THE DATE I ALMOST DIDN'T GO ON
I was typing out the word ‘no,’ followed by a logical, long-winded explanation. I didn’t want to say no - I wanted to say the exact opposite. But there were a lot of things happening with my family at the time, and saying no felt like the only viable option. Truth is, going on this date was all I wanted. He felt like the right fit, you know? It was a natural instinct - I was positive that this was my person. My human. It was just not the right time. But would there be another time? I quickly backtracked, deleting my text in its entirety, and typed ‘yes’.
The date was going to be informal - just a simple day walking around Manhattan in the dead of winter. We’d go wherever our feet led us. I’m a planning type of person, but it felt safe to not have one. There was endless opportunity, so I hopped on the train that evening with a bundle of butterflies in my belly, and let it take me where it needed to go. I admit - I almost backed out when I was halfway through the ride. Anxiety started to settle in, and although I really didn’t want to change my mind, I just felt genuine nerves. Where could this date even go, with everything that was happening in my personal life at the time?
I ended up shifting in my seat the entire train ride, but arriving at my destination. Getting off the train was a bit of a struggle - but dad really wanted me to go on this date. I told him about it, somewhat hoping that he’d tell me not to go, to stay home with him. But instead, he was excited, just as I expected him to be. He told me, “just be yourself, and everything will work out in the end”. He said to go, so I went.
Have you ever wanted to protect someone from your own pool of grief, or struggle? If you’ve gone through something traumatic, it’s normal to want to keep those you care about away from it. I don’t think any of us want others to experience our stressors. And that’s what I was trying to do. We had never met before - just texted. He didn’t truly know me, so how could I drag him through my family’s fire? My dad had stage 4 lung and brain cancer at the time. He was very, very sick; near the end. The last thing I wanted to do was introduce him to the darkness of cancer. He had never met my dad - let alone me. Saying no to the date was the only way I could really protect him from this.
But my dad wanted me to say yes. He wanted to see me enjoy myself for a singular night, just one. Escape the stress. Be myself. He just wanted to watch my face transform into a total smile. This is why I backtracked and said yes. I gave the answer I actually wanted to give, with dad’s approval.
It turned out that not having a plan was the best plan. We did absolutely nothing but run around the city, frozen hand in frozen hand, stopping in every store we could find. We didn’t buy anything. We didn’t go to a show or attraction. There really was no agenda. That night revolved around time spent together. To think that I almost said no is worrisome, because now he’s my fiance. Everyone around me wanted me to go, just to experience a night of normalcy. I got that, but I gained so much more. We often think about the date that I almost didn’t go on, because it ended up being the catalyst. That was more than seven years ago, and now, we’re planning our wedding.
Go on that date. Be selfish for a moment. You won’t regret your choice.