Our first date. Laura was a little late, but that meant I was waiting on the bridge as she crossed the Delaware from the Pennsylvania side to the New Jersey side of Washington Crossing Park. She said I looked forlorn. We walked up the Delaware-Raritan Canal and then in and through Titusville and back out and farther up the canal. It was a beautiful, if fiercely hot evening. Early into the walk she mentioned something about opera, and I said that I loved opera. She stopped and exclaimed that I just went up immensely in her estimation. We quickly agreed to go to Tosca in Camden a week from Saturday.
Tosca is her favorite opera, and Puccini her favorite composer. While I like parts of Madama Butterfly, I find large stretches immensely tedious. Manon Lescaut is even worse. (Fifteen years later, in our last opera season together we went to see Turandot in Philadelphia.) I didn’t tell her on our first date, however, what I felt about Puccini.
We did the usual talking about backgrounds, families, etc. She talked about her separation and divorce. I talked about mine. I suppose we would have walked to Frenchtown, but I started to get very thirsty so I suggested we turn around. When we got back near Washington’s Crossing, we crossed over Route 29 to get something to drink at “The Fifties” diner. We ended up having hamburgers for supper.
There was a long line and slow service. As soon as I got any attention, I asked for water for Laura who said she was dying of thirst. She had talked about eating outside, but I made no move to go out of the air conditioning after our food came. We enjoyed the meal. She is a slow, light eater. There was a father with his two children there. Custody for the weekend? For Father’s Day? The boy started talking to us. Comparing his hamburger with Laura’s. Mine was gone by then. At the end of the meal he and his sister came to stand by our table. She was delightful with the blue of the juices from her cotton candy covering her lips and cheeks and chin. She was wearing little round sunglasses. I think they were prescription because when she took them off, her eyes looked out of focus every once in a while. But she had beautiful eyes.
As we were starting to walk back along the canal, Laura said she had a sudden attack of loneliness. (We’d talked about dealing with being alone a lot.) I asked why. She couldn’t answer directly at first, but then said it was because she realized how much there was to learn about a person.
As we were nearing the bridge again, I said I would like to do something with her tomorrow. I think, no, I know she was thinking, hoping, that I might ask this because she said she’d already talked to her friend from New York who is coming to visit tomorrow about this guy she’s met and how he might want to do something with her tomorrow and she has the Philadelphia Inquirer weekend section to check what we might go to. We agreed that I would come to her house at 5 for supper and then we’d go see Almodovar’s new movie, Kika.