I ended a three year off-and-on again and again “relationship” in November. I say “relationship” because that is probably not be the best word to describe it. Maybe something more along the lines of I-was-in-love-but-he-kept-me-a-secret is more appropriate. Yes, it was just as degrading as it sounds. Oh, young love. Moving on… My life for the past two months has been amazing. I have no shame, I downloaded all the dating or whatever you want to call them apps and started swiping away. I learned all about “ghosting” (terrible), went on some horrific dates, and met some very fascinating people. It was in one fell swipe, if you will, that I realized just how beautifully treacherous this whole game could be.
I’m pretty straightforward and prefer to keep things simple. My profile from tinder to insta to twitter to here all say the same thing: Native Texan. Frequent giggler. Shoe lover. Movie Junkie. I think that pretty much covers anything one could want to know and I can answer whatever questions from there. So when Steven came straight at me saying he read my page as “frequent juggler” instead, I was rolling. In less than three messages, he made the most mildly inappropriate joke (seriously, it was as if hearing a sweet, old church lady swear…you just smirk at it and giggle under your breath) and then began apologizing repeatedly. Again, I crack up. I was hooked. Conversation was effortless. He’s a musician (duh, this is Nashville). He loves really well written movies. He’s got a solid sense of humor. He lives in England.
Ugh. Of course.
I believe he called it “tindering irresponsibly,” which I found horribly adorable. We talked about where we were from. I googled his town furiously. (It’s seemingly lovely, in case you were wondering.) I asked how long he would be in town. Only a few more days. I said I’d love to meet up. His response? “And if we fall hopelessly in love? It’s quite a gamble.” ….Y’all…
I promise him we won’t fall in love. He says he’ll be his least charming self. I don’t believe this for a second. He tells me to wear something shit. I’m laughing again.
We talked almost non-stop for the next four days. I had a few dates in between and enjoyed all but one — which is another story for another day. But then it was Monday. Monday was for Steven, and I was excited.
We met at a place that neither of us had ever been, but that was known for its well-made drinks. He was sitting right in front of me when I walked in. He looked up and the most sheepish smile spread across his face. He stood up, kissed me on the cheek, pulled out my chair, and slid me a menu. We talked about the work he’s doing here in town; the weather and how ill-prepared he was for it. I forget how much I typically loathe the English language until I’ve heard someone speak Proper English. He could have read the menu to me for the entirety of the night and I’d have been content. He asked me to tell him my story — how I came to Nashville, what made it home for me, and what I wanted to be doing. In that moment, I couldn’t think of another thing I’d rather be doing or another person I’d rather spend an evening chatting with. We laughed at each other. Scoffed at our exes. We spoke our opinions on politics and I was fascinated to see how we’re viewed on a global scale. We had shared opinions on religion, on family, on music and art. He told me I had a very British world view and would fit in rather nicely. I wasn’t upset about it.
As the hours ticked by, I remembered that he mentioned he had some industry schmoozing to do later on. We had lost track of time and he says “fuck it…I knew I already didn’t want to leave the moment I saw you.” I laughed and reminded him that we’d made a deal and we shouldn’t treat it with such incivility. Suddenly his face went stoic. He looked me dead in the eye and — I swear I’m not making this up — said “isn’t incivility the very essence of love?”
I do. The answer is I do. WHO QUOTES PRIDE AND PREJUDICE ON A FIRST AND, SADLY, PROBABLY LAST DATE?! Someone who wants me to be miserable at this loss forever, that’s who!
It was at this moment — three drinks in and laughing loudly at my own story, of course — that I realized he was just looking at me with the simplest grin. I quickly contained myself and then immediately felt exposed. We didn’t say another word for a few minutes. We just looked at each other. It had only been a few hours and I felt as if I was reconnecting with an old friend. The bartender let us know it was time to close up. He said he wasn’t ready to go home just yet, so we ordered a lyft to head to the only place I could think of that was still open at 11 pm on a Monday night to eat.
Earlier in the night, Steven had asked me why I loved Nashville. This city was built on and for dreamers. It took me a long time to realize that those dreamers weren’t limited to musicians. There is so much art to appreciate here. So whether I’m at a ballet or a honky tonk, my hair salon or an amphitheater, sitting across from my nail technician or sitting in on a songwriting session — I get to see and experience art every single day. I love allowing my friends to be creative around me and I love sharing in the joy of their passions. He said he’d never seen someone so blatantly amazed at the struggle of art. But that’s just how I’ve always been — moved to tears, anger or peace by a dance, a song, or some colors on a canvas. So when we’re driving down the road talking with our driver — a self-proclaimed washed out rapper — about the perils of the music industry and the best era for rap, I was in heaven. Hearing someone else say almost exactly what I had told Steven before was amazing. It made me love the city even more. Then, something happened I was not prepared for. Steven started talking rap music and about the greatest lyricists with this dude. He even talked about some that the rapper/driver hadn’t heard of himself. Their instant camaraderie made my heart soar. Two strangers, from a world apart, bonding over art. It was a sight to behold. I’m certain I had to pick my jaw up off the floor when Steven started spitting out lyrics in his perfectly British accent, but he nailed them beat by beat and then shot me a cheeky wink.
At the restaurant, our waitress looked quite tired. It was, after all, 11pm. But the second Steven opened his mouth and ordered a drink and asked what she recommended on the menu, her face flushed and she lit up. Accents do crazy things to American women, I tell ya. I never thought it were actually possible to not run out of things to say, but I can’t remember a single lull in conversation over the 7 hours we spent together. It honestly felt like we were the only two people in the world.
Our dinner was lovely, but then we decided it was rather late…nearly 1 at this point. He didn’t want me to drive so we took another lyft back to my house. He came inside and played with my dog while I put on some coffee and watched my dog fall in love with him. We chatted for a while longer and then it was time for him to leave. A driver was 20 minutes away, so we stood there in an embrace for a lot longer than I normally let people hug me. Steven asked me where I’d been all his life. I laughed at how horribly cliche that sounded. He brushed my hair out of my face and then he kissed me. “I’m sorry, but I*’m afraid I’ve lied to you.” I pulled away and looked at him quizzically, scenes from Making a Murderer now flashing in my mind. “I cannot keep my promise to you any longer. You, my darling, are a treasure. I don’t know how I’m to leave tomorrow.” This whole thing feels like a prank. But he just leaned down and kissed me more.
Steven left the next day. It was rainy and cold and felt horribly appropriate. I may never see him again, but his voice, his laugh, his smile all echo in my mind. It’s a beautiful sound, the most beautiful art of all, that I hope I never forget.