We've made plans to meet in public, because that's what you're supposed to do when you meet someone from the internet, someone you don't know. I'm not exactly sure how this is different from plans you make with someone you've met in real life, in a bar or a restaurant, but I don't make the rules. This is just the way it's done.
I have a pit in my stomach as I drive toward the coffee shop and I want to turn around and go home. Not because I really want to go home, but because I think I might throw up. I'm dreading those awkward first 5 to 10 minutes before you settle into conversation, the minutes during the taking off of the coat and the getting of the coffee or the beer/wine/drink if it's already dark out. I'm looking forward to the part after that: the talking, the laughing, the sharing of stories, the laying out of who you each of you is and what you're made of. THAT is the fun part. THAT is what keeps me driving.
I'm almost 10 minutes late by the time I pull into the parking lot, and I'm glad for it. I had texted him in a panic to apologize for getting a late start, but now I'm grateful for the shoe that was hiding under the bed and the lipstick that was wrong, needing to be wiped off and switched out for a different shade. I know he's already there because his text back said, "Just got here, take your time."
I sit in the car for a moment. I can see him through the window, at the table, engrossed in his phone, a coffee before him. The coffee is very tall. This scores a point in my book. He looks like the picture from his profile. Score another point.
I take a last check of my hair and make-up in the rearview mirror before I get out. I wonder if he feels like he's going to throw up too. A woman walks into the shop and I see him look up briefly, then back down at his phone.
He sips his coffee.
He looks up, looks around.
He's waiting for me.
I take a deep breath and get out of the car. In a few hours I'll have put him into one of three categories: 'Umm...No', 'Too Soon To Tell', or 'Definite Potential'.
But right now, as I walk toward the door, as I reach for the handle, as I step into the coffee shop, as I give him a smile, anything is possible.
And THAT is what keeps me driving.