Neither of us considered this to be a date until much later.
In hindsight though? We absolutely agreed it was.
Anyway, our first date wasn't really a date.
Well, it was a date. We just wouldn't have admitted it at the time. I think we grokked that it was special, but it wasn't super clear to either of us why.
The second date we realized was a date shortly after it happened. At least Hillary did. I'm not super sure what I thought it was other than a lot of fun with a lady that I was absolutely interested in.
The third date we both knew was a legit, straight up, date flavoured date. Dinner, a couple of drinks and a long walk home.
The first one though, that was a tough one. While we did discuss this date many times over the course of our relationship, it was mostly references to it. I don't recall what instigated it. I should have asked Hillary when I had the chance and we might have been able to figure it out.
Ah well. I can only now piece it together based on what I knew our friendship was like at the time.
We were likely instant messaging each other some afternoon in July of 2004. Perhaps it was after work, but I think it was more likely a weekend. I strongly suspect we were both hungry and one of us actually mentioned needing to do something about that.
Since we were messaging each other and had been heavily for weeks at this point, it seemed wise to continue the conversation in person. So she or I invited the other and somehow we decided to go to Kelsey's.
This restaurant changed over the years, but in the early 2000's at least, it had some tasty, relatively inexpensive menu options. Exactly the kind of place a couple of folks recently out of the student life would appreciate.
Almost certainly she picked me up.
I actually have visual memories of this date. This does make me think that at the time I knew it was something special. It was sunny out. We sat near a window and there was a lot of natural light. The place was on Merivale Road not too far from where I was living at the time.
Aside from that though? My memories are just of a general good feeling for most of it. We ordered, ate, and talked. We didn't split dessert. She drove me home. I would have said goodbye in the car and got out.
I do have a vague memory of a pretty complicated feeling when we were getting seated and settling in. Some combination of, and to be clear, these are articulations of feelings and not actual thoughts:
- I like this person and this will be nice.
- You need to be on your A game now.
- So fun to talk to Hillary, yay!
- This might be a thing, do not screw up.
It's a mess, but emotions often are. And we're talking 14 years out now, so take a grain of salt with that.
But you know, I know me and that seems like a true memory of the emotion.
Kelsey's would become a favourite of ours for a couple of years due to this first date. By the time we got embarrassingly cute, our dinner there would be an appetizer, we'd split an order of fajitas, and share a dessert.
By the time we left Ottawa, Kelsey's had moved down in our list. We went one last time for nostalgia's sake in the winter of 2008 before we moved to White Rock. We talked in passing once or twice about taking the kids to the "first date Kelsey's", but that particular one closed years ago.
So it goes.