Tuesday, November 17, 2009

At 8pm the Chicken Goes Half Price!

My last date with L. was supposed to begin at Huber's. I know, the Spanish Coffee, the Spanish Coffee, the Spanish Coffee. Everyone raves about it. But when I arrived downtown and poked my head into the restaurant and then the bar, I noticed blue haired ladies and felt a bit of dread. I'd picked a bad place. A bad place with old people! Luckily L. was fine with eating at a Persian restaurant around the block.

The food was decent with huge portions. My theory is that restaurants in Portland feel like portion size makes up for quality, when really it doesn't. Anyway, the date was very nice but we missed the movie I'd wanted to see, playing at 6:50 at The Laurelhurst, 500 Days of Summer. That left us with the other idea of watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. L. had been raving about this show. Because of certain logistical issues: he watches on a laptop, didn't have the proper adapter cord to connect it to a TV, etcetera, a visit to Freddy Meyer's proved useless yet amusing, we ended up in the "entertainment room" at his building, with an unsuccessful hook up to the TV there, and then just huddled around his little computer to watch.

Side note:
At FM's we run into a friend of his. When asked what he was doing in FM's (huge grocery store) at nearly 8pm on a Saturday night, he explained that at 8pm the chicken goes half price.

Well, that's one exciting way to spend an evening. I dearly hope it was the rotisserie and not slices of chicken. Slices of chicken at a deli counter. Does it get more depressing? I wasn't enjoying the florescent lighting - it certainly wasn't doing justice to my newly chestnut locks and highlights, but I was going with it. It definitely felt less romantic that visiting the opera and getting hot toddies at Caldera, as we did last week.

That said, after the show, which is gross and almost amusing and then gross again, "things progressed" and I can't quite explain it but something felt missing. I tried to explain this to L. I really like him, but between our last date and this one some enthusiasm felt absent both on my part and maybe his, some ephemeral piece of the connection. He said he felt it too and that he'd been a bit depressed since our last date.

Never a fantastic sign. I'm wondering if, now stop the presses, drum roll please....it's not all them. But me? Could it be me? Could it not be all the men I go out with? Ridiculous, I know. But evidence is pointing in that direction.

Still, I'm going to hold my ground: I want to meet someone I have fun with, who likes peace and quiet, who adores my dog, who is sincere, and cute and there's attraction. In the scope of the world, I don't think that's too outlandish. It just might mean more future dates.

On my drive home, I didn't feel terribly upset. But there was a part of me that felt like the half priced chicken. Like my value decreased after 8pm.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Death, Love, the Underworld, the Usual

L. and I grab a quick dinner at Matador, replete with crazy LA style goblets of Malbec and Shiraz. We use the Tom-Tom to find the theatre and it fails us royally, yet we make it to the opera with five minutes to spare. I'm an expert on rushing, so this feels normal. He's gotten us tickets to see Orphee, a Philip Glass opera. I suffer from a rarely diagnosed disorder of falling asleep the minute the lights go down at any performance. I have many stories of movies missed, plays slept through, and bands that were silent, because of this. I never sit too close to the stage. It's a bit of an experiment to see how those around me respond.

L. put his hand on mine, "You're falling asleep."

I tell him, "I'm awake. I'm awake." I improve my posture as if this is proof positive of how awake and alert I am. Then I explain. "It's so relaxing. The lights go out and my eyes...just close."

L. looked very handsome in his suit jacket and jeans and he didn't seem upset and soon enough he was caressing my hand, which instantly made me awake for the remainder of the performance, though I'd be hard pressed to give a summary of the plot line. There was the fantastical stuff, death, love, the underworld, the usual.

It was lovely to be at the opera. This whole other world takes place in Portland at night and for some reason I've not chosen to be a part of it. I believe with my knitting, cheap wine, and A., I've been in hibernation mode. Back in New York I'd been more involved, more active, more into the arts. So it's lovely to be here with L. and have him re-introduce something into my life that's purely for pleasure. There is no need to be here tonight, it's all an elective. Listening to this story, hearing the swells and arcs of Glass's musical stories, the punches he throws and learning about lost love and chauffeurs, I feel different, like a light is shining on a little lost part of me.

Afterwards, we go for hot toddies at Caldera, not realizing until the lights are flashing that we are some of the only patrons and at a whopping 11:30pm they are closing. I love Caldera and go there often. It's an old house way out on 60th and Stark, converted into a restaurant/bar with a back deck and a black bath tub that's now a couch and lots of worn, old wood, rich cakes, pies, plus elaborate drinks.

