The Return to Innocence
Two weeks ago I was on my way to Phoenix to see my family for a long weekend. I hadn’t seen them since the holidays and I was just missing my young nieces so badly that the trip was kind of a last minute decision on my part. The entire weekend was a whirlwind but the times I enjoyed the most was when we were all in the car and my nieces requesting me to sit next to them, watching them at gymnastics class or them wanting me to take them to school. It is always nice to be wanted in life but when it is unconditional there is nothing like it. Over the course of the weekend, I couldn’t help but look at the girls and wonder just how much longer they will be able to hold onto their innocence. It was there that I realized that that is why parents have such a hard time seeing their children go off in the wrong direction. You want your children to remain as innocent for as long as possible before the big bad world grabs a hold of them. Which got me thinking on my way back to New York if it is ever possible to return to some of our own innocence?
That Monday when I landed in Newark airport, I was grateful that I took an early flight for I still had an entire afternoon and evening to get things done. So after a quick workout, I walked all the way down to the Lower East Side to meet some girlfriends of mine at Freeman’s. Over several bottles of wine, I realized that I was drunk and I had work the next day. So, I shared a cab with my good friend and I made sure to drink a lot of coconut water before passing out.
I was looking forward to Wednesday because I was seeing friends of mine that I feel like I hadn’t seen in a very long time. We were meeting at Taco Salvation which is inside the Pod Hotel. The drinks are amazing and the rooftop view is excellent. I told myself to not get more than two drinks for I had a first date the next day and I didn’t want to look like shit. After two rather strong cocktails, I said goodbye to everyone, grabbed a cab and once again, made sure I drank plenty of coconut water before going to sleep.
Thursday had presented itself and I was amazed at how fast the week was going by. After work, I thought I had enough time to attend a yoga class, get ready and meet my date all by 8. This guy was a someone I had met at one of those single events I attended last month. The only thing I really remember about him was that he was tall, bald and wore glasses. So, when he suggested we meet up for drinks, I took it as a good sign that things might be taking a turn for the better. My yoga class ran late and I took longer to get ready than I had planned so I was already off to a bad start with texting the date that I would be about fifteen to twenty minutes late. His response back to me was that he didn’t mind and that he would be waiting for me on the roof deck. We were meeting at the new Boxers in Hell’s Kitchen. When I finally arrived to the bar, he was already two drinks in and surrounded by a group of younger people.
I said hello to him and the first thing he said was, “You smell great.” However, he said it in a very thick Russian accent. NOW, I remembered him. He was from the Ukraine. I went to the bar to grab a drink and I offered to get him one but he said abruptly, “I had two drinks already waiting for you. I am done drinking.” I couldn’t tell if his tone was filled with annoyance or the fact that he was from the Ukraine. When I got back, I decided it was time to get to know him. What I learned was that he is unemployed and isn’t sure what he wants to do next or if he wants to go back to work at all. Lives in Brooklyn and wanted to know my opinion on the difference between a hook-up versus sex. It was there that I knew this date was going to go downhill fast. Before I could answer his question, he asked me if I had a Grindr account. I told him that I do not. He was shocked saying all gay men should have an account. To which I said, “Well, I am not like all gay men.” He didn’t like that answer and went back to the topic of hooking up. After I finished my one and only drink (even on my worse dates, I have at least two drinks) but after I finished my drink, I told him that it was getting late and that I should be going. He left with me and on the street corner I told him to get home safely but I don’t think a second date is going to happen. He said he understood and left. I went home and was relieved that I didn’t waist the money by buying a second drink.
Friday and I was seeing Mr. B. For those that might have forgotten about Mr. B. He was the guy that I met on Fire Island last year and has a young son. I hadn’t seen him since his holiday party last year when it was apparent that things between us were not going to move in a romantic direction. So, after several weeks of trying to get something on our calendars we finally agreed on meeting at Boxers (back to the scene of Thursday’s crime). He sent a text message to me saying he was running a bit late and I didn’t mind since the sun was out and I took that time to decompress my day. He sent another text that said his boyfriend had finals and that he might join us. Boyfriend? Joining us? Maybe this was his not-so- subtle way of telling me that he is seeing someone.
When they arrived, I decided to just let things go and get to know the new boyfriend. After several questions about his finals, just moving to New York and being an intern, I ended my questions with his age. The young man is 21 years old. I just gave a judgmental look at Mr. B. and he knew what the look was about. He looked down to the ground and didn’t make eye contact with me because he knew that the entire situation is not right. As the drinks continued, Mr. B. said he was hungry, so I suggested we just go to Therapy where he could get snacks. Not more than five minutes of being there all of the sudden two more of Mr. B.’s friends show up unannounced. This was not the evening I had planned and so if he can play that game than I would be doing the same. So, I went the bathroom and text messaged a friend of mine to come and rescue me from this evening. After we finished our drinks, we went back to one of the new guy’s apartment and finally my friend showed up. I didn’t want to be in that apartment and so we then went to Industry where we were able to ditch everyone and it was just my friend and I doing some shots and having some beers before calling it an early night. Not sure I will be seeing Mr. B. again for a long time for the time that we haven’t seen each other, he certainly has changed.
