"If you could grow up anywhere, where would you grow up?" he asked from across the table.
I sat. Contemplating. Eyebrows slightly furrowed. What would I say to that? What does anyone say to that?
After a few beats, I came up with some makeshift answer. Maybe I said Maine, because it always seems calm, or maybe I said Michigan, I can't recall. What I can recall was the distinct feeling that the short Romeo across from me was not, in fact, my future bae.
The coffee shop, Albina Press (aptly located next to Blandena Ave), closed about an hour after we met up. This was the part in any Tinder date where you either continue to another spot, possibly a bar, or maybe a dessert place, you have to read the mood. But tonight, the rain poured down. We heard the click of the door locking behind us, and I realized I had zero interest in continuing the date. Or whatever it was.
And it's not that this guy (Marshall, I think) was particularly awful. That wasn't the problem. The problem was that there was no magic. And before you roll your eyes, let me explain. Marshall, with his red bomber, Nikes, and khakis, could have easily been attractive to me. I mean, he was attractive enough to get me to come on this awkward coffee date. And although I can't definitively say if it was the weather, or the coffee or even the person in front of me, it was weird. As with most Tinder dates, this too felt more like an unsuccessful interview than anything out of a love story.
"Should we go somewhere else? I think there's a bar up the street..." he trailed off.
"Umm, I'm driving tonight so I can't drink anything," I uncomfortably replied. Why did it have to be raining? We could just walk around if this damn rain would just let up...
"We could just drink water..."
This was getting worse.
I don't even know what I said to end the evening, but I ended it. We said we'd reschedule, but we never did.
Not all of my Tinder experiences have been bad. The majority have, but not all. The thing I can't shake, the thing that keeps me coming back inexplicably is this idea of possibility. What if I delete my Tinder today, and the love of my life downloads his account tomorrow, and starts dating some girl with good legs and a bad temper that throws his heart in the blender (hopefully emotionally, this isn't Sweeney Todd), and creates this avalanche of emotional baggage that I have to help him unpack later? Who has the time for that? (Answer: ain't nobody got time for that.)
Nevertheless, I've used Tinder for a few years now. My experiences have been varied. I've encountered every type of guy. Here's a little sampler:
1) The guy who opens the door for you. He also says, "right" after everything you say. He might be wearing cowboy boots, even though he's a bio major. But it's all about the mystery. Obviously.
2) The guy who gets 4 PBR's and a burger and then says, "So, do you want to split the bill?" And subsequently, that's the last time you ever agree to meet up with Guy #2.
3) The guy that says he's unemployed because, he just "needed a break from it all." Valid, bro, but also, are you paying for the bill tonight? Are you paying for your own bills? Cue concern. And your Uber.
It might not sound like it in this post, but I'm a romantic. I've become a bit more cynical about it with every bad date I've been on, but I think I'll always be a romantic. Raised on a healthy diet of Jane Austen and rom coms (usually starring J Lo, Kate Hudson, or Sandra Bullock), I've grown up keeping my eyes open to love everywhere I go. The grocery store. The gas station. The Thai restaurant with my favorite yellow curry. Hell, even Costco. Much like that GIF of Kim Kardashian sneaking around the bushes, I'm always on the lookout for love. A real life meet-cute would be preferable, of course, but the idea of online shopping for your future boyfriend? It draws me back. What is it about this crazy, peculiar app?
I started this blog post thinking I'd be able to tell you. I'd be able to lay out exactly what it is about online dating that makes people keep searching, even when they've been cat-fished (thankfully, not me) or at the very least, disappointed. The truth is, I don't actually know. And I may never actually know. If there's one thing I want to say to you, though, it's this: it's okay to be searching. I'm happy being a single gal, pursuing my dreams. I don't need a guy to tell me I'm beautiful in order to feel beautiful. That's just silly. But looking for your person is also okay. It's not desperate. It's not "lame." It's actually pretty rad. Because unlike the saying that used to be VERY hip (cue eye roll) "Don't Give A F***", guess what? Giving a f*** means you care. It means that you're living your life with passion instead of going through the motions. And I'm all for that, aren't you?
So while I may have a few more Blandena dates on the horizon, full of awkward conversations, I'm alright with that. It's just a sign that I'm living with an open heart, and perhaps a healthy sense of humor.
(And no, Marshall, there's nowhere else I would've wanted to grow up. Oregon was great. Okay, I'm done.)