Fast forward...

L. and I sleep just a little and make it to Mt. Tabor the next morning with A. A. cannot get enough of L. He chases her, attacks her paws, grabs her snout and she comes back for more and more and more. It's a lovely morning and a lovely walk and L. doesn't end up going home until 3pm that day. He lets me know about his recent divorce and his school responsibilities, I take this in. He describes himself as flawed and we agree we are both flawed and at this age, everyone else is too. But still, my ears perk at this warning. We go for brunch at Arletta Library Cafe. Because I'm more practical than emotional lately, I don't feel upset by what he said. He knows I'm applying to PhD programs back East. I explain to him that I like him and want to get to know him better. Soon enough he's asking about our next plans and texting me as he drives home and later that same night.

I like him. I really do. There is something familiar and yet foreign about him. And then my phone rings and it's M. (my ex-boyfriend that I moved out to Portland with). I decide to call him back later in the night. Fine. He's been pushing. Okay. He can be my friend. He's 1,000s of miles away.

But for now, I'll just bask in the glow of L.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Privacy Setting

Date #3 with L. I get lost, in many ways. First, I cannot find the restaurant. I've lived in Portland for over three years and have yet to visit this nook near OHSU, Riverfront. It's composed of winding long, dark roads, leading to ultra-modern, new skyscraper types - a small, carved out neighborhood somewhere near the 5, Naito Parkway, and the river, and yet only a few streets allow entry into this spot. FYI, Market street is nice to know "goes through." I had moments of doubt and three phone calls to the restaurant for directions, arrived 25 minutes late and yet, was ecstatic to find it at all. L. had killed his phone and so I couldn't even text him to say I was running late. Actually, I did text him knowing he'd not get it, but needing to tell someone somewhere out there that I'd be late for something.

L. is understanding about my lack of promptness and we eat sushi, then visit his apartment and go to the 5th floor with our glasses of Riesling onto the eco-terrace. The eco-terrace and this whole neighborhood is as surreal as it sounds. I feel like I'm in an episode of the Jetsons. It's modern hotel-style living and riding in the silent elevator, for a moment I wish my whole life could be as straight forward and simple as this ride. Silently, I'm led from place to place. No decisions necessary. Each swift move as calibrated and direct as the design of this building, this eco-terrace, this strange land.

"Let me turn on the fire," L. says. And two seconds later there is the appearance of a fire, we're on the rooftop, sitting beside it, watching a woman silently exercise in the all glass room nearby. She's on the treadmill. I watch her legs scramble to keep up, her unforgiving pace.

"So Portland is small," L. tells me. "Really small."

I agree with this.

L. has a pained look on his face. "I found your blog."

The air inside my lungs is gone and I feel tears approaching but I'm able to hold them back, if I don't look directly at him.

"I'm sorry," I say, not wanting to look at L. I am mortified. "I think I should leave."

He asks me to stay. Once I catch my breath and find my voice I explain that it's really just for my friends to read and to stay in touch, and for me to reflect on my experiences.

"That's fine," L. says, and he couldn't sound kinder. He's nearly whispering and I can barely hear him, this has its advantages as I wish we weren't having this conversation. "Is this like a project? I don't want to end up in the New York Times."

Can't anything not turn to shit? I let this concern of his sink in. I assure him I didn't write anything negative about him. A large part of the blog was to provide a place to share my experiences with other people because I couldn't believe how challenging dating had become. I hadn't meant to hurt anyone's feelings.

"What's wrong with the New York Times?"

Finally L. laughs; it's a welcome sound. "I love the New York Times."

"You're definitely not a project. These are my experiences. I just wanted to write about them. To own them." I stop myself here because I can imagine as much as I feel my privacy violated, he must feel it much more so, "I'm sorry you read it and it bothered you. I can take it down."

L. says that isn't necessary but that I need to protect my privacy on facebook, so he doesn't feel tempted to keep reading it. I had thought I did this already. "That's fair," I say, "and I'll need to blog about this."

He says he's fine with this arrangement though I'm not sure how much I want to blog about it. Bad dates are one thing, but good dates and the hopefulness attached to them, are another.

We went upstairs, he picked the Your Friends tab under the Privacy Setting on facebook. There were some kisses and we discussed outfits for our Friday night date. I described what I was planning to wear: a sweater dress. It's a sweater but it's a dress and a dress and a sweater. Hence, casual. There were more kisses.

I found my way home on the 5. It was easy and right there all along.