When I woke up on Saturday, the sun was already out and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. New York City was finally getting some spring time weather. I did a bunch of errands before I was to meet a friend of mine whom I recently got back in touch with. Ok. Yes. We did date but that was a long time ago, probably even during a time when I was much more innocent, young and well…naïve. But the nice thing about this reconnection is to be able to witness a great guy that is very happy now with his current partner. We were meeting at 44 ½ for a nice relaxing brunch and it was just what the doctor ordered. We caught each other up, sitting outside drinking mimosas as the sun hit our bodies. After the brunch, we both went our separate ways to do some shopping. I decided that it might be best to lie down for a bit before going out again.
I got dressed and back out into the city I went. I was going to a friend’s dinner party who was celebrating his new apartment along with the fact that his family was in town. We were greeted with open arms by his family and it was simply sweet seeing him so happy around his parents and friends. You can tell by the look on his face that not only did he make the right choice of moving into his new home but that he loves his family very much. Many drinks later, I looked at my watch and saw the hideous time of 4 a.m.!!!! Grabbing a friend of mine that happens to live on the same street as me and we got in a cab and took ourselves home. This time I knew I might end up looking like shit for I had a new first date on Sunday that I was looking forward to.
I don’t even know how this is possible but I woke up and wasn’t hung over. I was tired but I wasn’t feeling nauseous at all. You may remember two weeks ago, I was to meet a new guy I had met through OKCupid for a brunch and one hour before we were to meet, he sent me a text message that just said, “I’m sorry. I can’t do this. Sorry for the last minute cancelation.” Well, he contacted me while I was away in Phoenix with my family and apologized for him canceling and that he just had a lot going on and would be open to meeting again. I decided to accept his apology and suggested we should go back to the same spot we were going to have brunch at. So, I made the reservations earlier last week and over the week him and I talked on the phone, exchanged several fun and flirty text messages. His last response to me was on Saturday telling me that he is always punctual and that I better not be late or else. So, despite my few hours of rest, I made it a point to not be late and show up on time. In fact, I was three minutes early.
I told the hostesses that I would just sit at the bar and wait. The place wasn’t too crowded and the only person at the bar was a woman that had all this paperwork spread out on the bar, along with her iPad , cell phone and her luggage. After ten minutes went by, I sent a text message to the guy telling him that I had arrived. No response. Twenty minutes went by and I called him and told him that I was here but the hostess was asking me if it was ok to let my table go for other patrons. No response. After I left the message with him, the woman overheard me and said, “Are you waiting for a date? You might want to grab a drink to take the edge off.” I told her, “No. I am good. I don’t want to come across as a drunk on the first date.” She smiled and said that it was a good idea. Thirty minutes go by and it happened. I got stood up. He was doing it to me again. I couldn’t believe this 39 year old social worker was standing me up and making me feel so vulnerable. The bartender was also part of the conversation and said, “I am really sorry man. You can have any drink you want. On the house for that sucks what just happened to you.” I took my free drink and drank it as quickly as possible for I wasn’t sure if I was going to cry and I sure as hell didn’t want these strangers to witness that. I left the bartender a nice tip for being so kind to me and I left. I didn’t know where to go or what to do because I had a birthday party that was still hours away. I wasn’t even sure if I should even go to the birthday party for my friend because my self esteem had been crushed and wasn’t feeling like I would be good in a social setting.
Not really knowing what to do, I just walked around the city for hours. I was becoming angry the more and more I was thinking about what had just happened to me. It is never ok at any age to ever stand someone up. If you don’t like someone, than after one cup of coffee or drink, you simply leave but you do not fall of the face of the earth and ignore someone. When I finally got to my friend’s birthday party at Ninth Ward, I told myself that being there surrounded by these amazing people just might be what I needed to keep my mind from wondering down a dark path. I paced myself with the beers because I knew that while my mind was severely depressed that I couldn’t let my bad news effect the reason why I was there and I didn’t want to get emotional at my friends party. After a few beers, my body was telling me to go home, eat some comfort food and get some rest. Which is exactly what I did and I never contacted the guy again and he never contacted me. I went to bed last night with a pretty bruised ego but I know like all bruises that they heal and go away. Just like this entire experience, I will heal and it will all go away.
Can we ever go back to being completely innocent again? Probably not. We may have traded Noxema for anti-wrinkle creams, allowances for paychecks and notes where you checked yes or no when you liked someone for an email. After all, we are the ones that create our own chaos and we no longer have our parents to guide us in the right direction or to make things better when we fall down. We may never be able to return to our original innocence but that certainly doesn’t mean we can’t ever visit from time to time.
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