The Fairy Tale Turned Reality Show
The story of one of the best dates I've been on in my entire life.
This is a story for all those that have ever secretly hoped that FATE would be the thing that finally saves us.
That one day, life will work out exactly how it should and really, it was always meant to go this way and we just weren't patient enough to let it happen. And when we meet the right one, we'll sit back and say, "Ahh, okay maybeeee this is why it never worked out with anyone else."
I've had this feeling exactly three times in my life. I'm not talking about love. I'm talking about having your socks so utterly knocked off the first time you meet someone. Once, was with someone I dearly loved (7 years ago), the second was at 27 with this ridiculously charismatic and charming British "Prince", and the last time being the story starting in August of 2017.
Was my fairy tale story finally happening, or would it end how most stories do in life, realistically? If you're a hopeless romantic, you'll like this one.
How the story begins.
I saw him about a year and a half ago on Bumble. Propped up in bed, I swipe left, left, left. Blahhhghghghghghghgg. I hate this.
And then suddenly, ohmygod.
I had never seen a cuter man in my entire life. Blonde, Blue-eyed, pearly white smile and AND HE WAS BRITISH! Wait....we also had two friends in common. I texted one of them immediately:
“This is a bit crazy, but who is this guy (screenshot) and how do you know him? I just saw him on Bumble and it says you're a mutual friend."
“Ohhh yeah he was in school below me. Want me to intro?”
“Nah, we haven’t matched yet and that would be weird. Let’s just see if he does swipe right and let fate take its course.”
So naturally, nothing happened. A year goes by and I completely forget about it.
That one time I prayed to God.
Then a few months ago I have a bad day at work. A monumentally bad day at work mixed with the fact that I was also fairly upset about ending things with another guy I liked and so I came home and decided to eat a panini in bed from my neighborhood Bodega and watch Life is Beautiful (the most heartfelt/depressing movie of all time) - to bask in the sadness that was life that day.
And on top of it. I prayed to God.
Forewarning, I’m not religious. I don’t go to church. And really, the only other time I put my two hands together and look up to the sky is when I’m selfishly on an airplane and think, "If he is real, he’ll just forgive me for being so selfish with my communication, because hey, I’m a damn good person."
But that night, I wasn’t on an airplane and decided to give it a shot. I asked him why it’s taken so long for me to meet someone I'm meant to start a life with? Could he just send me a sign or make something happen already? I’m thirty freaking one. Please God.
And to take it up a notch I had a journal by my bedside. It was from a trip I took to Guatemala (just about the time I was on Bumble that one fate-ful night). It was a writing and meditation retreat where each day we were given a prompt to write about.
My favorite one being (because I'm a dreamer):
If I could get everything I wanted in life, what would it be...what would it look like?”
When I started writing I realized that I didn’t want anything superficial or unobtainable. My dream life was to:
Wake up next to sweet man with blonde hair that was always messy but adorable. To tell stories to each other before we go to bed each night. For him to have the craziest travel adventures I could barely believe them. For us to have kids braver and stronger than we ever were. For them to have my mother’s and brother’s selflessness. Have my dad’s unique sense of humor.
It went onnnn but you get the gist. And so I fell asleep, journal tucked under my pillow.
The next morning I wake up, and I didn't have A SINGLE romantic dream. C'monnnn! I go to work having just another regular day, still a bit sad about the day before.
Then mid-afternoon, 12 hours later, I get a text! That "mutual friend" put me on a group thread.
“Hey, my guy friend just moved to NYC. You guys are both great. You should definitely get some drinks.”
Separately, the friend texts me his LinkedIn profile. I click on the link and it’s BUMBLE DREAM MAN. I immediately text mutual friend.
“OMG do you remember me asking about this guy?”
“I do” he said. “I randomly ran into him at a BBQ the other day and he told me he was moving to NYC - so maybe he was just passing through when you saw him on the app - and I remembered to make a point to connect you two. You're welcome."
The first fairy tale date
So, the first date happens. He could have been boring or conceited. It could have been extremely built up. But no. We have drinks on a cotton-candy pink sunset kind of night. He’s CUTER than his photos.
Literally, think Brad Pitt sitting in a linen shirt with your favorite glass of French Burgundy wine waiting for your arrival. That happened.
We laughed for hours on the bow of an old refurbished ship that overlooks the Hudson Bay. He was awkwardly and overly sarcastic, but in the right way. We talk about our love of WWII history or the fact that we worked for separate startups that mimicked Snapchat back in the day. And 3 hours on a school-night later, we get up to leave.
Maybe because it caught our eye, or probably because we weren't quite ready to say goodbye, we approach this bench overlooking some volleyball courts. We start people watching, and without realizing it, start making up this this scenario game where we connect life stories to the strangers playing.
“That’s Kevin Lee, he works in accounts payable.”
Just 30 minutes of finishing each other's stories and sentences. It was a better than average, excellent, first meet-cute.
Grandma knows best.
We text a few days later and he mentions a trip coming up to visit his Grandma. I had a really special relationship with mine, so I immediately thought it was cute. I asked him what the occasion was and he responds back saying, "She's very sick and I'm going to go help find her lost Jade ring". What a unique comment, but my heart stops.
I look down at my hand and see the Jade ring I've worn every day for the past 7 years. It was the last gift my Grandma ever gave me before she passed away. I call it my signature jewelry item. I then send him a picture of it.
"Wow a Jade ring! What are the chances?! Maybe that's what Grannies do...buy Jade rings?"
Maybe, except I've never known someone else to really have one. How odd we'd have that in common...
The second fairy tale date
Then a month goes by with travel etc. and we meet up again.
