I Have No Idea How To Date

This is the story of my (perhaps the?) craziest first date ever, and why I no longer have any idea what a good first date looks like.

5 years ago, I was just finishing up massage school. To graduate we needed 50 hours of hands-on time in the school clinic as an intern. My 49th client was a girl about my age that I just instantly started crushing on. Super cute and charming, getting a massage because she’s sore from rock climbing. I felt like there was a really strong mutual attraction throughout the whole session, and she wrote a glowing review for me at the end. When she left, I was bummed that I would certainly never see her again, since I couldn’t really pursue her given the situation.

Later that night I was hanging out with my best friend Jessica, who had set me down the massage therapy path. I joked with her that I fell in love with a client. She said, “that’s good, you should feel a connection with your clients!” And I was like, “nah, that’s not something I really want to deal with ever again.”

A week later I saw Jessica again, and I learned about her hobby scouring craigslist missed connections. She told me that she saw an ad that looked like it could’ve been for me, from the girl I saw in the clinic on my last day. We went online to find it, but it had been deleted! Jessica remembered enough details for me to be absolutely certain it was her, so I looked her up by name on facebook and sent her a message. In the message I basically said, “I know I’m not supposed to contact you but I was informed that you’d tried to reach out on craigslist, so lets go out.”

Half an hour later I have a reply. (Later I learned that this was yet another in this chain of unlikely occurrences, since Facebook filters messages from people who aren’t your friend into a hidden directory that you may never see – she only just happened to check that directory at that moment based on advice from her friend).

She immediately suggests that we meet up the next day, which was a Sunday. I normally worked Sunday nights, but conveniently I had already requested that night off weeks earlier. I was planning to go camping at Enchanted Rock to observe the Perseid meteor shower, which was due to reach its peak intensity that night. When I explained that to her, she said she wouldn’t let me pass up those plans for a coffee date. So I said, “well, I’d invite you but that seems a little extreme for a first date.”

Her response was, “In this case, extreme = awesome and we should go.”

So we did it. I picked her up from her apartment that Sunday afternoon and we started the hour and a half trip towards Enchanted Rock together. On the way, with the windows down and volume up, we took turns playing our favorite musics for each other. She played The Knife, Santigold, and The Naked and Famous. I played Tobacco, Com Truise, and Death Grips (yes, the song that goes, “head of a trick in a bucket, body of a trick in a bag…”). It was electric. The car ride almost wasn’t long enough, we were both completely enthralled with each other.

There was never a dull moment the entire night. I’ve never been super smooth, but her innate charm brought out my inner Casanova. We started out by hiking to the peak with all of our gear, stopping to smoke a bowl and watch the sun set with the first few meteors. I said something cheesy about the stars aligning, she swooned. (I had no idea what a “swoon” was until this very moment.) She waxed poetic for a few minutes about familiarity and the classic dilemma of “what’s in a name?” After listening for a while, I joked, “Are you trying to tell me your name’s not really Ashley?” She laughed like it was the wittiest thing she’d ever heard and it made me feel like I was on top of the world.

It was already dark when we set off to find the camp site. We were aiming for the “primitive” camp grounds, the ones that are a few miles away from the park entrance and have no amenities. As we were coming down from the hill, I stopped her and gave her a kiss. This was also the first time I’d looked behind us on the trail, and I saw a couple of flashlights wandering towards us and got spooked, since we were technically past curfew in this part of the park. Still being stoned I got paranoid and stopped kissing her, and shuffled us along towards our destination. about 15 minutes later I lamented that I killed the moment by getting paranoid, she said, “You’ve been worrying about that this whole time, haven’t you?” She already knew me too well.

When I dropped her back off at her apartment the next morning, we agreed that it felt like we’d already known each other for months. We dated passionately for another 5 months after that, and then it ended about as fast as it started when she randomly started talking bad about my family.

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