I don’t date often and I don’t date well.  That said, it still happens from time to time.

So on Saturday night I decided to invite to dinner a man whom I date from time to time.  He’s a man I met through a friend because we seemingly have “so much in common”. We were set up several months ago and really hit it off.  In the months subsequent to our initial meeting things got increasingly complicated.  For one, I’m a single mom and I don’t usually go out on the weekends when I have my kids.  It’s sort of a big rule of mine.  Sometimes I see the distant judgment in the eyes of some of my other divorced mom friends, especially the ones who have successfully found other relationships.  The truth is that you have to make time to find the right companion and, in all honestly, I don’t make that kind of time.

It’s been over four years since my marriage ended.  Since then I’ve had relationships.  I think I’ve even fallen in love.  If it wasn’t love, there was definitely its two side dishes –  ecstasy and devastation.  I haven’t really had a “serious” relationship in that time, but I have had moments of real seriousness.  I have had moments so honest, so beautiful and so revealing that I almost can’t remember what my life was like before them.

This was not one of those moments.

09_21_ImusaQuesadillas_041I had decided to make Mango Chicken Quesadillas.  It was the perfect dish.  The ingredients were simple enough that I knew that what I was reading on the paper was going to work for the palette.  Sometimes it’s tricky for me.  Sometimes I’ll read a menu item or a recipe and what’s on paper doesn’t always work for me when I actually try it. This recipe was so easy to follow and  I was so comfortable with it that I even knew how to manipulate it to fit my needs.  I was going take out the cheese for me (no girl wants to feel bloated on date night) and hold the onions for both of us.

Cooking for a date is actually a big pain.  Cooking is messy and smelly and those are two things that don’t go well with a hot date. A hot date alone has its own series of preparations that are just as messy and time consuming as prepping a meal.  Here I was attempting both.

There were all sorts of cutting and marinating that had to happen…that is not even the cooking part.  You know what I mean.  First thing in the morning I went for a jog, at 12:30 manicure, pedicure, eyebrow waxing and you know, waxing.

Since I was hosting the dinner I had to make sure the house too was prepped.

My date was set to arrive at 8 o’clock.  That meant by that time not only did the Mango Chicken Quesadillas need to be hot and ready, so did I.

And I was.  I stuck my hands in lemon pepper chicken. I made a mustard, honey (I used agave) and tobasco sauce. I got sticky from chopping mangos, but still I managed to be in high peep-toe heels, black leggings and a tube top (not to mention the apron) by 8 on the dot.

He didn’t arrive until 9.

Sigh.

By then both the food and I were droopy and cold. I had eaten my portion of the quesadilla alone in front of the TV while watching The Godfather on AMC.  When he texted me that he was around the corner, I took his plate out of the microwave and added red onions.

Anyone who knows me well, knows what a stickler I am for timeliness.  I don’t run on “Cuban time” like the rest of Miami.  I’m punctual and take punctuality as a sign of courtesy.

Something in me didn’t really care though. I didn’t give him any grief. I sat in my heels and aprons and listened to his compliments on my appearance and the food.  We drank wine.  And then we drank more wine.Empanada_013

By the time we were ready for the Guava and Cheese Empanadas, I was a little tipsy.  Still, I looked at my date and knew that it would be our last.

We had great conversation and there is definitely physical chemistry between us, but it’s not the right fit.  On paper we’re a perfect match.  We’re the same age, same ethnicity.  We both love reading, philosophy and movies.  But sometimes what’s on paper doesn’t translate off the page.  Sometimes it just doesn’t feel right.

So many things are changing in my life.  I’ve started to cook, dance (more on that later), write.  I’ve made relationships with people that I never thought I’d know or grow to love.  I have to admit that a lot of these changes, as great as they are, are unsettling and stressful.  I wonder why I invited him instead of someone else, someone closer to my heart, to dinner.  I wondered how willing I was to compromise myself to follow what looks good on paper.  I wondered how willing I was to deviate from what is expected of me in a mate or otherwise.

The rest of the night felt a bit disjointed and forced.  This was all exacerbated by the battle going on between his digestion and the red onions.

The truth is I didn’t take a big chance on this meal and I didn’t take a big chance on this date.

There’s a strong temptation to just want to follow the recipe and force a certain formula or even relationship down my own throat even though I know, at least I hope, there’s something greater waiting for me if I’m just willing to deviate from what’s been written on the page. But instead I wore the apron and played the part, sensing that somewhere in me there is that person who is willing to write my own recipe and find the courage to follow it.