: in confidence : secretly
way back in early 2008, i asked a customer out. he was a man who came in to the store semi-frequently; we talked occasionally, usually about our fondness for the early nineties. he was a beautiful japanese-american (american-japanese?) man with long hair and thick-rimmed glasses. alex. 32. he said yes.
our first date started at a diner and moved to a tea shop. we talked for four hours. there were some awkward moments, lots of discussions about personal family stuff, exes, work, goals, art, theories, etc. this was only my second real date as an adult. (the other was also at a tea shop, but with a distracted recovering alcoholic who kept text-messaging his mother.)
there was a second date, at a restaurant in my old neighborhood called SUB ROSA. it was february and it was freezing for portland. it felt like new england. i had put on a sweater that buttoned up the neck. "unbutton that!" snapped my roommate bobbie sue, pulling at the neckline. "show your neck. boys want to see your skin." i did, and the walk to the restaurant was freezing, and i felt stupid for agreeing. alex wasn't the kind of guy who would have cared anyway, but i was insecure about what i did and didn't know about boys and dating. my experience had consisted of two seriously long-term relationships and one make-out session in between with a boy from the philosophy department where i went to college.
our date was later in the evening, after the dinner rush. we shared an artisan pizza. the owner waited our table. she was friendly and talked to us like we were already a couple. we weren't. we developed a rapport with her as if we were going to frequently return and share moments like that. we didn't.
that was the last date. i didn't really care. i liked him but didn't feel a spark, and a few weeks later i met my future boyfriend. alex stopped coming in the store, and i felt bad. we would joke about how i scared him away. about a year and a half later he found me online and said that he had moved back to japan for work. he told me he was coming to visit and wanted to hang out. we had coffee. it was nice.
i walked by SUB ROSA the other day with my sister. "i went on a date there," i said. i've been on so few dates that this actually matters. i will probably never eat there again. how can i? it's already compartmentalized into a nice little spot in the corner of my memory, along with the reminder to button up my sweaters during the winter months.