It was a warm autumn day - a Monday to be exact. I was in my last semester of college - getting excited for graduation and the prospect of moving out of state to pursue a graduate degree in Spanish Literature. My days were a mixture of piano lessons (I had 20 students and the thought of a Christmas recital right around the corner), school (although there was a major university 10 minutes from my apartment, I choose to commute an hour to another university), managing an office for some guys who had just begun a business venture doing remodeling work in old, run down apartments, spending time with friends, and the all important task of dating!
Since the previous fall, my mom would occasionally mention her friend's brother-in-law who was living in Israel and who, according to her friend, would be the perfect match for me. His name was Jason, and he loved to travel, rock climb, and backpack. He was very adventurous, and good looking to top it off. These conversations always ended the same. I doubted he could really be all she told me he was, and if he was all that, why on earth would he be interested in me? And yes, I would email him if he emailed me first, but that my mom shouldn't get her hopes up because after all - he was living on the other side of the globe.
Anyways, back to my warm autumn Monday. It was going to be a relaxing day. No class on Mondays - just a few hours in the office, the afternoon to myself, followed by a few piano lessons in the late evening. Although I tried to tell myself today was just another Monday, I still woke up earlier to allow time to blow dry and style my hair (which is something I rarely do) and apply make-up (another thing I don't normally do). You see, four days earlier I had got a phone call from my mom's friend telling me that her brother-in-law had just moved back from Israel and would it be alright if she were to give him my phone number. I agreed - partly because I didn't how else I would ever hear the end of all this talk about "Jason" and partly because I was really interested in finding out if he really was all they said he was.
To my surprise, just a few hours later her brother-in-law called me. I was in class, so I sent it to voicemail. On my way home from school that night I returned the phone call. I was glad that I had plans all weekend so I could say no to a traditional "pick you up at 7" kind of date. I offered to meet him for lunch on Monday if he was free. He was. He picked a little Middle-Eastern restaurant near his university (the one that was only a few minutes away from my apartment - the one any logical person in my situation would have been attending). I thought it was a perfect arrangement. If it didn't go well, I could lie and say I needed to get back to work, but if it did go well, I could take my time since I had the whole afternoon free.
So as I'm getting ready for work that day, I can't help but feel a little nervous. I had been on dozens of blind dates, but this one somehow felt different. I get to work, and quickly do what needs to be done for that day and am walking out the door by noon. Just enough time to run a few quick errands and then meet at the restaurant by 1:00. I get everything done quicker than I planned and pull up to the restaurant at 12:45. I think about finding a seat, but then decide I don't want to be the first one there, so I head to a park that I know is nearby to kill some time. I walk around for what seems like forever, checking my watch to see how much time has gone by. I start thinking that maybe it would have been better if I just gave him my address and had him pick me up. What if I get to the restaurant and approach the wrong person thinking it is him? What if he doesn't show up? Do I eat lunch by myself? With all these questions on my mind I drive back to the restaurant - getting there purposely late in hopes that he was already there, and I wouldn't have to wait around.
There was no parking available in the front of the restaurant so I pulled around back hoping to find something quickly. As I walked around the front I see a guy wearing sunglasses, sitting at a table outside by himself, surrounded by school books. It could be him, but how could I be sure? I debate with myself for a split second, and then decide to get over my shyness and just go find out. We introduce ourselves and I take a seat across from him. Here we go again - another blind date with the same get-to-know you questions and small talk that always makes me feel uncomfortable.
I feel very out of place. He starts asking me about things on the menu - wanting to know what my favorite Middle Eastern foods are. Although I did spend several months in the Middle East none of the food on the menu seems familiar. I recognize falafel, hummus, and pita. I'm tempted to just order a falafel, but I know I don't really like them, so I try to find something with chicken without seeming too uneducated.
We order our food, the server takes our menus away. Now I don't have anything to hide behind, and I know I need to do my part to keep the conversation going. I notice right away that Jason is extremely confident, and although he still has his sunglasses on I feel his piercing gaze, I feel like he is seeing right through to all my insecurities. Part of me wants to just go home and end the discomfort I am feeling, but a large part of me is so intrigued with him. He is good looking, and smart, and seems to know exactly what he wants from life.
The minutes fly by. We soon have our food, then our plates are being cleared, the server is dropping off the bill, and we are still talking. The server comes back occasionally - I get the feeling they would like us to give up our table - but we keep talking. Eventually we make plans to meet again, and then part ways. It wasn't until I got to my car that I realized it was nearly 5:00. We had spent the entire afternoon at the little restaurant.
I'd like to say it was true love from the beginning, but I know that would be an exaggeration. I left that first date feeling very intrigued. It was one of the best first blind dates I had ever had, yet I didn't sense a real connection. I knew I was interested in him, but wasn't sure if he was really interested in me. Well, all that changed the next day when Jason called me as I was walking out of class. There was something in that short conversation that made me instantly sense that this was something different than I had experienced with the other guys I had dated.
I am grateful that four years ago today I agreed to meet a stranger for lunch. Although I didn't know it at the time - that one lunch has led to some of the happiest moments in my life. Thanks Jason for sharing this journey with me. I love you!