This time, it’s BIBLICALLY better.
We decide to go on a double-decker tour bus around NYC. Earlier in the day, he mentioned he wanted to go on a unique date where we didn't have to "stare at each other". So, night tour of the city it was! I happened to have a meeting downtown and by the time it ended and the bus took off, I'd have about 20 minutes to make it.
If you live in Manhattan, you know this is almost an impossible feat to go 40 blocks uptown that quickly. I tell my uber driver that I needed him to politely hurry because I had a very important event I couldn't miss. Stuck in traffic, I tell him the brief story for why I was asking him to put the pedal to the metal. He loves it.
A fellow love junkie, he tells me the story of how he met his wife.
As a new immigrant in the 1970s, he started picking up ends meet as a taxi driver, scared shitless with little to no driving experience. Learning the ropes of this crazy city, the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen enters his cab. Boldly giving her his number, she accepts his proposal for one epic salsa dancing date, and 3 children and several grandkids later, he's whizzing illegally in and out of traffic to get me to the bus stop with just a minute or two to spare.
When I shut the door we both look at each other and he tells me with kind eyes, "Good luck". He got it.
On the bus, we sneak on hot dogs and wine, with one earbud in listening to "alternative facts" and the other left out in order to hear each other laugh at our ridiculously awesome date.
Afterwards, we walk around Times Square deciding our next move. What could possibly beat the bus ride? Sometimes, rarely, you can have this feeling with another person where it doesn't matter wherever you are in the entire world, you just completely enjoy their company. Whether or not we had sat down in the middle of the street, or popped into the grimiest dive bar...I had that feeling.
We head to Grand Central Station and play our people watching game. We chose some guy carrying a saxophone, and two suburban looking couples I guessed to be from the outskirts of Chicago, but when he asked, were really from somewhere in Europe.
We take an adorable photo on the balcony and kiss. We have drinks in the speakeasy inside the station. We get deep and talk about our families. Then it was 2am and time to go home.
At this point it was so much fun, I started to get nervous. I head to the bathroom to freshen up because I knew we were about to kiss again. But, because it was a 90-degree night, my Listerine strips had melted together, and I accidentally put about 5 in my mouth. I walk out of the bathroom and literally Listerine bomb him in the face with my uber minty breath! He takes one as well to be even keeled, and we kiss very briefly again - with an arctic blast. We then hold hands the entire uber ride home (yes, he just dropped me off).
The date was pretty epic when I recall all of the details. However, it wasn't our picturesque surroundings that made it stand out. I've had a few other movie-like dates.
This guy hit it on so many levels. If there were 75 levels to hit, from conversation to chemistry, to sensitivity, humor, EQ, life experience, amazing stories, he hit almost all of them (i.e. my journal entry IRL?!). I've been fortunate enough to make friends with many interesting people in my day, and I go on a lot of lovely dates, but the complexity of this guy stood out to me.
But, was it hyperbolized in my head from everything that happened...the dating app, mutual friend, praying to God etc...OR was it real?
The reality show starts.
Unfortunately, the fairy tale soon ended and the reality show starts. Because he didn't text me the next day. Or ask to see me that weekend. And a week goes by until I have to be the one to reach out and see if we’d have round number 3.
And the answer was no...
I received a kind and long reply that he was still involved with his ex and his head and heart weren’t into starting anything new.
And what happens when seven strangers live in a house...REALITY.
Maybe it freaked him out it went so well or maybe he just wasn't that into it - in a romantic sense at least. A few weeks went by where I was bummed. I mean, pretty damn bummed. WHY would all of this coincidentally happen for nothing?
Is fate just a made up thing?
Yes and no.
I started to get some clarity that the fairy tale I thought was happening was only playing on the TV in my mind, not his. He didn’t know anything about the app, the mutual friend, the journal, etc.
He simply.... got a text from a friend during his first few weeks of moving to NYC intro'ing him to a girl that was really cool. Had two really great dates, maybe really really great. But he wasn’t ready to pick just one. The connection was amazing, but how on earth would he know it was amazing if he didn’t have 10 other dates to compare it to? You can’t have good without bad. He wasn’t an unemotional or horrible guy.
He just saw our interactions in a completely different way. Great, but not groundbreaking.
When you create narratives in your head about meeting someone new, it just confuses more than clarifies a connection. Our commonalities did seem to be out of the ordinary, but I wish I had taken them a lot less seriously because the connection was still so new and casual.
Perhaps I should have remembered that that sometimes beautiful nights do happen, but they don't always have an entire story with multiple chapters attached to them.
Sometimes, life just happens. You find a dollar on the street, you spill coffee on your shirt before an interview. You have one or two magical nights in New York City that you'll never forget. Bumble connects you with people that are more likely to be in your inner circle, so naturally, you see a mutual friend on the app.
The journal thing? I don’t quite get.
But what I do get, is that you can only live in fantasy land for so long until reality hits you. You don't get caught up in an episode that is over. You go to the next one.
Amazing coincidences happen in life, but they're never the full story.
He was a good person, that was a fact. I liked him, and YES we had a really good connection as you've just read all the details.
But I didn’t really know him.
He could have been cheap. He could have been selfish. We could have had the worst sex life of all time. All I knew was the tale that I had written, made up, and got caught up with.
No more television.
Ironically, the very first lesson I learned in this story ended up being my last as well.
You have to let fate take its course.
It may bring certain things into your life. But if it also kicks something out of it, then you must believe that's for a reason too. And don’t they say fairytales are meant to be shared and read?
Maybe, just maybe, it was all just for writing this story for you to read.