Remember that one time I had the perfect first date?
I had known him my entire life. Our mothers were best friends in high school. By the time we were born, their friendship had already passed the decade mark. We hung out as families a few times a year but almost always as a spontaneous get together. Their family lived in the same neighborhood as my grandmother. Visiting my grandmother often meant stopping for a “quick hello” to see them first since we were nearby.
As children he and I didn’t really connect. He, his little brother, and mine all loved sports. They could play basketball forever. I preferred to sit upstairs under our mothers feet working on my Highlighter magazines. We were different, but our mothers loved one another. So for years there was more hanging around, than hanging out… until.
At 16, we had another spontaneous meeting. We were driving to visit my grandmother when we came upon the house of her friend. She noticed all the cars were in the driveway. I asked my mom how long it had been since she had seen her friend. “Long time,” she responded. I could tell by the look on her face that she wanted to stop. I nodded at her before she started her question. “Yeah, we can stop, Momma.” I figured if I got bored I was old enough to walk to my grandmother’s house now. Plus it was fun to watch my mom with her long time friend. I enjoyed seeing her come alive that way.
What I did not expect was the gorgeous 16 year old, young man who opened the door.
His big brown eyes were deep as ever, shining under his big fro. His athletic build was obvious- he clearly played ball, and not just in the driveway anymore. His skin was glowing, the same golden bronze as his mom. He smiled as he let us in and I thought I might melt into a puddle right there in this living room I had visited more times than I could count. I begged my knees to cooperate and keep walking.
Our mothers disappeared into the kitchen. We stayed in the living room. I have no idea where our little brothers went. We talked as long as our moms did. Our curiosity about one another must have been radiating through the entire house. Gone were the little kids who were polite but uninterested. In their place, now sat two teenagers who were very interested.
When it was time to go he asked if we could go see a movie together. He didn’t hesitate- strong, confident, but also eager, hopeful. My heart leapt. “Sure, I’d like that,” I said. We made a plan before I headed to the car. Who imagined my first date would be with someone I’ve known my entire life? I looked at my mom in the car and squealed.
On the day of our date, he and his dad arrived at exactly 7pm. Neither of us had an official license, so it was Mr. Jackson who pulled up in the car. Ryan came to the door to collect me and we both slid in the backseat.
My braids were pulled into a ponytail on top of my head- had to make those cheek bones pop! I had on my favorite blue jean skirt with an asymmetrical cut. My tee shirt was baby blue and made my chest look far more significant it actually was. I wore very little make-up, somehow knowing he’d appreciate… me.
Ryan had on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt. His hair was a perfect fro. I thought his cologne might intoxicate me. Was it hot in here, or is it just summer? I wasn’t sure.
On the way to the theater, his father asked lots of questions. What movie are going to see? What time does it start? How long will it last? Do you have quarters? All the questions parents had to ask before the internet and cell phones.
Once we arrived, his father turned to the backseat with instructions. “Ryan, when the movie is over, use the pay phone to call me. I will come pick you up. Do not walk home, Ry.” Ryan opened his hand that contained change. “I got it,” he replied. Then he turned to me. “Ready?” he asked. Im pretty sure my smile was the only answer he needed.
I remember nothing about the movie. I do remember catching glimpses of him in the glow of the theater. I remember wondering if he was going to put his arm around my shoulders. I love that he was willing to share his popcorn and snacks. Listening to him laugh in the theater made me smile. His long legs took up a lot of space, and I didn’t mind. Our knees touched, and I didn’t mind.
When the movie ended, we sat and talked until we got kicked out because the staff needed to clean it before the next showing. We slowly walked to the lobby. It was weirdly wonderful to know him so well and still need all the details filled in. I knew about his family and where he lived. I knew what grade he was in (same as me since forever). I knew he loved sports, especially basketball. But I didn’t know the details. How else did he spend his time when not playing ball? How close was he to his little brother? What was his school like? Did he have a favorite color or animal or book and why. I suddenly wanted every detail I could get.
Turns out, so did he.
Once in the lobby, we walked over to the pay phones but he never picked one up. He stared at me, saying nothing for a moment. I looked at him quizzically as I watched his brain hatching a plan. Finally he spoke, “I don’t want this to end yet. I know my dad said to call, but I’d really like to walk you home.” He was going to defy his parents. I asked him if he was sure, but I didn’t really need to. I could see it in his face. He was not picking up that phone unless I asked him to… and I was not going to do that. I wanted every moment I could get.
We left the theater on foot.
Outside the air was much warmer than the air conditioned theater we just left. As we walked home, the remnants of smoke hung in the air- the perfect mix of barbecue fires ended and home fireworks that have already popped. The smell of summer. The sky was empty of clouds but full of stars. We looked up every time our conversation drifted into a comfortable silence.
I was incredibly aware of my body… and his. I took note every time our hands brushed. I giggled when he tickled me, and laughed with pleasure when we wrapped an arm around me to keep me from getting too far away. Every time I looked up at him, he was already staring at me. No one had ever looked at me that way, with such interest.
As we walked in and out of the shadows cast by street lights, we talked about my parents divorce and all that happened in the wake. We also talked about our favorite music and tv shows. We talked about who we were in school and who we wish we could be. We told each other the truth. We laughed hard and loudly. Not exactly strangers, we easily moved into friendship, trust, vulnerability. We drank each other in.
At the end of the night, he hugged me goodbye, lifting my feet off the ground. He knew he needed to race home at this point. I could tell he didn't want to go. He made me promise we would see one another again soon. It was an easy promise to make.
I floated into the house. Did all of that really just happen to me? Everyone was asleep, and I was glad. I didn’t want to try to translate all my feelings into words. I wanted to explore all the nooks and crannies of this new feeling alone. I longed to remember the shape of it, the feel of falling in love. I fell asleep replaying the entire night in my head.
The next morning the house phone rang. My grandmother said it was for me. I never got phone calls at her house so I knew it had to be Ryan. My heart started racing.
When I answered the phone, it wasn't him. It was his mom.
“Hello Austin,” she began. “As you know Ryan was given specific instructions last night to call us to come pick you all up from the theater. Since he did not do that, he is now on punishment. But before that punishment begins he has made a request to talk with you. I am giving him 5 minutes and I will be standing right here.” With that she handed him the phone.
“Austin, I want you to know that I had a wonderful time with you last night. As my mom said, I'm on punishment now so I won't be able to call you for a few days. But I didn't want you to wonder if something was wrong. In fact, I want you to know that being put on punishment was entirely worth our evening together. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I'll call you as soon as I can. Okay?”
I whispered “okay,” my breath taken away realizing what he just said in front of his mom while on punishment. I let out a surprise giggle as I hung up the phone and turned to my mom who had entered the room. It wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t a movie. I had one perfect date, and I was in love
**This story is true, but I did change the name of my date and his family. Have you ever felt like you were suddenly living a magical, movie moment? Tell me everything!**