else, space to do things with friends and that I enjoyed. Space to enjoy.
We left the wine bar; left awkward couples, families, dates, drunks–left them all behind; and wandered into the Upper East Side night looking for dinner.