That Bearded Dude

Saturday mornings, I typically frequent my favorite Upper West Side diner. Sitting with a cup of coffee, I often wondered if I would ever find romance. Grindr, Tinder, & Okcupid, I was on every dating site. Yet, I couldn’t even get a handshake from perspective dates.

Something peculiar happened when I left for a holiday in Portland. I met a guy, at a gay bar. I only happened to travel 2,454 miles to find him. On my last night in Portland, we sat across from each other at a wine bar, which could easily fit in (New York’s) West Village.

It was utterly romantic and terribly cliché. “Hey do you wanna go to Voodoo donuts,” he asked. Secretly, I did want to go. Rather than playing it cool, I shook my head with great enthusiasm.

Noshing on maple-bacon donuts, I glared into the pavement. It was gritty and grungy, the great 90’s alternative rock bands would approve. While eating our hearty donuts, we decided to take the plunge. I experienced some fear, since it had been a while. He grabbed my hand and led me to a dark den with glowing lights.

I know what you’re thinking this isn’t a romance novel, is it? Correct, we didn’t end up some seedy hotel room, but in a video game arcade. It was the boozy, 21 and over arcade, naturally. We competed with each other on various video games.

As expected, I really sucked at shooting ducks and driving racecars. Continually, he beat me in every game. I hated loosing. In my defense, I hadn’t played a video game, since the Clinton administration.

Sensing my frustration with continual loses, he grabbed and kissed me. In the midst of pinball machines and Japanese pop music, I fell for a guy in the most unexpected of places.

We took a walk alongside gritty Burnside, holding hands. Then we came to an obvious, but shocking fact. “What are we going to do now? It’s your last night. I live in Portland. You live in New York, but I’ve never felt this way about a guy before,” asked my beloved, Oregonian.

Frustrated, I had fallen off the puffy cloud of fantasy. In the echoing sounds of street musicians and wind speeds, I grew dumbfounded. “That’s right, we just happened to have a whole continent, separating us,” I said, with relative sarcasm.

It was a terribly emotional moment. “Why couldn’t I’ve met this guy in New York? I wish he would just move in with me.” The awkwardness grew. Rather than dwell on specifics, we reveled our last night together.

Toward the end of the evening, I walked him to the Max (the Portland streetcar). It arrived, too quickly. Giving him one last kiss, I bid him, farewell. It was truly the end of a spectacular holiday.

The next day, I was riding in a cab to Portland International Airport. I received a text, “You’re complicated, but I adore you” he wrote. Giggling, I wrote back, “It takes a complicated guy to know a complicated guy. I adore you too.” He sent a smile-y face.

Taking in a deep breath, I stared at his picture. “If this is actually true romance, I’ll be seeing you again soon,” I declared with confidence. I arrived at the airport, hoped on a plane and left my heart in Portland.

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