I arrived slightly early at the bar for my date with Life Begins at 30ty. I had the impression that she might be a punctual person too and I briefly wondered whether she might even have beaten me there, but I could see no sign of her in the place. I was quite happy to be first there and also relieved that the bar wasn't as busy as I'd feared - I gladly grabbed a table just as two people left and I waited.
After maybe ten minutes I checked the time on my phone. Damn - missed a text from her. When my phone's in my pocket it's too quiet to hear and the vibrate facility is too weak to feel - I should know this by now! I assumed that she might have been delayed, but her text said that she'd arrived early too and was outside. Er... I can't see anyone outside through the windows. I got up and went to double-check (instantly losing the table to some eager bystanders) - nobody outside! Is she now inside looking for me? Had I somehow not seen her come in? I went back to stand at the bar and texted her back. Her reply confirmed what I was beginning to fear - we're at different bars! I thought this only happened in movies!
I started to text back and was promptly thrown another banana skin by my phone - if someone calls while I'm writing a text it instantly picks up but won't let me see who's calling. Great, I'm going to sound like a weirdo when I have to double-check that it's her! Luckily I had confirmation from her American accent, which of course I'd known to expect, but of course I've been reading her blog with my own inner monologue so it was still a bit disconcerting!
I offered to come to her bar but she wanted to come to mine and sounded very relaxed about the whole thing, which was good to hear. I waited inside looking out for a free table (but the place was filling up now) and presently she walked in. She looked just like her photos, which meant that she looked great, but in my rush to beat the crowds I neglected to tell her so and instead went straight into buying-drinks mode. We started to chat at the bar but the place was getting so busy that a guy was leaning between us ordering drinks! I glanced around in faint hope of a free table and miraculously there suddenly was one in the corner, so we quickly grabbed it.
At first we talked about blogging as I tried to make the connection that the person across from me was the writer of one of my most-read blogs. Then as we started to find out more about the unknown parts of each other's lives (jobs, growing up, other parts of our life histories) it was easy to lose sight of that fact, until once of us would mentioned something that a first date would never normally know and there'd be a moment of shock for the other - how do they know that? - and the memory kicked back in. A strange mix of not knowing someone and yet knowing them at the same time, of being on a date but also catching up with a seldom-seen friend.
From my point of view the time whizzed by as we chatted, but the bar was refusing to conform to my hope that the post-work drinkers would gradually empty out. Instead it seemed to get busier and louder. I was starting to find it more difficult to hear what she was saying and it felt like our chatting might be drawing to a close...