Two years ago, I woke up after having flown home the day before from Los Angeles (where I had been staying with friends, who hosted a party that included a man I'd met while teaching) and then from the airport gone straight to a date. The man I met was one I had been excited about, but when I showed up, he was well dressed but unshaven, not really excited about our plans to go Salsa dancing, and we ended up at an oyster bar (I don't like oysters).
Exhausted and slightly deflated the next morning, I slogged out of bed, showered, and welcomed 8 writing students to my home. From 8 until 12, we worked, and then I got in the car, headed to the gym, worked out, dressed, and then powered through to College Avenue where I was to meet my third date of the weekend, a man I had been corresponding with on match.com.
I'd almost let this man slip away--I was teaching and writing and traveling a lot that month. I was busy with my high school senior's activities, and I was dating men I met online and onland. This fellow seemed nice, was persistent, and had a charming smile (at least in photos). What did I have to lose? So I had a stack of 30 essays to grade. There would always be time for those in the evening.
When I arrived at our designated spot. I found that the restaurant we had picked was closing. As I walked out, I noticed a man walk in, someone I recognized. Was it my date? No. So I headed for the sidewalk to wait. As I was waiting, the man I thought I knew approached me. He said, "Are you Jessica?"
"Yes," I said.
I blinked. Dave. Oh, Dave! The man who liked Joyce. Who had actually managed to finish Finnegan's Wake. We started talking. What was I going to do? I wondered. My date would show up, and I'd be talking with a man I had tried to end correspondence with online. Dave went on and on, and as he did, I noticed another man crossing the street. Was it Michael? What would he think of me? Here I was scavenging men up off the sidewalk. It was Michael--but then he kept walking.
Rats. He was cute.
Dave and I kept chatting. I talked about Joyce a little bit more (Please, only The Dubliner's for me) and then I felt a tap on my arm.
It was the man who had crossed the street.
"Hi," he said. "I'm Michael."
That he was.
Two years later, today, I think of that day in February 2006. How it could have gone wrong. How my plane could have been delayed. How the date the night before could have gone so well, I would not have wanted to even teach that morning. How I could have decided to blow off the whole date with Michael and claim fatigue. How Michael could have imagined I'd blown him off and picked up a stranger on the sidewalk and gotten back on BART in a huff. How just about anything in our lives before that could have been different and it wouldn't have been us on the corner of Shafter and College, waiting for each other.
Life's like that. You never know that one day will be that important day. You can't really think those things, anyway. So the point would be to enjoy them all and then look back and think, That was the day I met you. That was our important day.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org