We got ourselves ready for our Undateables season finale in Dubrovnik.
He wore a teal t-shirt that nicely hugged his bronzed up muscles and I put on a classic LBD. I say classic, but I guess it was more low-class prostitute really. Anyway, I looked alright from the ankles up. Anything below that was open wounds, bruises, stings, grazes, blisters – oh and a gorgeously tatty pair of yellow and white stripy sponge flipflops with a tacky gold plastic strap that I’d had to emergency purchase from a supermarket after the moonwalk mountain fiasco.
It was an incredibly balmy evening and as we strolled the lantern-lit, cobbled backstreets hand in hand, I thought back to my first night here less than two weeks ago.
I’d wandered these streets alone and had been nothing more than a bystander to the all of the romance. I was taking the first steps of a new adventure on my own…Now, completely unexpectedly, here I was, holding hands with somebody totally beauty-full inside and out who was making me laugh until my belly hurt.
We sat down for a candlelit dinner at Pizzeria Baracuda and recapped on how surreal our Holidate had been.
A FIVE-DAY LONG FIRST DATE
We’d been SO lucky.
First dates do NOT have high success rates – if they did, we wouldn’t need to go through so many of them just to meet somebody we wouldn’t mind putting up with for a while.
Ours had been a five-day-long first date in a foreign land, with limited and potentially exhausting options for escape. But from the moment he took of his helmet, flicked back that hair and prowled towards me, it’s been nothing short of amazing.
We looked through our photographs, laughing hysterically at most of them. Especially the one of me floating aimlessly near to Odysseus Cave with my eyes closed and mouth open. My ears were underwater but I could hear his muffled shouting and as I raised my head I’d noticed he was towering over me from the rocks above, pointing and shouting loudly. “You look like an abandoned sex doll“, in front of a multilingual audience who could quite clearly understand what he meant.
Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, and the things you never want to lose
I’ve just paused in a trance, looking blankly at my screen with my fingers lingering above the keyboard.
I think I’ve just realised how the cameras in my eyes were working over dinner…
It was just like Ben Briand’s short film, Apricot. All of the senses were alive and everything within arm’s reach was in sharp focus but I was totally oblivious to the busy bokeh world around me. It was one of the moments when everything around becomes hazy and the only thing in focus is you and this person.
It was all quality content too.
Too much bantz puts you in the friend zone and too much romance makes you want to vomit, or at least makes people around you want to vomit. We’d managed to strike a seemingly good bantz-romance balance. Like when he told me I was beautiful, but in the same breath excitedly announced he’d finally realised who I reminded him of… “that feral kid from Mad Max“.
Half way through the meal we both paused for a perfectly un-awkward silence.
I think maybe we were both processing the fact that in less than twelve hours, this pre-scheduled holiday romance would be over. My bottom lip kept creeping out to sulk but I swallowed the lump in my throat and smiled over it.
Language, Gelato, Spaghetti
After dinner we strolled over to the marina where I’d enviously watched couples perched on benches, indulging in gelato. Now it was my turn. I ordered the cookie flavour and he got the chocolate. We sat there on a bench, people watching and cackling at the most ridiculous things.
Gelatos gone, we walked further on past the marina and turned the corner to where the fortress ends and the sea begins. We lay down on the cobbles, looking up and listening to the patter of footsteps dodging our heads.
The deep purple velvet curtains of the night sky had fallen but the city lights didn’t stop the stars from shining through.
We were both feeling pretty sleepy but he seemed overly eager to have one last drink to toast out our season finale, so I willingly obliged.
He took my hand and marched me down the quiet cobbled backstreets as quickly as my supermarket flipflops would allow, stopping only to pet stray cats (he clearly has a penchant for all things feral).
We stopped at a chiselled-out doorway in the side of the fortress wall. I paused to take a photograph of the graffiti inside, not realising we’d reached our destination.. My puzzled expressions morphed into delighted ones when I heard faint beats and chattering voices. The penny dropped….this was the place he’d wanted to take me.
I took two steps down and two to the right…
It was just like the scene where Mary Lennox opens the old iron gates to The Secret Garden for the first time, except he wasn’t wearing a frilly frock and I wasn’t a pale, malnutritioned boy in a wheelchair.
We’d stepped out of the fortress walls and out into the Adriatic. There were three tiers of rocks with a few tables and chairs scattered over them lit up with moody red and purple lighting. A cocktail bar with silhouettes of barmen spinning and twisting cocktail shakers and mellow jazz music competing for airtime with the crashing waves.
He said romance wasn’t his forté and I couldn’t quite work out whether he’d intended this to be or not, but this will forever be the most romantic right turn I’ve ever made