A Smalltimore Dating Moment


I had practically just slid onto my stool at the bar at Union Collective and taken a sip of my sour beer when the guy I was on a first date with began telling me about his job. “Oh, I know someone who works there! My friend, Jill.” He nodded, I imagined feeling my same relief that we had a mutual friend, you know, because any common ground at a first meeting helps break the ice. Then, he gulped his own beer, and finished his thought. “She’s my neighbor.”

I sat and stared straight ahead for a few seconds. “What?” I replied. I was dumbstruck. “Jill is MY neighbor.” I near-shouted it with my eyebrows up to my hairline. I think I gripped his shoulder a little too tightly. Definitely too tightly for a first meeting, er, 30 seconds into a date. It took a few more minutes for it to sink in, but the guy I had only met on Bumble, and had a brief conversation with about Earth Treks where he goes every Wednesday night to climb after his teaching job, and Union Brewery, where he can often be found grabbing a beer after, was my neighbor directly across the street. I mean, directly.

If we lived downtown in Canton, or Federal Hill, it would be one thing. But we live on a small side-street in Mount Washington. The only cars coming down our road are driven by the people that live on it. He lived so close I could see into his bedroom window easily, without squinting (not that I’ve ever tried that …). And yet, we had never met. It didn’t take long for us to start joking that the date better go well because otherwise, we’d be in for some awkward encounters. Luckily, it did go well. Flash-forward a month later, and my Bumble-date-neighbor is now my new boyfriend, which is as amazing as it is convenient (especially for a mom of two who needs a porch hangout buddy).

I’d say that the moral is, get outside and talk to your neighbors, and it would be a good one. Only… my neighbors are some of my closest friends. But they are moms with kids my kids run around with, not single guys with roommates. The truth is, we kept different schedules, and we may have crossed paths a thousand times, but we probably wouldn’t have stopped to chat (or flirt). I likely thought he was a college kid and he thought of me as a mom. Our lives didn’t intersect, until we found ourselves connecting on a dating app, then, face-to-face.

Perhaps the moral is put yourself out there, whether it’s on an app or in your own front yard. Because meaningful connections can be anywhere and everyone. And they might be closer to home than you guessed. At least in Smaltimore.

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