An Anxious Person Tries to Be Chill

Eventually, it was obsessing over my neighbor that grew boring — trying to make dinner plans with someone who found reservations “restricting” and watching friends zone out as I complained, yet again, about him canceling.

I stopped leaving my light on all night, got some proper sleep, found a therapist and became open to the possibility of meeting someone else.

That someone was Henry, a friend of a friend I met at a film screening. He had freckles all over his face and a big, unselfconscious smile. He was British, like me, but the similarities ended there. He was obsessed with being outdoors, loved to cook and was a moderate drinker.

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By contrast, I considered a trip to Central Park hiking, got my meals (sushi, cupcakes, pre-cut fruit) at the gourmet deli, and wasn’t moderate at anything.

I liked him instantly, but I didn’t fantasize about marrying him.

For one of our early dates, Henry made reservations at three restaurants and let me pick which one to go to. On another, we saw a documentary about the evils of salmon farming. In the following months, we met up once or twice a week to eat, go to the theater or see an exhibition. There was no waiting up late for him, no will-he-won’t-he show up.

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I was used to downing a person like a shot, but with Henry, I sipped. He surprised me with his juggling skills (he’d been taught as a child to help with his dyslexia) and talked about his role as the peacekeeper between his older brother and younger sister. Later, he told me about his friend who was killed in a hit-and-run during their first year of university, the shock and the grief of it.

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