I went on just one date in February. It felt familiar but not identical. I had had a date a lot like this one, over 12 years ago. It was with someone with a very similar background to this date. Back then, we’d spoken about our respective careers, the books we both loved. We’d drunk wine together and shopped for Milan Kundera, spending our brand new MNC high-flying incomes. We’d written to each other, for each other, about each other. We’d used poetry like swordplay, compliments as flourishes, each other as accessories. And I had thought it was fun. (Sepia Tones, En Route To Hell, The Break-up, if you’re interested)
12 years later, I’ve made career & life choices that are braver than those two people in 2007 (and this date in 2020). I think it hit me when he said something about books, that topic that has been the metric for good dates for me. He said,
“I used to read a lot but now I’m struggling to get through books I used to love. Once upon a time I devoured Milan Kundera. And now, it just feels like, what’s the point?”
I couldn’t help but agree. I also fell in love with Kundera all those years ago. In fact, it was along with that very same 2007 date. And now I feel that way about him – faintly nostalgic, mildly tolerant but only to a point. And not even a very big point at that.
This 2020 date felt a lot like that. I’m hard-pressed to be impressed by someone with the branded degrees, the poker-playing (which is the 2010s equivalent of Kundera/ Murakami reading). I don’t have anything to say to someone whose primary career ambition is making money. I moved away from that life long ago, seeking other things – creative fulfilment, a chance to make a difference in the world. On the other hand, it was nice reliving mutual nostalgia for something we both obviously sought, once. The world needs the income generators and it needs its artists and activists and plodders and players. I just don’t know that there’s anything connecting us strongly enough for me to invest in.
A part of me felt sad but that’s because this is me saying goodbye to something I once thought I loved – a certain type of person with whom I was having a certain kind of conversation, presenting a certain me that I wanted to be. It was a nice idea. But it was only an idea.
I guess every date is a lesson, even the ones that don’t go anywhere but just teach you to place a fullstop.