It was April 2014, I’m driving up the mountains to Lake Arrowhead, CA when I see these two guys sitting at a table off the side of the road, rather middle of nowhere, with a hand painted sign: “WILD ORGANIC HONEY.”
They’re “wwoofers,” they say – as, in WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Apparently that’s a thing. I say this is pretty cool, hand over $8 for the honey, leave. The honey tastes about the same as normal honey. Ah well.
April, 2015: Harlem, NYC
A year later, up pops up a message on Tinder* from this strapping young man… and a falcon.
Enter the Farmer, who leads off with the following. Remember I’d said outright that if you don’t recycle, we probably wouldn’t work.
And I know what you’re thinking.
HOT. Talk about eco-friendly, amirite?
He asks why I’m in New York and shares that he just moved here after working on an organic farm in Israel for a year to write, work the farm, and be close to his brother. Wait a sec- like wwoofing? I tell him about the random guys with the honey, that I’ve been intrigued ever since. Back and forth we chat til he says he’s interested in hearing more…over drinks?
Hmm, love of recycling, close to his family, disdain for selfie culture, purpose-driven, soul searching traveler…yep, drinks sound great. I’ve gotta hear more about this guy.
We meet up at the darling little hipster bar right next to Double Dutch coffee and man, I wish you could have been there. No matter who you are – pretty sure you would have swooned.
6′ something, tan, short brown hair, cute stylish glasses, still in his work clothes (you know, button-down with the sleeves rolled up, because of course).
Painfully cute, guys.
Like, oh jeez relax be cool oh God hiiiiii type of cute.
And here’s the thing- as he sits alone waiting, he’s not passing time on his phone, like I’d probably do. He’s just sitting near the window reading: quietly, comfortably, confidently. The Year of Living Biblically. Something like “OhmiGodiLoveYou” zips through my mind before rationality kicks in and suggests we seriously calm down.
His face lights up to a smile and we both go in for a hug which feels totally normal even though he’s still a perfect stranger. Emphasis on perfect.
“Hey! Great to meet you!”
He already has a drink, asks what I’d like, and wasting no time, slides right up to the bar to add it to his tab. Handled. I know that’s fairly standard, but with how seamless and debonair, it all seems, you’d think he just flipped his Benz keys to the valet. His Hybird Benz.
And it’s clear in about five minutes that this is going to be a good night. Because I nod at his Labatt’s Blue and ask him if he wants to know a fun fact about his beer before realizing that’s a little weird. But for whatever reason, he’s into it: “YES, I want to hear a fun fact about it. Tell me.” So I let him know he’s drinking the #1 beer of Canada, in fact. So good choice. At least according to the Canadians? For whatever that’s worth.
And he chuckles and asks if we’re judging by production, consumption or sales. I have to admit I have no idea, which probably kills the anecdote.
“Nah,” he chuckles. “Hey, it’s more than I knew about Labatt’s five minutes ago.”
I like this guy.
There’s much ground to cover, and we talk farmstays and Fresno and Netflix and Miami before dishing about weird and fun Tinder is.
We liken going on a Tinder date to seeing a piece of art in a museum: you get to stop for a moment, study it, appreciate it exists…even if it’s not the art you’d want to buy and put up in your house. That’s what makes it fun to us- if you believe all people are at least worth a bit of time, the act of getting to know another person can make you appreciate how wonderful and weird mankind can be, because here’s a brand new human sitting in front of you that you get to share life with momentarily. It’s totally weird, and oddly sacred.
But in the midst of all this talking and laughing and Tinder meta-analysis, guess who’s sitting four feet away from us? The Philosopher. That cute-in-an-academic-way-son-of-a-gun who wanted to hang out again and then dropped off. And he’s definitely on a date.
Granted, if you’re going to run into someone who didn’t take you out again, running into them on a date of your own when you’re having an awesome time with a dazzling specimen of a human is NOT a bad way to go.
