• Dina

Temporary People

Saturday August 5, 2017

She laid there on the old leather couch swiping through the dating app, filling the free time she had now that she was single again. The afternoon sun slipped through the curtains, warming the otherwise freezing apartment. Ava had always assumed she’d be the type to fall deeply in love with someone and marry them without hesitation, but romance had proved to be more complicated.

High school Ava thought she’d just marry her high school sweetheart but as time passed she learned too much about herself and about him for that to be possible. For example, she loves women. He did not love that his partner was queer.

The dating landscape had continuously changed for Ava since high school. Compatibility was not simple. She learned a lot about herself that she did not like and while she worked on herself she was not going to settle for anyone whose complex set of traits could not complement her own.

However, she found herself downloading a popular dating app her friends had all recommended because “meeting people you don’t work with is hard.” One of her friends had said this after Ava’s messy break up with one of her co-workers. Convinced, Ava, curled up under her roommate’s bright blue throw, downloaded her first dating app and began to learn what people meant when they said “left” and “right” swipe.

At first, the barrage of faces was jarring. It felt like too much all at once. They say that there are plenty of fish in the sea; for Ava, it felt as though she had jumped into the sea and landed in an angler’s net where an unsuspecting school of fish had been caught. After several swipes she couldn’t take it anymore. She set her phone down on the coffee table and went on about her day.

That night, as she laid in bed re-watching Parks and Recreation, her phone made a small unfamiliar “ding”. She picks it up and it’s a notification from the Hinder app.

“You’ve got a new match.” It reads with three heart emojis. Ava can’t help but roll her eyes, but curiosity ebbs away at her skepticism. She opens it and the match is with a woman with short blonde hair. Ava remembers lingering on her picture earlier. She was a dog mom who loved the outdoors. In one of her pictures, she was attempting a cartwheel which Ava found adorable. She sent Ava a message.

Her: So what’s your favorite coffee shop in the city?”

This new excitement lead to Ava replying immediately.

Ava: It’s so hard to choose they all have their pros and cons.

She set the phone down for moment, but picked it up again eager to keep this conversation going. The woman didn’t immediately respond so Ava turned her attention to other apps on her phone. Mindlessly scrolling through photos, news, and updates. Three episodes and several posts later, she had still not responded. However, since then, Ava had also gotten two more matches. The conversations played out similarly, in that they didn’t happen. Too nervous, Ava could not bring herself to start a conversation with either matches, and neither did the other women. She guessed.

Friday September 8th, 2017

Over the next month, as she became more acquainted with the app she approached matches with a well-maintained skepticism. Tonight however, she was going on her first date. Ava had been talking to this woman for a few days before agreeing to a date. She felt nervous. Before this, most of her romantic partners came into her life through shared experiences. In other words, they were co-workers or classmates. This woman, she was a complete stranger. Ava only knew what little she shared over messages. She didn’t know her quirks. She had no friend she could ask, to tell her more.

They met at an older coffee shop that Ava had driven by many times but had never thought to enter. You would call it a hole in the wall type place. Ava arrived first. She sat at the edge of an old tattered couch with her eyes on the door, taking in the shops old musk. She sat up right every time the door opened. In between, she’d play with the loose threads on the armrest or distract herself with her phone.

When she finally arrived, the two exchanged a hug and ordered drinks. They spent the night talking and while Ava enjoyed the conversation, she felt no spark, no intrigue. This woman could be a nice friend but there was no connection. They went for dinner, talked some more, Ava paid the check, and they went their separate ways.

Tuesday September 26th, 2017

Evelyn: Yeah, I write a lot of dystopian stuff.

Ava couldn’t help but smile. As a fellow writer, she felt a connection with Evelyn. They had only been speaking for a week, but Ava wanted to know Evelyn’s whole story, and Evelyn was an open book who answered her questions with kind honesty.

Ava: I’d love to read some of your writing.

Evelyn: Okay. Hold on.

Ava: Holding.

Evelyn: Here you go.

She linked her to one of her stories. Ava read with an unabashed eagerness. Reading someone else’s stories felt like an act of intimacy. It was as if Evelyn had trusted her with a piece of herself. The story was about two women who had been torn apart by a war but were reunited again on the battlefield. The end of the story left Ava wanting more.

Ava: Oh my goodness. I absolutely loved it. Have you ever thought to build on the story?

Evelyn: Yeah. I’ve been working on a whole world if you want to read more.

Ava: Of course.

The two discussed stories and characters and world building. It was all exciting and new for Ava who had been so quiet and with her own writing until recently.

Later that same day, working up the courage, Ava asked Evelyn the question that had been dancing through her mind all day.

Ava: How about a date?

Evelyn responded almost immediately but Ava could not bring herself to look at the response. She was so nervous she distracted herself with everything she could think of. She scrolled through her Instagram feed looking through posts she’d already seen. She fed her cats dinner. She started to clean her room until she realized it might look like she was ignoring Evelyn. With unsure hands she picks up the phone and opens the message.

Evelyn: Absolutely. I’ve got something this weekend, but how about next weekend?

Ava: Deal!

She wanted to squeal like a little girl. She smiled at her phone for a moment before continuing the conversation.

Wednesday October 4th, 2017

Ava: I guess I just try to joke about my traumas.

Somehow, they had started talking about their childhoods. Having both grown up in broken homes the two had developed their own ways of coping.

Evelyn: Most of my best friendships come from shared traumas.

Ava: I can’t say the same thing. I’ve never been compelled to share because none of my friends have similar experiences. They’re all so normal.

Evelyn: Are they normal? Or are we what’s normal? So many of us have experienced childhood trauma, who is to say we’re not?

Ava: I’ve never thought of it that way. I’m so used to feeling like such an oddity amongst my own friends that I never thought to consider myself as normal.

She was enthralled. Hanging on the edge of Evelyn’s every word. She waited patiently for a response. When it never came she assumed Evelyn had gone to sleep and she followed suit.

Thursday October 5th, 2017

Ava hadn’t heard from Evelyn all day. As soon as she got home from work, she threw herself on her bed enjoying its comfort. She sits up and pulls her phone out of the purse she had tossed to the side. Still nothing. She had grown accustomed to hearing from her by now. They hadn’t been talking for too long, but it felt almost like a routine.

After dinner with her roommates that night Ava decided she’d break the silence.

Ava: Hey, hope you had a good day and that everything is alright.

A little more than thirty minutes she replies.

Evelyn: I did. Sorry, my phone has been dead and I got dragged out to the bar.

Ava: No worries. I lowkey thought I said something stupid to scare you off. Have fun!

Evelyn: Haha not with me.

Ava: I could surprise you.

Friday October 6th, 2017

She hadn’t heard from Evelyn since the night before. She ended up not hearing from her at all.

Saturday October 7th, 2017

When they first started talking, a seemingly overzealous Evelyn had added her on Snapchat, followed her on Instagram, as well as her blog. Today was the day of their date, around 5:00 PM when they were supposed to meet, Ava sat in a coffee shop by herself removing all traces of Evelyn from her accounts. She called it a cleanse.

Wednesday October 25th, 2017

Diane: So, if this is a totally weird suggestion, feel free to say no. But would you want to meet up to carve pumpkins this weekend?

Ava had been talking to Diane for a few days. She was very fun and very extroverted. This worried Ava slightly because she imagined her own introverted nature might make her come across as boring, but what did she have to lose?

Ava: Absolutely.

(Photo not mine. If you know the source, please let me know.)

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