After the Spy Museum, Mr. Unicorn told me we were heading to dinner within walking distance. He held my hand and we walked down the chilly streets of Chinatown. As we approach Zaytinya from down the block he emphasized that we were NOT going there. It was probably nothing but it made me curious. Did he not like Zaytinia? Because I loved that place. The food. The wine. The service. The atmosphere. I'd been on at least one first date there awhile ago, a large birthday dinner party and for many hh cocktails with friends. I wondered if he thought it was too trendy, or not trendy enough or maybe that it had been trendy but was past its prime. "Stop it, T, I told myself. You're overthinking everything again. Shut up and just talk to him. "So where ARE you taking me," I asked. "Somewhere that's good to go to from time to time," he replied. Shit. Shit. Shit. SHIT. I thought. He's taking me somewhere really nice. Meaning expensive. I was starting to feel really guilty about all the money he was shelling out on me. Not to mention all this lavish attention was making me embarrassed almost. Exposed. Pressured. Am I worth all this? What does he expect in return? Ugh.
I nervously told him that I hoped he wasn't taking me anywhere too nice because I wasn't dressed for it (I'd just come from work. I looked fine in a purple sleeveless dress, black cardigan, black tights and black ballet flats but I wasn't formal at all.) He calmed all my insecurities when he said, "Don't be crazy. You look beautiful."
Mr. Unicorn open the doors of Oya for me and it was incredible inside. I told him in all my time I'd lived in DC I couldn't believe I had never been there and I was excited to try a new and different restaurant. On that note, Oya is stunning. It is a large dimly lit room with glass chandeliers, faux fire that runs along the length of one wall, a cascading waterfall that hides the otherwise open kitchen and large white pillars that seem to emulate bubbles or wind or both. Its a truly dark, ethereal and romantically transformative environment and I was thrilled to be in this lovely place. If he was trying to please and impress me he didn't need to go any further. Signed, sealed, delivered- I'm yours. (And the dinner hadn't even started yet.)
I let Mr. U lead the way behind the hostess to our table. He started to sit down at the seat facing outward from the wall. Before he got there I interrupted, "Actually, can I sit there?" At first he seemed accommodating like no problem but then I could tell that when he realized he'd be staring at the wall all night instead of the deliciously stimulating surroundings he was momentarily visibly perturbed. Oh ho ho, I thought. What do we have here? Mr Unicorn has an actual flaw? My, my. I was wondering when they would show up. "I'm sorry," I told him. "I hate that you have to stare at the wall all night, but Ive never been here before and I really wanna look at everything." "It's fine," he said. I wished I believed him but I didn't. However, I couldn't dwell on it too long. I'd gotten what I wanted hadn't I? I couldn't further penalize him for something so trivial.
We picked up our menus and everything looked amazing. My brain was fried though from a long week at work. The thought of sifting through more options exhausted me. At work I make decisions all day. Every minute. And for the most part, I make those decisions without a blink of hesitation. But somehow when I get off work, the ability to proactively navigate life's options exhausts me. What bar should we go to? What kind of food should we eat? What movie should we rent? I told him all of this, that everything looked too good and this was making it hard to pick. Since he'd been there before, I asked him what he recommended. "Would you like me to choose for you," he asked. That would be great I said and gave another sigh, this one of relief.
Some girls might hate that - having a man order for them. It might seem too outdated or traditional but I couldn't have been happier to let him take the reins on this one. It's not that I was trying to be girly or anything like that. I genuinely didn't feel like making decisions and he got it. He got me. And he provided me with what I needed in that instance. Again, I don't know if that makes me sound lame - unable to decide my own entree - no choice would've been wrong - but I was tired, I commented I couldn't decide, he took over. End of story. It was easy and remarkable.
He picked wonderful things too. A bottle of Malbec. Lobster pineapple rolls, crunch tuna and spicy salmon. Perfection. "Can we handle a whole bottle," he asked before ordering? "Oh, I think we can," I responded with a mischievous smile.
The wine came. The food came. It was delicate and delectable. I couldn't have chosen better. The conversation, once again came and came without hesitation or silence or disinterest. It was lively. It was back and forth. It was personal.
Each topic became more and more complex, more and more serious. I felt like we should turn back to superficial things. Where we liked to eat and drink and go out in D.C. What work was like. What college had been like. Places we had traveled. But it was too late and there was no turning back. We talked about politics and then religion. Religion in extreme depth. Unusual or painful relationships with family members. I even told him how sick I'd been last year and all the other obstacles I'd come across that had made it the complete year from hell and how I'd pulled myself out of the 2010 quicksand to a better person ready to face a better 2011. It was a fast-moving train that couldn't be stopped. One conversation propelled another. One emotional revelation led way to a more revealing memory. And not one thing he told me made me like him less. Or question him more. Or doubt our compatibility. He only became more and more interesting and fascinating and worthy of investigation. Who is this guy and where did he come from? What an interesting life! What great perspective on his experiences! I just wanted to know more, more, more. I could only hope, that across the table, he was thinking and feeling the same things about me.
It was all too wonderful to bear. The flickering of the candlelight, the sheen of the chandeliers, my reflection in his eyes. He was being so honest and open with me and we were really continuing to hit it off and connect and suddenly my heart filled with dread and became anxious with guilt. "I HAVE TO TELL YOU SOMETHING!!" (I had interrupted him and blurted out, unable to hold in my secret anymore). "I've lied to you, about something," I said. "I've lied to you and I feel terrible about it." "Okay," he said, looking at me confused and uncertain as how to react to my sudden and unexplained outburst. "Okay", he said...what is it?" I took a breath and looked down at my lap, unable to look him in the eyes.
To be continued...