of the first date
of a woman's quest to find a man of her dreams after 30......By Nancy Ryder
cold winter day in December, with light snow falling, I accompanied my mother to an event in the Town
Hall. My mother had taken me to dozens of such events and I enjoyed each one of them. In fact I liked these get-togethers so much that often times I would not even ask her what the event was about, go there,
meet some new
people, have a good time, and then think about the next one. This event did not seem particularly different to me but it actually turned out be life-changing experience for me.
||Several politicians from the town wanted to change the image of our town as a friendly city for doing business. With corn fields producing some of the best corn in America, local politicians wanted to encourage exports from the area, hoping to revive the
economy in a time of recession. As a first step in that direction, they invited every single foreigner that they could find to a get-to-know-your-town ceremony. It was not easy to find enough foreigners but it appeared that 50 or so foreigners showed up – mostly young people (the politicians wanted businesspeople but there are hardly any non-American businesses in the Detroit area) who were university students. No formal activities were scheduled and the event was designed to let people just mix and get to know each other.
With almost 125 people packed, it almost looked like a large family get-together. I was trying to have a good time, and of course, try all the delicacies provided by local restaurants. It so happened that as I returned to the table for an additional helping of sushi. I filled my plate and turned to join a small group that I was part of. There he was – a man who looked to be in his late
20s. He was not a Caucasian as many men in the room were, wearing a light gray turtleneck
sweater and olive green slacks. He appeared to be
shy and I realized that I had not noticed him all along. As I made
eye-contact with him, my heart missed a beat. Not that he was unusually handsome, but for a fraction of a second, he looked at me as a man looks at a woman, when he is
desire. I did not know this look in a man before but I had seen it in the movies. My throat felt dry and I completely forgot that I had chopsticks ready to grab that delicious sushi on my dish.
||It was only a matter of seconds but
I was so nervous that it felt like a lifetime. I almost felt the hall turning silent and all I could hear was my heart beat. He realized that he had
startled me and had almost made me nervous and apparently tried to help me – by not saying anything, and standing there, just smiling. While I initially thought of him as shy, for a moment, I even wondered if he was deriving some
sadistic pleasure from my suffering. Blood rushed to my brain and I managed to smile. I replaced the chopsticks on the dish that I was holding in my left hand and ran the right hand through my hair – my hair was still in place – I guess I was still in place.
He introduced himself– carefully structured sentences, slowly spoken with practically no accent, and delivered with confidence. I felt a connection there; I also spoke like that. By now, I was fully awake and had realized that I was in a party with a large number of people I did not know. I could no longer manage to be elsewhere mentally. I saw all around us and realized that the rest of the world was totally oblivious to my suffering and I had to handle this alone. Don, as he introduced himself, had been in the area for approximately four months. While we both struggled to find the right words to say to each other, combination of words and gestures, enabled us to engage in a
meaningful conversation. He proposed that we go to a quieter place so that we could talk.
Outside the hall that we were
in was a lobby with a large staircase leading to the second floor. Half way up the stairs was a landing with large glass windows from where one could see the outline of the wooded area in the background. We walked up the stairs and sat down on the steps. Snow was still falling and it was hard to see too far but it was indeed beautiful to see the snow. I have always enjoyed watching the snow fall but the scene from the window gave me an opportunity not to make eye contact with Don. He did not ask me the stupid questions that I was so used to answering to men.
Don wanted to know about my dreams,
perspective on the rights of women in
society, and what I thought about
Albert Camus’ writings, whose name I mentioned while boasting my reading habits. I was awed by his intellect and command of complex issues related to condition of
women. I tried to pretend that I was not just another
19-year old girl worried about fashion and boys. While our conversation was not like any other that I have had with a man, I felt drawn to him – his intellect, his
confidence, and his charm. In those few minutes, he stood before me as a man I had wanted all my life but had never met before. I felt weak and inferior in front of him but not because he was making me feel so. On the other hand, he would listen to me as if I was a Nobel prize winner delivering a keynote address on “The role of women in the global village”.
He caught on to every word I said and asked me questions that forced me to think about issues that
19-year olds typically do not bother.
“You are a very bright woman and I am very attracted to you,”
saying this, he held my hand without even asking. I was feeling quiet uncomfortable – especially because it was not a very private place and my mother could show up any moment. I felt a genuine warmth as he held my hand and did not have the courage or the desire to pull it, I felt even weaker. Don firmly held my hand and spread the palm.
As if he knew, he gently wiped it with his hand, taking away the sweat that had accumulated there during last half hour.
“I do not want this conversation to end here. This is just the beginning of what I think will be an adventure of a lifetime,”
he commented. Saying this, I saw him scurrying for a pen and paper to write something. He did manage to find a pen but no paper. He looked around and finding nothing took the Styrofoam dish from my hand, threw away all the
sushi that I was planning to eat, and flipped the bottom for me to write my phone number. He used the napkin to clean it, folded the dish, and neatly inserted it into the inner pocket of his jacket.
It was not long before I realized that my mother came looking for me. Seeing my flushed face, a man sitting next to me holding my hand, she knew what was going on. In her typical style, she pretended as if she saw nothing because Don made no attempt to let go of my hand. She acted very pleasant towards Don when I introduced him to her – for a moment I even suspected that she was as pleased to know him as I was. My mother was an amazing woman – there were occasions when I thought she was a monster when she would force me to do things against my will; on other occasions, she was an angel and I thought I saw the angel then, when she looked at Don and I sheepishly walking down the staircase.
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