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“I’m literally this close to going over there and telling them to SHUT THE HELL UP.”

“Oh my gosh, quiet down, they’ll hear you!”

Lisa was never one for my shameless acts of verbal aggression.

“I don’t care! I’m trying to eat my Ihop in peace, and they are being ridiculously annoying.”

I was never one for loud, obnoxious idiots in public restaurants as midnight.

We did power through, though, and managed to finish our eggs and bacon before I went ape shit on the customers across the room. While waiting in line to pay for our meals, I looked over to the table of boys – as was everyone else, they weren’t exactly being discrete – and saw one staring in my direction.

“Uh, Lisa, he’s looking at me,” I whispered to my best friend, “why is he looking at me?”

“I don’t know, but – hmm.. He’s kind of cute.”

“Ew, stop,” I replied. We paid for our food and as we were leaving, I saw that he was still eyeing me and I waved at him with a sarcastic take-a-picture-it-will-last-longer expression on my face.

And then he started to walk over to us.

So naturally, we ran to the car, giggling like twelve year old girls. Nice one.

He managed to catch us before we sped off, on the account of me not being able to find my keys. #bigpurseproblems

“Um, hey, wait!”

Good lord, this is embarrassing. “Oh, hey,” I said, trying to regain my composure.

“Hi, uh, I’m Andrew.” Ugh, Lisa was right. He’s kind of sort of attractive.

“Yeah, one of the loud ones, right? I’m Jacki.” Lisa sent a glare in my direction. “And this is my friend, Lisa.”

“Oh,” Andrew chuckled, “Sorry about that, I tried to get them to shut up. They are a rowdy bunch.”

No kidding.

“Listen, I usually don’t do this, but would you like to hang out sometime?”

I took a second, making sure that he was actually talking to me and not my friend. Unfortunately, I was visiting my hometown for Spring Break and would be going back to college in a few days. I explained the situation to him but he very persistent, and still wanted to hang out. So, I thought, what the hell, and we exchanged numbers.

Who would have thought breakfast at midnight would mean meeting someone who would become so special to me?

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I’ve never been very good at the whole dating thing. I’m a very awkward person and I’ve failed to master the art of small talk, which often leads to long, empty silences on a first date. And then there’s the whole crisis about finding something to wear in my bare (overflowing) closet. But somehow I managed to put together a cute outfit and sat in my thoughts while I waited for Andrew to come pick me up.

What am I even doing? I’m going on a date with a guy that I accidentally met at Ihop. For all I know, he could be an axe murderer. Plus, I don’t even live here anymore, so what’s the point of opening up the possibility of getting involved in something long distance? That never works out.

The doorbell rang. Well, no turning back now.

Andrew takes me to Applebee’s, which makes me feel a little better because of the casual atmosphere. Plus, food is an excuse to avoid awkward conversation. My mother did always teach me that talking with your mouth full is impolite.  Much to my surprise, though, the conversation between us flows easily and it’s not awkward at all. We end up having very compatible personalities and a lot in common.

“Alright, so, favorite rapper? Do you even listen to rap?”

I laugh and think for a moment, “I’d have to go with Drake. I like music more for the lyrics than anything and he’s got a way with putting emotion into words.”

“No way! Drake is my all-time favorite artist.”

So we start talking about different songs and different artists, and then before we know it, the check is at the table.

“I don’t really want to go home yet,” I admit.

Andrew smiles. “Good. I want to take you to one of my favorite spots.”

The axe murderer scenario pops back up in my head, but it soon vanishes as I reflect on the wonderful dinner we just had. On the way to the mystery spot, Andrew and I talk more and more and it turns out he’s a writer, too. A poet, actually.

Finally I ask him, “ Are we lost?”

He gives me a bit of a bashful smile and says, “No, I’ve been driving in circles. I just wanted an excuse to spend more time with you.”

Oh no, a sweet talker. Help me.

We end up at this quiet spot by a lake, isolated from the neighborhoods we had been driving through. Andrew helps me out of the car and we walk down closer to the water and find a spot to sit at.

It’s a clear night, so the moon and stars are brighter than I’ve seen in awhile since they are usually dimmed by civilization. The sky looks enormous and beautiful, and I can’t remember the last time I felt so at peace. I listen to the sound of the water and try to soak it all in.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Andrew asks me. I almost forgot that he was there with me.

“Yes, it’s wonderful.”

“Kind of like you.”

Oh my gosh.

 

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We sit in silence for a little longer, just admiring nature’s presence, and then I get to see Andrew’s emotional side, which doesn’t usually happen on a first date. He tells me about his last girlfriend who cheated on him right before Valentine’s Day, when he was going to propose to her. He tells me about his broken relationship with his parents, and how he hasn’t seen his brothers in years. He talks about how he doesn’t drink, but when he does it’s whiskey straight from the bottle and it’s him, alone, drenched in all of the sadness that life has presented him with.

I never let my guard down for people, let alone on a first date, but it just felt right. I told Andrew about my emotionally abusive ex boyfriend, about the months I spent going to a therapist, about my nonexistent relationship with my father. As we are pouring our hearts out to each other, I can’t help but notice how broken we both are. And I realize that it doesn’t matter if I never see him again, or if things don’t work out between us. It doesn’t matter because this night is a night for opening up to someone else and letting all that has built up inside of us go free. Neither of us had had someone to confide in, and neither of us had had the courage to do so until tonight.

We may both have been strangers to each other, but I had never felt closer to anyone in my life. Damaged, beaten, and bruised, we both found each other and through conversation and trust, we were able to help each other begin the healing process that was so long overdue.

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