I re-downloaded Tinder yesterday.
It’s quite the vicious cycle- Download, swipe, delete, “I don’t need a man”, self-loathing, loneliness, download, swipe, delete, repeat; a black hole of strange faces and unfinished conversations.
I hit stage six, loneliness, at the pool stand at work, around 2 pm. I stared longingly at the one-legged man and his adoring girlfriend. I imagined myself going home to an empty house while my roommates camped and danced with their lovers. I downloaded Tinder.
I liked a blonde named Ryan.
“It’s a match!” said Tinder.
His bio: “From New Zealand, have spent the last 8 years traveling the world. Helicopter pilot and Entrepreneur with a world changing startup based out of Boulder! Positivity, the best attitude possible is what it’s all about. Let’s ADVENTURE!! insta *******” (starred out for privacy purposes).”
I instagrammed him. He had me at “From New Zealand”, but according to his photos, he looked like a pretty kickass human being…enthusiastic, lover of exclamation points, six-pack abs, world traveler, adventure enthusiast, from New Zealand, from New Zealand, from New Zealand…
According to Stupid Rule 1 in my previous post, ‘A Social Experiment,’ I am not allowed to message guys first. To avoid the classic male interpretation of Tinder, aka, “wait for girl to message me first because ‘I love confidence in a woman,’ aka, I’m lazy as fuck and just want to fuck,” I wrote in my own bio, “Chat me up!”
Ryan chatted me up.
“Well, he’s good at following direction and he can read, so this is a good start,” I thought.
“He really does love exclamation points,” I also thought.
It was also his 28th birthday. He doesn’t really know anyone because he’s just moved here, so I felt obliged to make his birthday awesome.
But, being in stage six, this obligation was far from selfless. I’m sure you’ve experienced the powerful abilities of stage six: interruption of logical decision-making, moral judgment, and general ability to assess any situation with hesitation or reservation.
I was relentless in my Tinder charm and confident in my ability to spontaneously meet up with him. We decided on Fate Brewery at 8:05 p.m. Well, I decided on the 8:05 part.
He was a little short for my taste. I felt a little bit like a giraffe standing next to a cheetah. (This statement is a bit dramatic and delusional, but nonetheless, it is how I felt).
I told myself immediately that I would make the most of the night. As far as I was concerned, sex was the last thing that I wanted.
“Tinder God, please, will you bring be a fun, smart, wonderful human being who will re-light the fire in my heart and restore my faith in humanity?”
And that he did.
Ryan and I talked for hours. It took him 20 minutes to even order a birthday beer, which he didn’t get around to finishing.
“You’ve hardly touched your beer,” I said.
“I don’t even care,” he said back.
We talked about his innovative cold weather-related invention. We talked about the eight years he spent sailing around the world on a 60 million dollar yacht, about the glowing green of the seawater and the starlit sky. We talked about him almost getting killed by pirates, and Middle-Eastern bombs, and treacherous sea storms. We talked about our goals and how doing something is better than doing nothing at all.
“That something will bring you to your passion,” we said.
We joked with the bartender and talked with the man sitting two seats over. We laughed at our stories.
I asked him if he wanted to go to this cool amphitheater on a mountain.
“You can see the whole city from there,” I said. “I saw Saturn through a telescope there once.”
“I’d like that,” he said back.
I drove him up the long winding road, apologizing for recklessly speeding around steep curves, warning him of his next near-death experience. I played trippy music. It melted into the cold air that poured in from the open windows. It hummed with the magic and stayed mellow like the blackness of the night.
We sat on a crooked rock. He played me songs and told me his dream of learning the saxophone. I laughed until tears came out of my eyes. He grabbed my shoulders. It felt nice.
The clouds covered the stars and the moon hid in the sky, but still, the night shined brightly.
A part of me wanted to kiss him on that rock, for telling me stories, for giving me laughter, for showing me kindness, but, most of all, for proving to me that magic exists.
After I dropped Ryan off at home, he texted me.
“Thanks again for an awesome night, it was amaze to meet you!” the message said.
“Np! Stranger turned friend instantly. I had a blast :),” I said back.
I used the word friend when he got out of my car. I used it again in the texts that I sent back, once in English and once in French.
I used the word friend because I know that I probably don’t ever want to be his girlfriend or even his American lover. But, I don’t like the thought of losing him either.
I don’t want to lose him at all.
I was thinking that I may just have to store him away as a memory, preserved and untainted.
But then, I remember the way it feels to laugh in the night and I’m thinking that maybe it’s ok to feel like a giraffe for a little while.