I was taking one step at a time to, becoming acclimatised in my new home town.
Life was settling into a routine of work, school and free weekends. There were new friendships, events and a quiz munch that I could attend fortnightly. As the months passed I began to wonder if it might be a good idea to start thinking about meeting someone, a new partner. Looking back I can see this as a desperate attempt to find normalcy, or the normal that I thought I should have. Maybe security, dependability and some sparkle. These were all things I was missing at the time, but I hadn’t figured out yet that they needed to come from within.
I’d been chatting to DinoDom for weeks when he asked if I fancied meeting for coffee.
Dating isn’t something I had ever really done, I just don’t understand the rules. But everyone has to start somewhere and he and I had a lot in common: work, musical taste, politics, books, Dartmoor. He was tall. He was free on my child free weekend. “Why not?” I said, and went to meet him. The conversation flowed while we sat at a table outside the cafe, enjoying the sunshine and watching the Saturday shoppers bustle around with their heavily laden bags. Two coffees down and we decided to go for a walk, somewhere quieter without the distractions of all these people. Wandering down around the quay and mooching along the riverside, it wasn’t long before we had run out of paths so we decided to head down the canal for some food at the pub at the far end of the tow path. We could have doubled back and used the tarmac path but I suggested hopping across the little stream and save ourselves half a mile. (The pub was 4 miles away and neither of us were very fit at this point.) He was not keen but I showed him that there were lots of children doing it, and I would go first. If he still wasn’t happy I would come back and we would follow the tarmac. I made it with ease, and wondering what the fuss was about he followed suit.
But his large feet slipped on the rock and in he went.
It was only ankle deep water, but he was not particularly happy about it and suggested that I would have to make up for his soggy boots at some point. With no idea what he had in mind we carried on down the path, I wasn’t worried. He was a nice man and I was safe. Well on the way down the tow path we came across a bench. He sat down and asked me to take off my shoes “You’ve spoken about walking barefoot, I think now would be a good time to repay me for your suggestion to cross the stream”. He challenged me to walk to the pub. We could see the destination, and it really didn’t seem that far away, so I agreed.
Shoes off. Socks off. Feet to the gravel and off we went.
He walked along behind me and I kept up a steady pace, keeping a look out for glass and dog poo. Occasionally he would say run and I would trot along for 50m or so. Half way along what was left of the path he took pity on me and offered my shoes back, but I was positive that I could make it. I’ve since run this route many times and know the distance to be a few metres shy of 2 miles, I have never been one to bail on a challenge half way, unless I really need to. And I was having fun. Plus, there was a fair amount of people out for a saturday afternoon walk in the sunshine and watching their faces as they noticed my lack of shoes was amusing to me. The last half a mile felt really far, and I’m sure the little stones were getting sharper, but my feet were not damaged, just uncomfortable so I continued.
Never have I been happier to reach a beer garden in all my life.
Sadly, by the time we got there the kitchen was closed for the afternoon, so we had a lime and soda, cup of tea and a scotch egg each while my feet relished the cool grass beneath them. It was bliss! Then came the job of putting on my socks and shoes and starting the long walk back. By this time the kitchen was opening again, but it was late spring so the sun was starting to set and there were no street lights along the path so off we went. By the time we got back to the city quay I was done in. He thanked me for a fun day together, for being a good sport and we each leant in for a hug. As it ended he continued the embrace with an attempted kiss. It felt quite natural that it would progress to this but when our lips met I pulled away.
It all felt horribly wrong.
He offered me a lift back up to my car as he was parked nearby, and the conversation flowed as it had done all day. We had spent approaching 12 hours with each other by this point and I felt like I had found someone who would fit well in my world. Just not in the way that I had imagined before meeting, indeed even before he kissed me. It is strange how someone can be so “right” on paper, but just… not… in person. We have remained in touch, and enjoyed some fun days out together since. He has come along for bike rides with my little clan and I get invites to his Brother’s DJ nights though they always seem to fall on the wrong weekend. But as far as romance goes though.
That was a step that wasn’t for me.
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