Last year I spent some time in the Big Apple. My first night in New York was pretty memorable. I’d just been to the theatre with a friend and was heading back to Brooklyn where I was living. I was standing on the subway platform for what seemed like hours. As I leant against the big steel pillar I felt eyes on me, I looked up to see a very handsome man. He was perfectly imperfect. Big eyes, slight stubble and messy hair that had just fallen into the right place.
Then he smiled what I now believe is the most perfect smile. He was reading the New Yorker twirling a pen in his hand, leaning against the opposite pillar with a backpack and head phones around his neck looking totally “welcome to New York” postcard worthy.
The subway came and I cautiously checked I was on the right train. I sat down and he sat on the seat behind me. As we reached the next stop he spun round and put the paper on my knee.
“I’m stumped” he declared loudly as if he was announcing it to the whole carriage.
An African country.
_ _ G_ L _
“Angola” I replied, slightly smug at how quickly I’d got it.
“Niiiice.” He responded quickly filling in the blanks. “English?”
I nodded and went on to explain it was my first night in New York. He enthusiastically offered to take me out on the town. His name was Max. I wasn’t used to someone being so forward. It was nice, straight to the point without out all the headache of mind games.
My friends back home thought I was crazy. A date out in New York with a stranger from the subway. But who knows where it may lead? So the next evening I navigated my way into down town Brooklyn. There he was, wearing a shirt and jeans, looking very handsome and smart.
We walked through the big wide streets. He stopped at an off license or ‘a liquor store’ as he called it in his rather sexy American drawl. Max bought a bottle of red wine and asked the store clerk if he had any plastic cups. All he had were little tiny sample sized cups. So we took a couple and went on our way.
We sat as the sun set by the river looking over at Manhattan. The sun was setting and I learnt all about him, his job as a composer and his years studying in New Orleans. It was perfect, he was funny and sweet – and did attempt an English accent (terribly). We then walked over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan holding hands the whole way.
After eating pizza and going back to Brooklyn he walked me back to my apartment through a children’s playground. It was about midnight and we were sat on the swings still talking. It was rare that I could talk to someone I’d just met with so much openess and ease. It was as I told him a silly anecdote about falling off a swing when I was younger that he leant over and kissed me.
As he did – as if on cue – it began to rain. Of course it began to rain. I stood up as I was getting soaked. Max pulled me into his big overcoat. He smelt so nice and I felt safe and warm for the first time in years. He kissed me for what felt like hours as we stood in the rain. It was just like the movies. All the cliches were there and my heart swelled. Such a perfect night, I was really looking forward to the rest of my trip, perhaps I had a romance brewing.
It was then he decided to tell me.
He had a girlfriend.
Who he lived with.
She was away. Staying with her other boyfriend.
Yes – her other boyfriend.
It was then I learnt about Max’s life style. He was apparently in an open relationship. Not just open to sex with other people but open to serious relationships with other people.
According to Max we can’t possibly expect to give our heart to one person. He invited me to a party to meet his girlfriend and her other boyfriend the following night.
It all made me feel a bit empty as we ended our date that night. Is this what the future holds? In a modern world where we already spread ourselves so thinly will this also become the fate for love?
I’m still hopeful that there is someone out there, somewhere, who will one day be willing to give me the whole of his heart.