He brought a huge picnic mat, his bottle of Hendricks, plastic cups, a bottle of Sprite, lime, and even ice. We sat facing the sea; it looked calm and peaceful against a dark sky, spray-painted a dusky orange by the lights from the ships in the distance. Our lone source of artificial light was his 300-dollar speaker, doubling as a lava lamp. All I heard was the sound of the waves crashing forcefully against the shore, over and over again; his music through his speaker; and the sound of his voice, and mine, and my laughter, and his.
He showed me the planktons. They were infinitely more visible as the tide rose and the waves crept closer and closer to the shore, towards us. These glow-in-the-dark planktons were like tiny pinpricks of a faint electric blue, etched in the sand. Blink and you'd miss them. Look closely and you'd be rewarded with what you'd see: stars in the sand, he said. 'That's going to be the title of your book.' These miniscule, whimsical things, so ethereal that they seemed not to belong in any reality that I knew, but an alternate one that he was showing me. As if the stars in the night sky had fallen into the sand, defiantly maintaining their glow even after they'd fallen from grace.
We mostly sat, side-by-side; at times, we walked along the shore. There was some physical contact, but he didn't try anything, like I knew that he wouldn't. I liked how he came across as very open, wearing his heart on his sleeves, when we talked over text; and that was exactly how he was. Perhaps I was infected by a combination of his openness and the mind-altering substance that was in my bloodstream, for after some time, I opened up, too. And so when he asked, 'Are you happy?' my knee-jerk response, a nervous laugh and these words, 'That's a very deep question' failed to properly evade the question. And so I answered it honestly.
As far as first dates go, this was one of the better ones. Who can fault a guy who shows you stars in the sand, right? I'm not sure we are each other's types, and I am going back to Cambridge in a matter of weeks; but it was a really fun four hours at the beach at night with a guy who was probably the epitome of an unorthodox Singaporean, who made me laugh, who was nervous at the thought of meeting me but strangely found me very familiar within five minutes of me getting into his (father's) car ('I feel like I know you,' he said); who held my hand as we walked back to his car, put his arm around my waist while we leaned against the boot of his car, looking up at the stars in the sky ('That's Orion's Belt,' I said. He said, 'Yeah, and that reddish star? That's Orion's Penis - Orion's Belt needs to have a penis.' 'Why is he a man?' I protested. 'What about Orion's Vagina?'), but didn't try to manufacture a moment that didn't exactly exist - didn't try to kiss me. He sent me home and hugged me goodbye.
This is the part I like about being single: living and experiencing moments like last night - genuine ones, guided by a casual emotional openness that both parties are willing to display. Perhaps the near-certainty of nothing long-term materialising out of this helped me live in the moment, for I was not thinking about anything that might or might not happen the next day; all I was focused on was the present, the way he was making me laugh with his silly jokes and his pattern of speech, liberally peppered with swear words (I hadn't heard 'sia' in a really long time), and our surprisingly personal conversation. And of course, later - holding his hand. It was very nice.
'I had a lot of fun tonight,' he said after he'd got home. 'You're awesome. Let's hang again and chill sometime if you'd like after [your trip to] Krabi.'