On Wednesday, I was looking forward to the twice-monthly discussion group. Ever since the last one, when I got the sign that a certain Russian lady is definitely someone I want to get to know better, I was determined to get her phone number and ask her out for at least coffee at a cool cafe that is devoted to travel. When she walked in at our usual restaurant meeting place, she looked radiant, with a scarf around her neck and a leopard-print shirt. She sat next to me on this long table with several seats open. She asked how my week went and when I told her about the death of a co-worker and recounted the shocking manner of his death, without missing a beat, she simply said that he probably did not check his cholesterol level. Wow. That reminds me. Maybe I need to get mine checked. I love such insight.
One person asked how the trivia night went. She told the other person that our team did pretty good, all thanks to me. I was stunned. She thinks I'm really smart, but I only answered a few questions correctly. It was more of the idea that I knew what I knew on questions she and others had no clue about. I'm flattered though.
While the dialogue was about the future of nuclear power, I listened to what others had to say because I'm still indecisive about it. On one hand, the technology for renewable energy is not where it needs to be in order to sustain our country, on the other, the biggest problem with nuclear power is what to do with the toxic waste and spent fuel rods that have a half-life of 100,000 years (I read somewhere, but don't take that as gospel!). I lived on board a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and never felt in any kind of danger. If there is an incident on the number of nuclear powered ships in the Navy, we'd hear about it. The strict safety and regulation standards seem to be good and it is the best of all current options regarding energy, but the risk of catastrophe will always be present.
Anyhow, throughout the discussion, I was thinking of ways on how to ask her for her number and if I should ask her out for coffee first, or to dinner, or to see a movie (like The Adjustment Bureau), or just mention Johnny Clegg's concert in a month and asking if she wants to go. She impressed me by coming out as being adamantly opposed to nuclear power. Everyone else seemed to be on the same page that its a "necessary evil" at this point, until alternative energy sources are dependable, consistent, and abundant. One of the worries people mentioned was China having more nuclear power plants and based on the reputation for shoddy construction, this is seen as a scary scenario for our planet. The Russian lady mentioned that she had visited China in 2008 just prior to the Olympics and she was stunned by the uneven floors in the hotel she had stayed in. China is in the boom years and they are cutting too many corners regarding safety regulations.
As the discussion tapered off and people started getting ready to leave, I had asked her about her trip to China. I mentioned wanting to see China someday and she said that I should go on a trip there soon. I told her that I'd love to, but Australia was the country next on my list of places to see. I want to visit Australia before I see any other country (or New Zealand). She mentioned that she was planning a trip to Australia this year. She is going, she just doesn't know where she wants to go in that country yet. Then, the facilitator of the group had mentioned visiting Australia for three weeks in 2007 and they started talking. Then, one lady across the table heard them talking about Australia and mentioned that she was half-Australian, so she was able to give advice on places worth seeing on a two-week whirlwind vacation Down Under. By that point, I was hopelessly out of luck. I talked with a guy about Sarah Palin (he's a liberal of India heritage who grew up in Qatar who believes that Sarah Palin will be the next president) and her recent trip to India. Now, he doesn't think she's going to run and worries about Michelle Bachmann winning the Republican nomination.
Downstairs, I pick up a copy of the latest Willamette Week to browse through as I wait for the Russian lady to pass by on the way out into the parking lot. Eventually, the stragglers do make their way down the stairs, but she's still in conversation with the half-Australian lady. She sees me reading and says goodbye, and I follow them out, hoping that the conversation will break up so I can finally ask what I've wanted to ask for two weeks now: for her phone number so we can go out and have a conversation without the distractions of the group. She's well traveled, intelligent, and beautiful in a way I don't find intimidating at all. In fact, her personality is so familiar to me and its likely because she has a similar personality to Christine. But I'm certain now that I am attracted to this lady for her own personality and being, rather than just being a reminder of someone I had lost. Perhaps Christine's role in my life was to give me clarity about what I'm looking for in a relationship, and this Russian lady is the fulfillment of what I had hoped to find. Who knows, at this point?
I didn't wait around until the conversation between the two ladies ended, because I didn't know how long that would be. So, I left for the bus stop, cursing Cupid for not helping me. And the irony is that it was all my fault, because I had mentioned Australia and that got several conversations going, with her attention divided to whomever could provide the information she was seeking about her upcoming vacation. That's the danger about having a conversation among a group of well traveled, well educated young professionals. This group is a huge blessing in my life and it always amazes me that no matter how diverse our experiences, we all have travel experiences in common and a global worldview. This is quite the contrast from the neighbourhood I live in, where everyone tends to be poor, alcoholics or drug users, uneducated, low class, probably hardly ever leave the state and never been out of the country before. Its a strange dichotomy to see the contrast between the circles I run in versus the area in which I live (a low class, redneck neighbourhood with some Asian and hispanic neighbours).
So, Cupid is stupid for not helping me with a smoother process. I really like this lady. I have no idea if she likes me but I definitely want to learn more about her and her life experience. She had moved from Russia with her family about twenty years ago. I'm very curious to know what life was like growing up in the USSR in the 1980s. Its been a fascination of mine since I was in the first grade, when I checked out a book by TimeLife called "A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union" or something like that. Based on my experiences with this lady so far, though, I really like what I see and I like the way I feel in her presence. I've only felt this way with Christine, Jenet, and Yudelka in the past dozen years, so I hope there's a mutual attraction. Its time to make my theme for this year a reality ("Facing Forty Through Love and Literature"). I really hope she will be at the discussion group in two weeks. Its my last chance to get her number before the Johnny Clegg concert and I think that would make an excellent first date. Especially if I can snag backstage passes like I have at a few of his other concerts.