If you are just seeing this, don’t forget to go back and read the first part of the Team ’76 series: The Intro.
It was a sunny Friday afternoon in Bellevue, WA. I was working at T-Mobile and it must have been company spirit day or something because I was wearing a hot pink jacket. I remember my co-workers also wearing the company color that day and someone was around taking photos of various groups of people in their company colors. I don’t remember much of what happened that day at work, but I do remember being in a meeting with my boss and telling her that I would be leaving a little early that day to go and meet up with a guy that I had been talking to online. She knew that I had been online dating and we had laughed together a few times about some of my previous experiences. I saw that glimmer in her eye at the hint of something new and exciting in my life, but it just made me all the more nervous. I detested first dates.
Although I am a relatively social and friendly person, I am an introvert by nature so meeting people for the first time is never something I generally look forward too. Once everything gets going and I’m “in it”, its OK, but the anticipation for the unknown does a number on my internal organs. Today was no exception. I had met at least 6 or 7 guys through online dating and none of those dates went exceptionally well. This guy Paul who I was meeting today seemed great though our FB messenger chats, but really knew what would happen? Maybe we would end up having nothing to talk about. Maybe our sense of humor wouldn’t be compatible. Maybe we would both be disappointed that something that seemed to be going good online wouldn't match up in person.
Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Paul lived in Olympia, WA which was about 75 miles or so south of the Seattle area. He was going to be up in that area doing some training at a nearby installation so we decided it would be a perfect opportunity to meet. It was August 21st, almost two weeks to the day since we first started chatting online. We decided on Pike Place Market mostly because it is one of the most iconic locations in Seattle and there is just lots to do and see. I suggested meeting in front of the Hard Rock Cafe because it had just recently opened and it was relatively easy to find amongst the hustle and bustle of downtown Seattle. We were texting as I headed downtown and we both knew exactly when we had parked and were headed towards the Hard Rock. Talk about anticipation!
I got to the Cafe first and was waiting out front. Its on a busy street with lots of foot traffic so I was positive I would see him walking towards me way before he got anywhere near me. However, I couldn't look in all directions at once and I felt the tap on my shoulder before I ever saw him. I turned around with a smile and with my hand out to shake, but before I knew it, I was involved in a huge bear hug. I think I said something ridiculous like, “oh, ok this is what we are doing!” We laughed and chatted a little (about what, I have NO idea) and then headed to the market to look around. I distinctly remember walking a little bit behind him because of some people in the way and getting a nice look at his handsome broad shoulders. =)
We walked through the market and ended up sitting in the sun at Victor Steinbrueck Park at the edge of Pike Place. We laughed and joked about our phones because he had just gotten an iPhone and I worked at T-Mobile which at the time didn't carry the iPhone. Conversation flowed and it was apparent that we both felt pretty comfortable with each other despite the awkwardness of this being our first meeting. This was going much better than any other first date I had!
It was getting to around dinner time so we headed back to the market to find something to eat. Since we were in that “first date, don't want to offend the other person or seem to bossy stage” we couldn't settle on a place. We ended up at a restaurant that had outdoor seating that overlooked the market. Little did either of us know that it was a Bolivian restaurant and neither of us really understood what was on the menu but we also didn't know each other well enough to really mention it at the time. I think we both guessed at what we ordered and hoped for the best.
It was at this point that Paul really opened up and told me a LOT about his past. Since I knew from his profile and from our chats that he had two children, I obviously already knew that he had probably been married before. He pretty much shared everything with me during dinner, no holds barred. He laughs now about how he had total verbal diarrhea and can’t believe I ever agreed to go on another date with him after that. I however, loved that he felt comfortable talking about it and that he wasn't trying to put on a show. He was authentic. It was refreshing.
After dinner we still had a little time before he needed to head home, so we decided to go to REI. Now this might seem like a strange choice but at the time we were both relatively into biking (I had just done a triathlon a few weeks earlier and Paul loved to mountain bike.) He had never been to the flagship REI store and it was close by so we walked to his truck and he drove us over there.
We got a little lost in the parking lot but finally made our way inside. We were looking at some of the bicycles and Paul was messing around with the gears on one of them and an associate came over and told him basically to cut it out. We both laughed about it despite that it could have been a potentially embarrassing thing to happen on a first date. We made our way back to the parking lot and he drove me back to my car. It was during this point that we discovered that we were both born in 1976, and he was a little over a month older than me. Through some conversation we discovered we both have a slight obsession with that year and he mentioned how he even referred to himself as “team 1976” (even though I'm not sure who else was on his team at the time.) =)
He dropped me off at my car and neither one of us really said anything about meeting again because, well, thats just a super awkward thing to do on your first date. You don't really have a sense of where the other person is at yet and it's scary to put it all out there, in person, that you might want to see them again. However, I was all smiles on my way home.
I remember texting a friend and saying, “oh no, this could be bad. I like him.”
The first time I met Kyle and when we both “knew” is coming up next week!
Next in the series: The Dating