When I moved to New York on a rainy March afternoon, my flight was delayed by two hours, I got a run in my panty hose, and I arrived with nothing to my name, except bags and a friend’s couch on loan. Even once I moved uptown to my humbly priced and furnished apartment and accepted my job – my life in the city of dreamers was far from dreamy.
I’ve never, even in my worse of days, regretted moving to Manhattan, but for the first three or four months, I was lonely, broke, and living off visions of what I hoped my New York life would be like one day. And so, when I spent an entire week without having a drink, meeting anyone new, or chatting with a girlfriend – I gave in and joined an online dating site. OkCupid, to be exact.
I’m still not sure what I think about digital dating and it is something I’ll explore at a later date in this blog, but at the time, I honestly used it as a way to meet people. If the only thing I had to do on the weekends was to go out with BlueEyes28, then at least I was doing something other than renting Blockbuster Express movies. I wasn’t very open on my profile, I didn’t post many photos, and because I wasn’t technically “looking for love” (was a tad creeped out by the idea of cyber romance, to be frank) – I didn’t want the dudes to know that.
Come to find out, sometimes there are worse things than having no friends: awful dates with strange men. One dude who claimed he was 29, turned out to be 36, another asked me when I was ready to have children within the first twenty minutes, a very odd one cried when he talked about his late cat, and another who said he was six-feet-tall, was barely my height. So when Mr. Millionaire shot an arrow towards me on OkCupid, I didn’t have the highest of hopes.
So instead of meeting him right away, I decided to invite him to Gchat. I figured if I could determine how he responded to my interrogations, maybe he would be an enjoyable date, as opposed to a flat-out terrifying one. Surprisingly, he was very easy to talk to. And though they were just typed sentences, we seemed to click. I wasn’t sure how much we had in common, but when he asked if I’d go to an incredibly well-rated restaurant with him, I happily agreed. I mean, I was still living off Ramen – so how could I decline an invitation like that?
I usually attempt to be fashionably late to dates, just to keep them waiting, but somehow I arrived earlier than him, gave the name, and sat down to for some much-needed water. In the ten minutes it took him to join me at the table, I admired the scene, the smells, and the glamarous people who put my H&M dress and Carlos Santana shoes to shame. The entry-level editorial assistant in me wondered, “What am I doing here? The menu doesn’t even have prices on it!”
Before I could get too down on myself, Mr. Millionaire, in his 6’5″ stature walked in the door and I gave him my best “Oh, you look different than your pictures” fake smile. He started rambling about the traffic and how he just told his driver that he’d walk a block since it was taking so long, and he hoped my commute wasn’t bad. I started to tell him the subway and walking was just fine, but refrained and settled on a nod. When the waitress arrived, he went ahead and ordered us appetizers and cocktails, without my opinion, and then turned to start quizzing me. As I went into first-date protection mode, I studied his face, his movements, and clothes and decided this German man, was in fact, wealthy. I don’t know how scientific or accurate this is, but sometimes, you can just look at someone and know they have money.
He wasn’t an unattractive man and he had a very confident air about him. Once he seemed pleased with my responses, I became brave enough to ask him what he did for a living, and the rest of the standardized getting-to-know you questions. Had he not ordered us what I was sure was a bottle of wine well over $100, I probably would have spewed it across the room when he oh-so-casually stated:
“Oh, I own my own investment company. We have offices downtown in the Wall Street area. Currently, I’m living alone two buildings down from the Empire State in a two-bedroom on the 34th floor. It wasn’t my first pick, but it’s nice. I also am the head of a charity organization that’s really important to me.”
At this point, I considered telling him that I live on the border of Harlem, in a very, very small studio that isn’t air conditioned, and I was currently mostly friendless. But before I could say anything, he looked at me and matter-of-factly said, “You have very beautiful eyes and I’m enjoying your company – you seem like you have a lot of ambition and passion. Would you want to get drinks after this?”
Even though I wasn’t sure if I was fully attracted to him, what I thought about our vastly different lifestyles, and his nearly-bald head – I did what any intrigued young woman would do. I replied, “Well, of course!”
He didn’t attempt to kiss me at the end of our date, but did ask me if I’d like to come over two days later, to see his view, and maybe watch a movie. Knowing full and well what that usually turns into, I considered passing on his offer, but he was leaning into the cab, as I had always dreamed, and I did want to see what a real-life New York apartment looked like, so…I simply replied “Ok” and kissed his cheek, before the cabbie drove away.
I decided that if I’m going to be lonely in a city of millions – I should at least entertain the company of Mr. Millionaire. What harm could it really do?
If dating and relationships are meant to teach you not only about your wants and needs, but about yourself, then Mr. Millionaire showed me how very little I actually need, compared to what I thought I wanted. His apartment is unmistakably beautiful: he shipped all his furniture from Germany, commissioned artwork that featured portraits of the city, and he (or rather, his maid) kept the place immaculate. As for the view, I can’t give it justice in words as well as this photo can:
But even though he had this incredible residence and kissed me outside on his balcony for our “first kiss” as the sun set against the Manhattan skyline – something was off. As much as I tried, I just didn’t feel that indescribable connection that we all lust after and can never really find, unless we actually stop looking for it. He wasn’t a bad guy by any means – his success, ambition, and humbleness impressed me, and he always did what he said he was going to do. It was just…it didn’t work. Maybe because there was a 10-year age difference or we literally lived in completely different worlds in the same city – but there were things about him that drove me crazy.
When we ordered takeout, he insisted on putting everything on plates and setting the table just so. When I gushed over the fact he had an actual washer and dryer in his own apartment, he admitted he sent his laundry out to be done for him. When we did watch that movie and I went to his fully-equipped kitchen to get some water – I realized he didn’t have any food, to which he casually said he only orders takeout, goes out, and hates to cook. He read my articles, critisized them, and though he said I had talent, he was more interested in the sex pieces I freelanced on the side. He didn’t seem to understand what publishing was about, nor did he really care too much. And when the World Cup rolled around, he said in passing he’d be staying in South Africa until it was over. Oh, because anyone can just pick up and do that.
Perhaps the most telling sign that I needed to stop seeing Mr. Millionaire, regardless of the many wonderous restaurants and events he took me to (and was planning to take me to) – was when he started to go past first base and my reaction was to run to the bathroom to keep myself from crying because it felt…so wrong. I used every excuse to let him know I needed to leave and instead of flirting with him from inside the cab, I sobbed in it the whole way home. Not due to him or his actions, but because I knew I was keeping him around for the wrong reasons.
While I never thought New York would be like Sex & the City (introduce me to one writer who writes one column a week and lives in the West Village and I may change my mind) – I did have this romantic idea about what my life would be like. And with Mr. Millionaire, I got to experience that. I was fancy and could order anything I wanted without looking at the menu, and I was lucky enough to go about town with an extremely gregarious gentleman.
But what I realized was designer clothes, apartments, views, and men can bring you a lot of joy – but they will never be enough for love. I really did want to fall head over $800-heels with Mr. Millionaire, yet not because of who he was, but for the idea of the life I could live with him. A life that didn’t include me worrying about money, traveling, or living arrangements. Sure, it would have been easy – but would it have been worth it?
As for me and my city, I’d rather make my own fortune than marry into it, eat Chinese food out of the container, naked in bed instead of sitting properly at an imported table, and be with someone, who regardless of how much money they make or what the view is like out their window – I can’t deny the magic between us. Nor would I ever think to pull away when he goes for a home-run.
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