Arianna picked the place and I got there a little late, which is uncharacteristic of me. I’d come to meet her after work and the walk took me a little longer than expected (she’d picked the place we would meet, knowing the neighborhood better than I do). I arrived just before she did, poking my head inside to see if she was waiting before spotting her walking up the street.
Standing on the sidewalk I watched her approach, taking note of her gait and her purposeful stride as she covered the distance between the two of us. Her blonde hair is short and cut in an angular way that frames her bright smile and eyes which were hidden behind her dark sunglasses. She gave the immediate impression of intelligence and self awareness and I liked that; everything about her had a bit of sparkle to it.
We’d been talking via a dating app and text messaging for a week and during that time I’d learned that she was here studying for her PhD. I also came to realize that strangely we’d lived in both New Orleans and New York at roughly the same time, even possibly sharing a postal code once. She loves to travel and is more than happy to explore the city alone, but like myself, she would rather do it with someone else.
She travels to remote places for work often and has a lot of great stories about the places she’s been. She recounted the terror of having been in a shark cage but her story only made me want to have that experience for myself. She’s been places and done amazing things that I haven’t and I really find that very appealing.
We’d spoken in passing about my work and how that often shuts down the conversation and while she seemed perhaps a little hesitant, it wasn’t enough reason to prevent her from accepting my invitation to go see a movie and have drinks. I hadn’t told her about this blog though, or about my time in front of the camera for that matter; only the work that I do now, which is mostly done inside a pretty average office.
There is a moment that my friend Clara refers to as ‘the reveal’ in dates like these, where the question comes up that makes keeping things vague difficult and I inevitably answer honestly about my work. It’s not something that’s often very fun and while sometimes it’s taken quite well, other times it can make the rest of a date awkward.
That ‘reveal’ moment happened with Arianna while we sat next to each other at the bar, drinking cocktails and waiting for the movie. We were talking about putting out fires at work and she laughed saying how that must mean very different things for each of us. She gave me an example of what it was like in medical research and I asked me what the last one that I’d had to put out was.
I answered her honestly about a situation that had come up with a director and I saw her counting the degrees of separation between myself and talent. She was polite and asked follow-up questions, laughing a little along the way, but I could see that it had all become a little more real in that moment and the tempo of the conversation fell a bit, as did the corners of her mouth.
After the conversation about my work, something in the tone of the conversation had changed. It wasn’t huge and it wasn’t glaring, but the rythm was different and the back and forth report we’d had before wasn’t coming as easily. It made me think about all the things that she didn’t know yet and I wondered at what point it would prove to be too much. Having performed? Seeing other people? This wasn’t the line, but I felt like I’d find it sooner or later.