Second Date (Messages from another dimension)
January 12, 2019
“Can you smell that? It’s the scent of the distant rain carried by the wind.”
I stopped rowing, straightened my body in the canoe, and sniffed the air. All I could sense at first was the faint swampy smell of the Indian River’s briny water.
“Ahh! Can you feel it?” David insisted. “Isn’t that a wonderful smell?”
I inhaled deeply, fearing I’d disappoint him if I couldn’t get it—but this time I did.
“You are right! I can smell it!”
I smiled in surprise. The storm clouds were so distant on the horizon it was hard to believe we could smell the rain from there. Right around us there was no hint of bad weather. The Indian River waters were incredibly calm; as we rowed, a soft, warm late September breeze caressed my face. The sun had just set and the sky and water were still dyed the most amazing combination of orange, pink and burgundy that only a Florida sunset can create. Above us, a tiny slice of a new moon hung lazily.
My thoughts wandered to that book about sacred shamanic ceremonies I had read once. “The new moon is the perfect timing for new beginnings.”
Beginning of what? I couldn’t tell yet. At that moment everything felt surreal as if I floated in a pleasant dream. To say the least: for the past week I’d been haunted by memories of the future.
David Johansson, Professor of English and retired novelist, was the second of four match.com dates I’d had the week before. After he’d blown my mind with his intelligence and his sense of humor, I’d left the coffee shop mulling over a big question: Why was it that the image of his laughing face felt so familiar? Like something I’d watched thousands of times in the past—or was it the future?
And now on our second date, he was blowing me away again with his originality. I’d complained more than once about the lack of variety in my online dates. Rarely did they consist of more than a coffee shop or a restaurant. I remember wondering, “Why can’t someone invite me for something that’s healthier and not fattening, such as a bicycle ride?”
You can imagine, then, my surprise and delight when David called me as I left the Melbourne Art show. He wanted to meet again and had a whole afternoon planned.
“I have a second beach cruiser bike,” he said. “How about we meet at my house, go for a bike ride, grab some tapas, and then take a sunset ride in my canoe.”
Did this man have microphones installed in my house? Or maybe an insider among my friends? How did he know I’d said I wanted a bike ride on a date? This would not be the last time I wondered if he could sneak into my thoughts and memories.
And now for the past several hours during this second date, in the picturesque town of Melbourne Beach, I’d been beset by a storm of incredibly clear images. They were pictures, as real as memories, of the two of us riding those bikes together, spotting those same historical buildings around the pier, admiring those elegant river and ocean-side mansions many other times—in the future. As we shopped for goodies at the local market and set up our picnic in David’s backyard’s pergola, and during every pause of our animated conversation, something strange was happening inside my mind.
I can only describe it as if I had split not into two halves, but into two whole-parts, the way a cell does during mitosis. The newly created me didn’t bother to say hello; instead the first words that came out of her mouth shocked me. She announced in a clear, calm, matter-of-fact voice, “This is the man I want to grow old with.”
There was nothing dramatic about it. No action was required from me and I wasn’t being offered an alternative choice. I was just being informed about it.
No, I swear I wasn’t drunk and I wasn’t high—I’m too lightweight for alcohol and too nerdy for drugs. And trust me, my super-intellectual, over-analytical self was very, very worried about these illogical, unreasonable thoughts.
The canoe ride was more than eye-candy. For the first time in my life, someone explained to non-athletic me how to row and I got it—“Don’t try to pull the oar back, instead push its handle forward and use it like a lever.” It also had the bonus of hearing David joke-sing a verse of Dean Martin’s “Amore,” making me laugh—“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s Amore.”
As he pulled the canoe to the shore and held my hand firmly to help me disembark I felt the same way I did that day at age ten when I accidentally saw my score of 100% atop a pile of unpublished test grades on the teacher’s desk. It was a mixture of excitement with a little fear, because I had glimpsed something I wasn’t supposed to know yet, and I knew I had better keep it for myself.
“But why do you say you want to grow old with him?” The original me asked the new me when she recovered from the surprise. “We haven’t even kissed; I don’t know if there’s any physical chemistry between us. And, yes, he’s a delight to be with so far, but I’ve barely seen him twice. Who knows how many dark secrets he hides?”
