“You’re going on a walk? Just a walk? What kind of first date is that?” Avery’s best friend and roommate, Syd, exclaimed when Avery told her she had met someone… online. Avery had had close to no luck in the past. Boy after boy would come and go. They’d break her heart, ignore her completely, or use her for their gain and then they would simply move along to the next vulnerable woman they could find. Avery had almost given up completely until she had received a message from a boy named Dylan at 12:30am on a Friday night.
The light of her phone screen was too bright, but she picked it up anyway, squinting until her eyes had adjusted. She clicked the little yellow app that opened to a list of messages from various people. The top message was from a guy named Dylan. Dylan, interesting. I haven’t heard of anyone with this name for a while. Avery thought to herself, slowly opening the message to see what it had said. To her surprise there were no crude remarks about her body, no demand for sex, no ridiculous come back to the pick up line Avery had copied and pasted from her past conversations. Just a normal, sweet response. From there the conversation led into the morning and Dylan and Avery had found agreement on a time and place to go for a walk, despite it being freezing and December.
Avery had known the horror and failures of online dating, she knew she had to go to a public place, where nothing could go wrong, or at least worse than it had in the past. She had rules for herself that she had curated throughout the years of online dating but after texting Dylan for only hours, she had already broken her rules. Thinking about the date ahead while discussing with Syd the late night conversation she had just been consumed in, Avery pulled out her phone and opened notes. She looked at a list of rules she had made. Written in no particular order, they said:
- Speak with the person over text or video call for 24 hours before setting up a date
- Call or ask for a audio message to check their voice
- Pick a general location in the public view for a first meet
- Never meet a person past 8pm
- Get pics of their face to see if they match their profile pictures
- Never trust a person who only shows half their face in pictures
These rules had all come from experiences that Avery had lived through and knew she never wanted to live through again. However, without even thinking and without waiting at all, her date with Dylan was scheduled. Avery, you’ve broken every frickin’ rule.
Dylan didn’t like to show his full face in photos, they had only been talking for a mere 12 hours by the time they had met, they met at Avery’s house to start before going on a walk, she didn’t hear his voice or get detailed pictures before meeting him either. There was just trust. A strange amount of trust that he certainly did not deserve. But it was granted to him regardless and she wasn’t about to turn down some great conversation and a good-looking man that was for sure. And maybe she would get some free food and some exercise out of the process. There’s always an upside to these things. Avery thought to herself, being reminded of all the terrible dates and meet-ups that lingered in her past. Each memory like a bad book stuck high up on a dusty bookshelf, hopefully she would never have to touch those memories ever again.
Hours past and it was suddenly 2 o’clock in the afternoon and Dylan was going to swing by Avery’s house before they walked. Shaking a bit and scared to admit that she had broken her dating rules to Syd, she ran out of the house as soon as Dylan texted her, “Here :)”. It was freezing. Avery was in such a rush, she didn’t even manage to grab a hat or gloves. How am I going to make it through this? I have already failed! I’m going to freeze and die on this date. Look at those trees, even their leaves are frozen. I’m a goner. She thought hopelessly.
Looking forward rather than up in the trees, she saw his truck. The same pickup that was featured in Dylan’s profile pictures. She chuckled to herself, realizing that she had just made fun of men in trucks for the past few months in particular. Half-wanting to run back inside and forgot anything had happened, Avery figured she would do the right thing and at least meet the guy.
Tap-tap, her finger made a muted sound on Dylan’s truck window. He was looking down at his phone and didn’t see Avery standing next to the truck until he was shook to life by Avery’s tiny sound of introduction. His face immediately lit up. A huge smile spilled across his face, revealed dimples and eye creases that didn’t seem to belong to a 22 year old man, but they were precious nonetheless. With the sound of 25 year old truck windows rolling down Dylan said hi and introduced himself. He quickly waved Avery around to the other side of the truck and told her she could get in. The door was jammed so Dylan had to reach over the passenger seat to unlock Avery’s door. Oh no, what am I getting myself into? This car is a wreck.. And I can’t believe it, he drives a manual? Avery was shocked. She had honestly lost hope in the skills of her peers and didn’t believe that any young person could master such a thing as driving a manual. Instantly, the thoughts of the messy truck and simply the truck itself faded. Avery had found herself a classy man and she was excited to see where the rest of this date led. As the engine revved up to pull out of the parking lot it was sitting in, Dylan and Avery decided on a spot to go for a walk, a park by the river about 10 minutes from Avery’s house.
Fast forward six hours. Six. Hours. Avery was shocked after looking at her watch. Both Dylan and Avery had neglected their phones, their watches, pretty much anything that connected them to the outside world. For a quarter of a day, the two of them were entranced in a bubble of their own. Nothing could break that beautiful bubble, the whole world could see in but both Dylan and Avery didn’t bother looking out. Their focus was on something more important, each other.
Astonished, Avery was left speechless at the end of the date. No way. No way. I cannot believe I survived and actually want to see him again. Avery bounced through the doorway to a studying Syd who looked over her tortoise rimmed glasses as Avery’s joy seemed to radiate off of her. “So…” Syd asked, “How’d it go?”
For a minute Avery needed to gather her words. She had none. After a moment or two she was able to respond. “So great, Syd. Not perfect, but full of potential and I couldn’t ask any more than that from someone I just met! There were no awkward silences at all. I just couldn’t take my eyes off him. I didn’t know I could think so highly of a truck-driving, southern boy.” Syd simply laughed at the last comment she made. Syd knew deep down that Avery was not the type of person to shut out another because of the car they drove, even though Avery tried to come off that way.
Avery was glowing, simply glowing. Filled with a strange sensation along with a boat-load of joy, she climbed the stairs and got ready for bed. It had been a long day, but so very worth all the effort and initial anxiety. The rules were meant to be broken. Dylan was worth breaking the rules for. All she wanted was to see him again. Thankfully they had each other’s Snapchats and her wish to see his face could be granted. He also read her mind and sent her a photo first, seeing it put a smile on her face so big it felt unreal. Attempting to contain her excitement, she snapped a photo in response. Tapping on the screen to add words to her photo she typed “I really liked spending today with you. I guess we both figured out how to do online dating right for a change.”Online Dating: Just a walk is all you need