It was a wintry weekend night in December. My friend Yolanda and I were lost in Soho looking for the after party for a movie premiere we had just attended. After walking four blocks in the wrong direction, a nice group of drunk twenty-somethings mapped the route to our destination on one of their iPhones.
We had just about hit the address on Thompson Street, it had to be any one of the next few numbers... We heard reveling coming from a shop window and noticed the party-goers inside were staring at us. I stopped, trying not to be a complete fool by walking past the party we were supposed to attend and having people at the party witness me do so. I went up to the door and Yolanda followed. As I walked in to what I now realized was a coffee shop and bakery (not big enough to fit more than three or four tables), I knew that we had gone to the wrong party.
"Come in, come in!" the man sitting at the door warmly gestured to us in a thick European accent. Another man offered us drinks. Yolanda didn't realize that I had taken her to a strangers' party and so I let her in on the secret as our drinks were being concocted behind the biscotti display on the counter. She just laughed.
Another man came over to get a drink, this man had adorable dimples, messy hair and a very laid back demure. This man was the adorable Italian Cinematographer. I'll refer to him here on out as the AIC.
Yolanda and I chatted with the AIC for close to a half hour. My phone kept vibrating. The host from the movie after party was wondering why we hadn't arrived yet. I gave the AIC my number. His friend insisted we meet up with them later on at a friend's bar on Gold Street.
We didn't end up going to Gold Street later, despite his friend's invitation and the AIC's text messages. Instead, Yolanda and I opted for a late night drink and sweet potato fries at Cafeteria. I had a feeling I'd see the AIC again.
It was the following Friday that I saw him again. We went to a lounge and had Pinot Noir. We talked about our families, our friends, our jobs. He told me about his home in Milan and compared it to NYC. He found NYC far superior. His reasoning was that he found there was far greater cinema and creative talent in Manhattan.
Around 2 am when we left the lounge, I insisted that the weather was far too nice to take a taxi home. Despite that my place was 25 blocks in the wrong direction for him, he walked me all the way to my front steps. He kissed me on both cheeks and asked if he could call me again.
That Sunday night he invited me over to his place for dinner. It had been at least a year since a guy had cooked for me. I attribute that to two things: first, I'm a vegetarian which is all together difficult and confusing to a lot of men; second, this is New York City, men here don't cook, they have online food-ordering accounts.
The AIC was a great cook and it definitely felt like I could get used to his romancing. (Did I just say romance? I feel weird even typing that word). He cooked vegetable risotto and we capped the night off with Italian coffees and watched movie trailers by the director he was currently working with.
For the next week or so we'd see each other and he'd send me sweet text messages saying that taking me out was "always my pleasure" and signing off with "kisses." Who was this guy? If this was the way of the AIC, I never wanted to date an American again.
Except that I was seeing other American men. Nothing special, just fun. Deep down I knew the Italian was just fun also and not "right." I've since realized that I am too young for the "right" guy right now. If he comes along, that's great, but dating all the wrong guys is ok too and it's fun. However, I had not yet has this "wrong guy ok" realization before I sabotaged all of my AIC fun.
Here's how it went down.
We went to see Juno on a Friday night. He wanted to grab food and a drink before the movie, but I told him I was only in the mood for some tea. I wasn't feeling great and instead of telling him that I was under the weather, I just zoned out and had empty conversation. After the movie, it was only 11:30, he said he was in the mood for vino. I said that I was tired and wanted to go to sleep. I was in fact exhausted, but I made the mistake of not sugar-coating it and being a complete drag without telling him that I was getting sick.
He waited for the downtown 1 train as I waited for the uptown. I could see him across the platform and it felt like eternity before the subway got there to wisk me away.
There were no sweet text messages that night. I felt ambivalent.
A few days later, it was New Years Eve day. I was feeling better and thought I'd try to reconcile things with the AIC by getting a coffee with him in his hood. I sent him a text message, but after only a half hour with no response, I called one of the other "wrong" guys for lunch.
The AIC called and texted while I was out to lunch. I didn't answer the call and answered his text with, "Sorry, I'm out, Happy New Year."
I am an asshole.
He sent me text message "kisses" and "wishes" at 4 am on New Years. I didn't respond and I haven't heard from him since.
Maybe things didn't feel "right" with him, but as I said earlier, not being "right" isn't always wrong, especially not when you're a twenty-something in NYC. I did learn this lesson, but time and time again, I feel the need for sabotage and then it starts all over again.
Sometimes I still think about the dimples on his cheeks when he smiles.