Dates can be exciting, enticing, or completely frightening
I haven't had a proper date in years, even Matt couldn't take me on a date. He said it was too hard, pretty much. I even offered to pay for myself. Nope, always had excuses. So, I sucked it up and waited for a miracle that would never eventuated. Waiting for a date would be like watching paint dry. Though, least you would get some sort of satisfactory outcome.
I sat on my bed and went through my Spotify. Nothing sufficient would satisfy my nerves. I tried Britney but the vibes I got was of some melancholic virgin schoolgirl. I tried Simple Plan, Green Day, Panic, Kylie Minogue. Nothing. I gave up. I handed Spotify the reigns and surrendered.
My phone vibrated. "Ready for our date, P.?"
I gulped. "Yes?"
"Why the question mark?"
"Where do I pick you up from?"
I messaged him my address and he said he'll be there in 40 minutes. 40 minutes to ponder my flower box of daisies.
My phone rang. Kylie. Trouble.
"Babes, you're gonna do amazing today!" she sounded enthusiastic.
"You make me sound like I'm running a marathon!'
"You are babes," she giggled. "The marathon of lurve."
I could throw a pillow at her but she got me there. I love Kylie. She can pick you up just like that.
"So, what are you going to wear? Conservative Peyton or trashy Peyton I have seen you in numerous states, before?"
"Casual," I said.
"Casual better get you some!" Kylie digged again. "Coz girl, you been nasty lately!"
"Thank you for your concerns," I chuckled.
"Just thought I would give you a pep talk," Kylie said. I knew she would be smiling. "Anyway, I must go and you must get ready!"
She ended the call. I stared out the window and found myself over-thinking again. Doubts are a given in any decision in life just like consequences are. I try to tell myself to ride the wave but end up falling off it in self-doubt.
Give it up, Peyton. Mark will be here soon.
Mark pulled up next to the curb. I walked out of the driveway, nerves skyrocketing but managed to suppress whatever might make it obvious. I got into the car. He reached over and kissed me on the cheek. He pulled away.
"Was that too forward?"
Not at all.
You know when you suddenly get an urge to do something but forget about the consequences? Well, I may have just lunged forward and kissed Mark. The feeling of stubble on my skin, the smell of that sweet-scented fresh cologne in his clothes, his skin warm and embracing. He didn't budge but gave me support to stabilise me so he could return the favour. His lips were soft, slightly wet, not saturated like some guys who can't kiss properly.
I pulled away. I opened my eyes to see Mark looking at me.
"Where did that come from?" he joked. He put his hands up. "Not complaining. There's been a connection there for awhile."
"Sorry," I said, sitting back down in the seat. "I just got the urge."
"Like I said," he reassured, turning the truck on and pushing off the side of the road. "Not complaining." He touched his lips.
Mark was smitten.
We had arrived at the spot he had organised.
"I haven't organised anywhere fancy," he began. The truck turned off. "I just thought maybe we could sit here and talk."
The truth bombs.
"Sure, that's fine," I said, not bothered. I knew the truth bombs would be coming.
The spot was nice. It was Pork Chop Hill, everything happens up here though. Dodgy dealings and wheelings, outcasts, people having their breaks, the works. The day was quite nice too, with the sun shining on the city. Not much of a skyline, that's what the city lacks. Still, a good view to be in awe of.
"You're thinking again," he said, observing me. "I did a lot of thinking in my younger days."
"What did you think of?" I asked, snapping out of my admiring beauty thoughts.
"Life; will I find someone?"
"Yes," he whispered. He breathed in and out. "But, I realised this person would be no more than just friends. This person was exactly like me; we wanted a family, to travel, to live life. But things changed. I dunno why. Well, actually I do."
Mark was opening up. This is what is needed. I'll return the favour and open up too. I have too.
"I realised I was different."
"I'm picking this is about Nicola and you being gay?" I said it. I dropped the mic.
He shot me a look.
"It's okay. I saw a picture of you and her in the hallway when I went toilet last night," I said. I reached out and rubbed his hand. "I knew you two had something. You still do. You're good mates and I can't just cut you off if we did get together. Then I would be just as bad as my ex."
Mark smiled. "I thought you wouldn't see that photo. I wasn't the most attractive in that pic. Also, mid-noughties. Fashion was blah."
"You were still something to look at," I said, sneaking a smirk towards him.
"You're just being kind!" Mark said, side glancing me.
He started tapping to the beat on the radio. It sounded like Justin Bieber but I was too busy invested in keeping the conversation alive.
“So, do you have a story that matches mine?” he asked, changing positions so that he was looking at me now.
He shouldn’t have done that. I wanted to re-enact what just happened moments before. I wanted relive that kiss. I enjoyed making out with him. He knew how to kiss.
“Well, other than be afraid of being in a relationship now, that I have had a taste of narcissism, I don’t know,” I said, fumbling around with drawstring on my pants. “I mean, I would definitely try for a relationship but I’m scared. You know this already.”
“Narcissism must be a hard thing to deal with,” Mark said, stroking the stubble on his chin. “Many of my friends, both girls and guys, have been victims of narcissism. I have heard that you try your hardest to be that “best partner,” and then they can steam-roll you just like that.”
I nodded. “They were some hard times. I juggled my social life, work life, private life, to be the best partner to him. And he wasn’t even thankful for it. Yet, all he did was juggle his work and private life, and his secret affair with the ol’ Mary-Johanna. I get that some people need it but this one just abused it. I was battling his addiction.”
“And that would have been painful to deal with,” Mark replied.
“You can bet I would leave the house and make up shit, just to escape,” I said, quietly. “The love he had for that addiction and make me second best, was beyond funny. I knew after a while I wouldn’t be able to compete so when he practically gave me the olive branch that the relationship was “over,” I embraced it. He told me once I had moved out the majority of my things, three days after he booted me out, why didn’t I fight for “us”?”
“I wouldn’t have bothered to fight either,” Mark said, looking down in his lap. “Sounded like your story blows my story out of the bathwater. Not that I am comparing. Just blown away that you dealt with that shit.”
“He told me he gets addicted quickly when shit hits the fan. I knew shit was hitting the fan a lot but when I tried to reach out to him, I got shunned. Anyway, he is in the past now. New beginnings, new me,” I said, fist pumping the air.
“I’m glad we talked this out,” Mark said, as a new song started, some techno banger. “For anything that starts that may steer into a relationship direction, we need to understand the dynamics of who we are as people.”
“We need communication in this world for this world to work properly,” I said. “But the system is designed for it not to work. The world is broken and the worldwide leadership bank on this.”
I think I hit a nerve. Mark went quiet. Did I just rupture his world or his career?
I quickly added, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to overstep the boundary.”
He stopped in his tracks, looked over at me and then reached out to hug me. “Don’t ever apologise for speaking your truth.”
What a raw and deep first date ever. Just ride the wave, Peyton. Just ride the wave.