And the other me answered in a gentle voice, paraphrasing words I’d heard Dr. John Gray speak once in a web seminar: “When you find your soulmate it’s not a matter of a pros and cons list. You just know it. You know deep inside that you want to spend your life with that person and then, if you are lucky, you have the rest of your life to figure out why.”
Darkness was falling as we walked from the river back to David’s house carrying the oars. Never in my life would I have dreamt it possible to pack as much as we already had into a single evening. I was anticipating—and dreading—the moment of saying goodbye, yet David showed no intention of declaring the night over. He fed me a snack during another backyard picnic, this time under the stars, and we headed to the last stop on our itinerary: the beach.
We turned on our bike lights and rode the few blocks separating us from the ocean. It was sea turtle hatching season, and the beachfront was darker than ever—all lights were turned off at dusk, not to disorient the baby turtles finding their way to the water. With the devotion of marine biologist-wannabes and the enthusiasm of children, we walked along the shore in the dark, sneaking behind every dune and peeking in every hole in the ground, trying to spot sea turtles or their eggs. In the meantime, we talked about a little bit of everything, from space travel to spirituality. And all along, like a soundtrack, a song played in my mind. “Maybe this could be our last first kiss.”
Sometime later, I would learn it was too early in the evening yet to see any sea turtles—and David knew it. Had I known that, I would’ve been relieved to see he did have a plan with me. At that moment I was starting to doubt it.
“See? I don’t even know if he’s really interested in me.” My argument with the invisible me continued. “I’ve been with him for hours and he hasn’t tried to kiss me—or even touch me. And, seriously, if he didn’t seize the moment during that breathtaking sunset at the river, or here on this dark beach, I suspect he never will. Maybe he senses there’s no physical chemistry between us.”
The other me remained still for a while, then asked, “And what would happen if he kissed you and you felt absolutely no chemistry? What would happen if you didn’t feel any sparks, if his kiss was dull, clumsy, if it left you cold?”
I thought about it for a moment and was surprised to hear, in my mind, my own answer. “Honestly, if that happened, I’d want to keep on dating him anyway. This is the best time I’ve had on a date in my whole life.”
The other me nodded and added, “There’s something about this man I can’t explain. He radiates an energy that is soothing for my soul. I just feel so peaceful in his presence, so content.”
Sighing, I silently conceded, “I need more of this in my life.”
Then, the imaginary other-me smiled, waved goodbye, and vanished, returning to wherever she’d come from. That would not be, by far, the last time I’d see her.
Did he finally kiss me that night before I went home? Yes.
He asked permission before kissing me, and I smiled. Well, this guy is so civilized I better don’t expect much passion. I was neither right, nor wrong. That first kiss was nothing about passion and everything about tenderness.
His lips were softer than I expected; his gentle, silken kisses delightful. His strong arms wrapped around me and only then did I realize how muscular and hard they were. My brain stumbled, confused by the contradiction. Wait, how can he have such nice muscles when he’s an intellectual like me? His hands were so large I would’ve expected them to be rough or clumsy, yet they felt incredibly skilled and gentle as they massaged my back, thawing my soul.
And then, the switch flipped in my brain.
Can you think of a moment that marked the beginning of a new era in your life? Can you remember a clear-cut instant that launched you into such a new stage it felt like you started a new incarnation? That moment felt like the fulfillment of an oracle, so clear it was almost frightening.
As if he had secret intelligence into the deepest longings in my heart, he whispered the words I would’ve never admitted I yearned to hear. “Enough trying to be a super hero; enough taking care of everybody else. It’s time to let someone take care of you.”
That night, just for a moment, the last doubt fell away. It was like a veil of amnesia had been temporarily removed and I remembered him. I remembered making a pact with him before birth to find each other. I remembered him from every dream I had about my soulmate. I remembered him from the last of my golden years, when I would be looking back at this moment, reminiscing our life together with nostalgia.
I went home shortly after that, almost in a rush. I needed to put distance between us and clear my mind, before I did something I might regret. I kept the memory of that instant of certainty in the back of my mind, watching it with caution.
The next morning, I emailed my sister Nathalie. “I believe I just found the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. I’m telling you this now so you can be my witness. Because when I tell people this in the future, they will think I made it up.”
Was I right?
You know what I’m going to say now.
That’s another story.