Seek and You Will Find

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Lex in the city


One of the most wondrous things about New York City is that it never fails to surprise you. You might expect that I’d be jaded by now, having lived here for most of my life. Not quite.

In a few ways, yes. I’m jaded by the MTA issues, the indecisive weather. I’m immune to the odors that out-of-towners notice immediately (what really is fresh air?) and unfazed by the mystery substances that trickle onto my shoulder when I stand beneath awnings and air conditioners. I’m accustomed to the oddballs yelling Bible verses at me while I wait on the corner for my Uber to arrive or the 100 pop-up eateries that open every week, each attempting to be more eclectic than the rest.

Beyond these things, I view the city with the same sense of awe as those who’ve just arrived. So often I discover some bizarre new experience, some hidden haunt or quirky club that I couldn’t possibly imagine how one could ever truly become bored here. It’s a place that has something to offer for everyone; if you have an interest or a hobby, you’re sure to find hundreds of others who share it. Beneath the surface, 1,000 subcultures thrive. Art gallery-goers and poets share the street with analysts and antique dealers, who stand in line for their coffee alongside ravers and race-runners.

My mindset is that if you open the door to opportunity — if you are willing to step outside of your comfort zone, to say “yes” more often — you’ll naturally uncover the corners of New York that surprise you. The same goes for people — following this method, you’ll meet the most interesting folk.

Said mindset — unfortunately or not, I’ve yet to decide — has pervaded into my dating life. This is the story of how I ended up on a date with an Irish-American rapper almost twice my age.

Everyone has a different approach to dating in New York. Dating apps have gathered more steam than I’d have expected. I’m a “hopeless romantic” (queue eye roll). I envision that I’ll meet my future spouse in a scenario that involves toppled books, coffee spills, or any other circumstance which entangles my constant clumsiness with his modest generosity and unabashedly good looks.

On a Saturday afternoon I walked through St. Marks place, looking for a book. I passed a noticeably handsome guy. He had the aesthetic of someone who also enjoys books. Or so I assumed. I think I was projecting.

We made eye contact as we crossed paths. I looked back, and he did too. I kept walking and looked back again — so did he. So I stopped. In a 3-second time frame, I needed to make a decision: did I want to be forward and approach him, or did I want to do what I would normally do, what my gut told me to do, which was to just keep walking.

I approached him.

He seemed cool. We exchanged numbers and agreed to meet sometime soon. I felt bold. Walking home, I envisioned all of the other bold things I would do, like open bills I was afraid to open and tell my crabby bodega owner where to stuff it.

The following weekend, we made plans to meet at the Standard, per his suggestion — a little “bougie” for my tastes, but sure, why not. I spotted him at the bar. He was wearing a fedora.

Welp. I swallowed hard.

In the light of restaurant, I saw wrinkles in his face that I hadn’t noticed when we first met. He was definitely older than me, but how much older?

Over the next hour, I learned that he was nearly 20 years my senior. He was in advertising but quit to perform music at parties and functions. His real joy, however, was rapping. He liked to battle, and he frequented the rap battle scene.

Listen, I’m all for pursuing the things that make you feel like your best self, no matter the medium. Baking, web design, yodeling, or rapping — if it gives you joy, go for it! Sitting with this man, though, I knew almost immediately that we did not jive. I needed to abort mission. I’d been bold enough.

I can’t remember the excuse I used in order to abandon ship, but we ended the date on good terms and I headed home. Later, I searched the web for his songs, to understand what an advertising aficionado turned lyrical performer sounded like.

If you’re wondering — he’s not half bad.

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