Key Takeaways: “Phase One” COVID times and monsoons don’t mix. Vitals: Name: Roger Length of date: 6 hours – the longest date to date How the date was obtained: arranging it after our third Where: My home in Portland, OR You read that right. I spent six hours with Roger. This was no virtual experience; Roger drove down from Seattle to our house in Portland. So actually, this was a twelve-hour date for Roger – that is commitment. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous going into this. After an introduction through a mutual friend, and three virtual dates, we’d spent hours on FaceTime but never met in person. For this date, I had big plans of playing tennis or bocce ball. We talked about taking a hike in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. Maybe we’d ride bikes in downtown Portland. But the day of the date, a Portland monsoon reared its ugly head. When Roger arrived, I opened the door to find the friendly face I’d gotten to know virtually and my nerves subsided. Freddie (the Schnoodle) greeted him with a warm, ankle-biting! Then I introduced Roger to some non-ankle biting members of my family: my mom and little sister. So far so good, Roger put everyone at ease. Then we drove to a club where my parents belong for lunch. You might read this and think: “Why a club, Isabel? Weird flex.” But in “Phase One” COVID times, it’s one of the only local options for indoor eating, which is pretty appealing during a downpour. Anyway, we arrive and who should we see? My dad. Roger was really getting the full, family welcome! Then, we walked into the restaurant and spotted both sets of grandparents and all my cousins!!! Just kidding. But, if I were Roger, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Roger and I sat down and looked at the menu. I thought strategically about each option. If I ordered my usual, Caesar Salad with chicken (not grilled, but chicken strips because they’re tastier), it might make me seem childish. If I ordered the salmon entrée, I might seem bougie. So, I decided on the roasted vegetable bowl hoping Roger might think, “ooh Isabel is a healthy gal who likes veggies – think I’ll keep her.” I was not optimistic about this dish, but it was important to me that Roger knew I was a cool, veggie-eating type of gal. To my surprise, the veggie bowl was DELISH. Highly recommend. 5 stars. No complaints. After our meal, Roger and I ran back to the car. It was still pouring rain – thanks Oregon – and I didn’t know what to do. There are not many indoor activities during quarantine that don’t involve being in my family-filled house. So, I crossed my fingers that the rain would let up and we could take a stroll around Lake Oswego (a cute little town nearby). Well, the rain was still coming down in buckets, so I took Roger on a drive around the lake. Don’t get me wrong, LO is usually gorgeous, but driving through dirty puddles during a deluge doesn’t show the town in its best light. After the drive, we stopped at a French bakery and ordered hot drinks and a croissant to share. We took the fluffy pastry back to my house and sat at the kitchen table. We talked for quite a while, right up until my family (ankle biters and non-ankle biters alike) came bounding downstairs to join the conversation. Roger was a really good sport through all of this. I mean, my family is super fun and easy to talk to, but I’m sure Roger wasn’t expecting to not only “meet the parents” but “talk extensively to the parents” on our first real date. On the upside, my mom did make us some delicious guacamole (recipe below) and what goes better with a buttery croissant than fresh guac? All in all, it was wonderful to finally meet Roger in person. He made me feel very comfortable and I also felt so special because he’d driven three hours to see me, little ol’ Isabel! In the six hours we spent together, I learned he’s practically perfect: he’s driven, passionate, active, and kind. But, I’m sorry to say, dear Roger fans, I didn’t feel a spark. Part of me thinks it’s because I was stressed by the rainy weather and having to entertain a guest with limited options. Would it have been different if we’d met in a more neutral space outside of quarantine and outside of my childhood home? What if we weren’t practicing social distancing so we could have been physically closer? Yet, part of me knows that some chemistry was missing. Everything in me wants it to work with Roger, despite the geographical implausibility of me living in LA and him in Seattle. It’s disheartening because I hate letting people down and I hate that I could hurt someone as wonderful as Roger. But, I'm starting to understand better that a quality which has been a constant in people I've found attractive is silliness. It's a quality I'm drawn to and is also an undeniable part of who I am. I also take comfort in knowing that I can’t force attraction and that there’s got to be someone in this vast world who is meant for me; someone who has Roger’s remarkable qualities but also sparks romantic feelings. Overall Experience: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The future for us… :/ Next Week: I’ll be heading back to LA pretty soon, so Date a Week LA will finally resume… in LA. Mom’s easy guac recipe (the cuter cousin to my dad’s bean dip recipe): Mash up two or three avocados Squeeze half a lemon over the top Shake garlic salt over the mixture Throw in two or three heaping tablespoons of salsa and serveral dashes of Tabasco to taste. Bon appetite!