Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Twenty Third Date

Happy gorgeous, sun shiny, just the right amount of cool fall day to you all. I hope you have a wonderful adventure planned today, out in the city or town that you call home. Just one week ago I ventured off to my second to last date with Gabe to Corona Queens.

 The Time:  Saturday, September 4th, 4:00pm
The Place: Louis Armstrong House Museum, 34-56th 107th St, Queens
The Guy: Gabe, 26, who I had been on my first date with one year prior and decided there wasn't a love connection as we walked along the highline, second time's the charm?
What Creative Time Says:  Humble spaces are part of the story, even if they are not part of the official tour.

 I love meeting men in every single way possible in NYC. I'll try speed dating, asking out a cute guy in a coffee shop, singles events and in central park. I once flew to Kansas to meet a guy I had been chatting with for months online (sorry parents, but it's true, I'm still alive though!) It comes as no surprise then, that I relish Time Out New York's singles issue every year it makes it's way to my doorstep, and devour its pages and people open and willing enough to put themselves on a market with such a high circulation.

Enter Gabe. A, then 25, tall curly haired guy with fantastic blue eyes. His profile, if I remember, somehow mentioned both his proclivity towards cucumbers and social justice. Obviously, I emailed him right away and we soon found ourselves walking along the building-treetops of the highline in Chelsea. Though our view of the world was spot on, I just didn't feel the love that night and we parted ways.

But when Gabe instant messaged me about law school ( he just started at my alma mater), and sneakily asked me how he should approach a professor about asking out this girl with a key, well, my stomach did that excited momentary burst it does when something gets changed up in life, and I gave him some very useful pointers.

Fast forward to last saturday and me running down the streets of Coronoa, flip flops flapping, back pack bouncing, calling Gabe's name as I recognized his well-over six foot tall frame heading down the road. Though I had approached today with some hesitation, immediately when he said hello, (me standing on tip toes, Gabe crouching down), I felt it again, that slight moment where you body is trying to tell you something like give it a real shot. Given my recent thoughts on "the leap" and "trust me", I tried my best to knock down some of my walls and give into the day(te). We rounded the corner and came upon the unassuming brick building that was once the house of a great jazz master legend.

Kudos here to everyone involved in the Armstrong House Museum for creating an entirely welcoming, fun, and friendly environment. Our tour guide Will was the perfect blend of funny and quirky, real life neighbors whose lives were folded into that of history walked by, and stepping into the house is a complete time warp where you feel you're stepping into gradma's living room and Louis wife Lucille will soon step out with cookies. The house rules were layed out in the friendliest of manners and so, even though I was bummed
 no pictures were allowed, the whole tour was filled with such thanksgiving turkey inspired warmth I couldn't have minded for more than a minute. Spiced with audio recordings of Louis' laughter-speckled words, I wanted nothing more at the end of the tour than to give the musician a hug worth breaking world records.

After the tour Gabe and I ventured through the gardens, took pictures in front of the space soon to house an even larger museum, and headed across the street for a Dominican restaurant which was really more like someone's kitchen with tables pulled up, and dined upon sweet smothered plantains, bursting with flavor yellow rice, and juicy, tender, blackened grilled chicken (well, I did, Gabe is a vegetarian). The ladies running the place were clearly enamored with my blue-eyed giant friend when he busted out his Spanish and they called him Papi through the entirety of our meal.

I was beginning to get to like this Papi as well. Clearly extremely intelligent (even the tour guide said his questions were "very good" in  first grade inspired feedback which made you want some too, sadly my questions did not receive the same accolades, Gabe was the star student of the day) and pursuing a career in international justice and inequality up-ending, we certainly had a lot to talk about. I was just talking about this with my friend Sally but, as much as people tell you to look away from someone's occupation because "it's not who they are it's what they do," I believe there is something to be said in how you choose to contribute to the world with your human capital. Granted, not everyone has the same ability or the same choices available to them in life but, more often than not, the people I am seeing do and I forget how nice it is to be with someone whose efforts are towards righting the wrongs of the worlds full force.  As we weaved through the streets of Coronoa, from thrift stores to vibrant shops, passing children with icees and parents with back to school fliers and spanish spanish spanish everywhere, our conversation kept the most friendly of beats and I found myself looking often up (way up!) into his eyes. Corona Queens is ALIVE with color and sites and sounds and even though I was battling a cold, I felt like skipping next to Gabe.

As we walked past Mosques and Evangelical centers, we eventually settled into a park and watched a rag-tag baseball team reminiscent of The Sandlot and discussed, what else, relationships. Gabe enjoyed questioning me about the whole process and watching me squirm as he asked me to dissect it, and he talked about his own relationships and dating partners from the past year. We talked alot about honesty and the necessity to ensure your partner knows exactly where you're at. Is this for fun or are you looking for something more long term? Are you dating around or sticking with one? Are you even in a place, right now, where you can let someone into your life in a meaningful way? I'm not saying that a third date requires an e-harmony like survey on your life right now, but so much hurt and confusion comes from the lack of that honesty and ability to put yourself out there. I remember talking to Alex of date number six soon after our date on the GWB, and all I wanted him to tell me was he wasn't interested in seeing me because then I could give up and let go for sure. Like the Armstrong museum versus Gracie Mansion, in the former the rules-setting was done with such warmth and care, and prepared me for what was ahead, so I didn't feel so dismayed when things didn't go exactly my way, even if it took more care for the museum to structure it that way, it made all the difference in how I felt about the site.  Gabe, at least, seemed completely comfortable being himself, and being open and honest with himself, with others.

Later on, when discussing what we're both into, Gabe mentions he doesn't really like cute (why he asked me out for a date given this knowledge I have no idea) and I almost  stuff the animal paw printed hoodie I bought at a new designer market back into my bag but then I realized that in order to find someone who loves you for who you are, you need to be who you are and put it all out there. Honestly and rules and hangups and all. I pulled the sweater back over my head, and headed off with Gabe through the dusk-glowing streets of Coronoa, Queens.



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