Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dates

You don't even let the alarm wake you up. You're up before it hits the ringer, and you smile because you know you're wide awake now. You're glad you're awake now. It only means it's becoming real.

You get yourself ready. You fix yourself up, iron out your best clothes, and spray on your signature perfume. You check yourself in the mirror. Again. You smile. You can't believe how giddy you are. It's like high school all over again. Only this will be better. You believe this will be better.

You take a cab to the restaurant. You don't take your car with you. No use in looking for a convenient parking space at that time. And besides, you don't want to risk losing an opportunity to walk home, especially when it includes the possibility of walking with that special someone. The cab driver looks at you from the rear-view mirror. He smiles. He guesses that you're out on a date. You guess it's kind of hard to hide that fact when you've been smiling for the whole ride. He wishes you good luck and be careful. He drops you off right in front of the restaurant.

You're early. A guard opens the door for you, and a waiter approaches you with a smile. He asks if you have reservations. You try to hide your chuckle as you think that he's asking you if you have reservations regarding this date. You nod to him and give your name. He ticks off your name on the list and leads you to your table.

The table is at the corner of the floor, near the ceiling-to-floor glass windows. You have a beautiful view of the outside. There are cars passing by, their lights leaving a trail of brightness on the dark dusty streets. There are people walking around, some laughing, others just hurrying to get home. Beyond the bustle of the city, there are the lights, lights on the mountains beyond. Houses far from the sound of cars and the noise of daily living. Houses wrapped in the peacefulness of nature. Their lights flicker as you try to distinguish each house from where you are sitting.

Inside, the lights are warm white. Just a soft shade of yellow to keep the atmosphere relaxing. The people already at their tables seem excited. A couple sitting on the other side of the floor are whispering, smiling. They seem happy. You glimpse a shiny wedding band on each of their left-hand ring fingers. You smile because you know someday you'll get to wear something like that too. You get to whisper to your loved one like that too. On another table is a family; the mother is talking to the waiter while the father tries to calm his two kids down. They were fighting over which spoon to use for dessert. The young boy was insisting it was the normal spoon while the girl, probably the elder of the two, told him it was the smaller spoon. The parents look exhausted but they were happy. And you smile at them when they catch your eye.

You look around the restaurant. You can't believe this is really happening. Months ago, you thought you should just give up. Months ago, you thought that you would never love again. Now you're sitting there, waiting. You don't mind the wait. You know that person will be coming. You fix your hair, checking your reflection on the wine glass. You smile. You can't help it. This might be the night that would change all your perceptions about love.

You sit there. Time passes. You look at the waiters as they busily carry out instructions from guests and the kitchen crew. They smile at you, ready to take your order. You wave them off, saying you're still waiting for someone. They run around making sure everybody's happy.

You catch a glimpse of the kitchen as the doors swing close. The chefs are busy creating their culinary masterpieces. They shout orders to their assistants in unintelligible words. They all toss and mix and fry and decorate what the waiters serve to their guests. They make the night more special.

You fix your hair again.

The family finally get their meal, and the kids start scooping their food into their mouths. The girl chews slowly. The boy seems to just chew and swallow. You think he's only going through the proper meal to get to the dessert. The parents talk about work. You hear them discussing the future of their children. You don't think the children know their parents are talking about them.

You move the spoon on your table a little to the left to straighten it out.

The couple on the other side of the floor are giggling. The man is whispering something to the woman, and she's looking at you. She smiles as the man smiles also at you. You smile back. They continue whispering and moving the food on their plates around, obviously trying to draw out the time they are spending in the restaurant. You wish you could draw out time for tonight too.

You fix your hair.

The family gets their bill. A waiter passes you by and smiles. There's a different smile. He asks if he can get you anything. You decline, still smiling. He nods and leaves for the kitchen. The family leaves the restaurant, children in tow. The sound of their laughter and squealing fades as the doors close. They turn to their car and climb in. Soon their vehicle disappears into the traffic.

You straighten an imaginary wrinkle on the tablecloth.

You wait. You stare at the other tables, tables with couples, families, and even solo diners. They go about their night seemingly content. They smile. They laugh. You hear an argument from another table but is quickly hushed. You hear impatient tapping of fingers on the table, shoes on the floor. You listen to the steady clinking of silverware on china. You close your eyes and try to remember that this is real. Everything is now in your memory.

The night wears on.

The diners slowly leave. The waiters clean up their tables. Another waiter approaches but doesn't get to ask you if you need anything. You look at him and he knows.

You fix your hair.

The lights in the restaurant dim as the closing hours draw near.

You lean your head on the window. The traffic has thinned. The stars are out.

You close your eyes and wish to forget that this is real.

You fix your hair.

You look outside, and you find yourself outside. You walk away. You don't even look back as the waiters say good-bye, as the guard thanks you for coming. You don't look back to see their sad smiles, to hear their whispers. You keep walking.

You fix your hair. You don't look back at the restaurant. You don't look back at the empty table you just left. You don't look back at the empty place where you thought your dreams might just come true. You just keep walking.