And yes – I checked out the girl he’s with to see if she’s cooler than me. Turns out it’s difficult to know this just by looking at a person. What I can say is, she reminded me of early-series Hermione, possibly well-versed in the Dewey Decimal system with a rather impressive command of medeival literature. These are all just hypotheses, but I think they’re pretty reasonable.
Alright, Other Girl, you win. Good luck with Ron Weasley.
Back at our table, the Farmer asks if I’d be warm enough to sit outside for another drink, because they have rocking chairs here. We agree this is the only thing we SHOULD do, so we sit on the back porch, fresh cocktails in hand, and chat by bistro lights and a hazy moon.
The Farmer scoots closer as he tells me more about his year in Israel, farming and witing and deepening his Jewish faith. We exchange thoughts on the excitement and challenge of traveling to a new place alone. Sometimes these alone times are the times we’re best able to see deeply into life, he suggests. Not always easy and comfortable, yet times that may move us closer to ourselves, and to the divine, though we seem farther from most everything else.
I agree, and admit that these travels have been an odd mix of adventure, peace, fear and worry, varying day to day, sometimes hour to hour. He nods and pauses to think for a moment.
“I’ve definitely felt all of that, and it’s not easy. But when that anxiety and fear creep in, when things don’t make sense or line up perfectly, what I’ve found most helpful is to listen to the discomfort, not to run from it but to sit quietly and rediscover that why. Why am I doing what I’m doing? Why am I willing to sacrifice comfort and security, and what do I hope to find instead? Go back to that why, and hold on to it deeply.”
I don’t know whether I’m talking to a 20-something on Tinder, a therapist, transcendentalist, or some combination of the three. Whoever he is, I like him.
He wants to know more about why I left work. It seems like he’ll understand the reasons I don’t usually say – reasons that don’t fit career or life-planning logic.
“You know, I’d worked at the same great commpany for a solid 6, 6 1/2 years, and I had a pretty good routine. But the routine was also all I knew, and I kept wondering what would happen if I dropped it, if I just….stopped working for awhile… I guess I want to see what would grow in life – personally, professionally – if just kind of…let the ground lay fallow for a little while.”
I pause, resolute but self-conscious, afraid this sounds ridiculous: Quit a good job just so you can…see what it’s like not to work in that good job??
Surprisingly, he smiles back warmly like he knows a bit about what I mean.
“It’s funny – you call it a sabbatical, you talk about letting the ground lay fallow….You know what’s funny, Megan?
You are so Jewish.”
I can’t help but laugh, and return the smile right back to him. I liked this guy, liked sitting here finishing off my cocktail, liked sharing these snippets of life. And when a super hot Jewish Farmer tells you you’re so Jewish, you take it as one hell of a compliment. 🙂
But it’s late, he’s working early in the morning, and I know it’s time to wrap up. Here’s when you really start wondering whether the past few hours were more than a blip on the radar of the other person’s social life.
He’s about to pay and I offer to chip in. He just looks at me and says, “don’t be silly. You don’t have a job.” My first thought is, “don’t be silly. You work at a nonprofit” but I just thank him instead.
“So – I’d love to show you around Brooklyn sometime, there’s so much to see out there and you’ve barely even been. But I gave you my number twice, you know, so text me already, none of this silly Tinder messaging!”
I laugh and agree, we hug and linger for just a moment before he walks to 116th to catch a train back to BK. And I breathe a sigh of relief, because I’d survived, and it was fun. Though-provoking. Lovely. I practically skip back to the apartment.
Guys like this exist, people like this exist, (we know this, but those reminders are wonderful) – people who like sitting in rocking chairs til late, exchanging thoughts on what it feels like to be human. I didn’t want this to be our last conversation. Surely if there was someone to connect with on any sort of a deeper level, if there was anyone who things might flourish with in the short time in the city, it’d be this guy. He was equal parts pllayful and soulful, and we could weave with ease from existential questions to Parks and Rec plotlines – it just seemed to work.
But life turned out to be a lot less predictable than that.