My last trip to Provincetown as an available single man was just before I met Andy. Some of the Cornell Collegetown Crew had assembled on the Cape for a week in P-town – Kristen and I took the boat over from Boston, while Suzie, Chris and Alissa arrived by car a few days later. It was the sun-drenched month of July, but it didn’t seem crazy yet.
The guest-house we had rented was close to the Gifford House, and we would spend most evenings at the latter, enjoying the night breeze on the porch, or talking and singing ‘Delta Dawn’ with the boys at the bar. A Tanqueray and tonic was my constant companion, and to this day the taste and fizz of that lime-tinged cocktail brings me back to that summer in P-town.
Despite my swinging-single status, I was not on the lookout for a mate, romantic or otherwise, and once you’re freed of that onerous albatross, the world becomes a lot more fun. Especially if you’re in Provincetown.
Days were spent cutting up fruit from the market and laying on the beach, along with intermittent shopping jaunts along Commercial Street and periodic people-watching. JoAnn and Kim came into town for lunch, and I’d occasionally see a familiar Boston face bobbing among the crowds.
At tea dance Kristen and I checked out the crowd, sizing up potential suitors mostly for fun, for I never had the guts to approach anyone. The five or six dance songs that were most popular then whipped the crowd into its all-too-brief frenzy of arms-in-the-air abandon, and soon it was over.
As night fell, we found ourselves back at the Gifford House, breezily talking with other vacationers as the moon rose overhead. Provincetown was casting its enchantment, and suddenly there he was, before me, returning my none-too-subtle glances and finally coming over to say hello.
His name was Chris, and he had a kind, crinkly-eyed smile. That gets me every time. We spoke with him for a bit, then he departed. I watched him walk away into the night, sighing a wistful sigh of resignation mingled with strange relief and relaxation. I was no longer in the business of looking, even if I hadn’t even met Andy yet.
Later on in the evening, he returned. A candle flickered on the little table between us, light dancing in our eyes and the crowd thinning out on this summer weeknight. We sat on the porch and talked a bit before he walked me home. We went upstairs to my room and did what boys in P-town do together. Moonlight peered in through the windows, mottling the room in shades of gray.
When he left I kicked off the sheets, along with any remaining tendency to fall for my one-night-stands, and laid there looking up at the ceiling in the dim light of night. We hadn’t even exchanged numbers, and I hadn’t bothered to ask.
When we saw each other on the street the next day, we pretended we didn’t. I don’t know which stung worse – the fact that he looked the other way, or that I honestly didn’t care.