Sometimes you have an unlucky day. Your flight to London is delayed. You lose your wallet on the plane. The airport can’t find your wallet at all. You’re stuck with no money or means for travel. You miss the date you’ve been excitedly planning for weeks. Yet 5 hours later, there he is still waiting for you. A wonderful date.
Henry is sat in the seats I booked. Sofa seat, back of the cinema, dead centre. I am almost five hours late to our highly anticipated first date. My hair is a mess, I did my makeup in the dark in the back of a taxi and I probably smell bad.
I am late to the screening of Kingsmen: The Golden Circle and when I open the door, there Henry is waving at me so I know where to go. On my way to the seat, I trip over two couples enjoying the film.
Henry and I have known each other for years. We have even hooked up on occasion. He lives in Canada, but we try to catch up together if we are ever in the same city. This time around, things feel a little different.
It started two weeks ago when I jokingly told him if we meet we should go on a date. Henry is taken aback and replies “we’ve been on dates before though?” What he refers to of course is when we meet up, catch up and sometimes end up back and one of our hotel rooms together.
“Those aren’t dates. We’re just meeting as friends who end up having sex! A date is very different. You dress up and plan properly and it’s just. It’s just different Henry ok?” I clarify. We decide ok, let’s do this then. Let’s meet as a date.
Since this time we are meeting in London I am in charge of planning it. I book a nice restaurant in Soho that is both delicious, romantic and has wonderful service. The booking is for 6:30pm. I book a 9:10pm film showing, in a lovely cinema with sofa seats for the extra couply-experience.
The mess at the airport
My flight is delayed. I was meant to land at 3 2pm. Plenty of time to check into my hotel and get ready to change for the date. Plenty of time to not be late. The flight, however, decides to be delayed and I’m expected to land at 5:10 pm.
That’s cutting it tightly, but I decide I can store my luggage at a train station and get changed on the train from the airport into central London. However, as I go through passport control I realise I have lost my wallet.
Panicked I end up wasting another 4 hours in the airport, trying desperately to find my wallet or someone who knows the procedures for it. Without it, I am stranded at the airport without a clue on how to proceed. In the end, no wallet is found.
I PayPal a friend in London some money and he takes it out in cash for me. I then get an Uber into central London, which although is expensive is my only choice as I can not buy a train ticket. Luckily I manage to change clothes and freshen up a little in the airport toilets before I leave, and I do my makeup in the back of the taxi on the way there.
Movie and dinner
Henry is dressed in a shirt, sweater, slacks and he is even wearing a tie. I have never seen him dressed so smartly in person. Sitting down next to him my heartbeat quickens. This man who I have known for so long, who I have seen naked and kissed, feels like a stranger to me.
In my mind, this really is a first for us. He looks different. I can’t pinpoint it, but he looks different and it throws me off a little. I hold his hand and try to concentrate on the film. It’s fun and lighthearted, but I can’t help sneaking glances at the man sitting next to me occasionally.
At one point he catches me and leans down to kiss me. In the dark, he ends up kissing my nose and making me giggle. “Let’s try that again” he whispers as I giggle and we kiss. The hand he is holding tingles. My whole body tingles.
After the film, which I mostly managed to follow along to, we decide to eat. Henry has not eaten yet which makes me feel guilty. At midnight on a Wednesday, there are few places available. We go to Chinatown because it’s one of the few places I know will have food. The food is not delicious, but it’s available. That’s something.
But we talk. We catch up and it’s almost like the old days. We fall back on our friendship, each feeling completely comfortable with the other. It’s been almost a year since I last saw him and we talk endlessly. Yet something is different.
I really can’t pinpoint it. But I can’t stop staring at him. I blush when he looks back at me. I’m more self conscious than I thought I would be. At one point, after have finished our meal and are lingering over tea, we both idle around the topic of what to do next.
The thing is, I want to go back with him. This new light I see him in, it makes me want to kiss him very badly. Of course I have kissed Henry before, but I wonder if this time it will be different. Yet I am too shy to ask him. Surely it’s the man’s lead to ask?
“Does he even want me to come back with him?” I wonder. Before I would have never questioned this. But on a first date, you can’t assume something like that. And so I don’t, making me nervous.