My night with David holds a special place in my heart.
I was really excited about the date beforehand, telling everyone about my pending meet-and-greet with “the Australian.” I made sure to look extra special by wearing a new, picked-by-my-most-fashionable-friend sequined tank, covered with my latest Clothes Mentor purchase, and held up by skinny jeans and my can’t-live-without-but-very-worn navy wedges. I strolled into Barrio, all flouncy and bouncy with my new fall hair color (I have ze best hair stylist!) and ready for a fun night. I couldn’t wait to meet a version of the “Ozzie” man I knew from my half year in the country a half decade ago. Tall, chiseled, salty and bronzed, sporting that wicked accent, relaxed-to-the-max attitude and ocean-washed, sun-bleached blond hair.
And there sat David in the back of the restaurant, a vampirely pale little man with a bald, bald, bald head. And you know what? We had a friggin’ BLAST. We spent four hours sipping Surly, laughing and chatting about physics, Australia, books, music, Minneapolis, restaurants and then back to science-based matters.
David, it turns out, has a fantastically unique life story so far — a 28-year-old, Ph.D.-holding physicist from Kiama, New South Wales, he was transplanted to Minneapolis for three years as part of his work at a global nanotechnology company. As a complete if not highly uneducated physics dork myself, we enthusiastically talked about the recent NatGeo article on precious metals, discussed his time at CERN, a world-renowned lab that sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva, and dissected his thesis on graphene (aka graphite), which has been published quite broadly. I lapped up his take on dark matter and TOE (the theory of everything), and proudly shared my understanding of the strong and weak forces as they relate to gravity and electromagnetism. I’m pretty sure anyone in hearing distance of our conversation would have wanted to solidly punch us in the eyeballs for being so weird and utterly nerdy.
I took a nostalgic trip back to my time in Australia, remembering the good times (walking two blocks from my dorm to the ocean, meat pies, wearing a bathing suit to class) and what I’ll call the “not-so-smart times” (jumping off a three-storied building into the ocean at midnight, getting caught in a riptide on a long board, aptly acquiring the nickname “Caption Punchy”). And David was graciously willing to travel back with me. We talked New Zealand, bungee jumping, bottle shops, uni and huntsmen spiders, and I swear if I had a time machine, I would travel back to Fairy Meadow Scary Ghetto and live it all over again in a moment’s notice.
The kid was amazing. Having been in Minneapolis for a mere five months, he had already seen more of the Twin Cities than I had. Target Field? Check. Mall of America? Surely. Walker Art Center, Triple Rock, Lake Calhoun, State Fair, Bar La Grassa? Yeppers. He had even ventured up to Duluth in early fall to surf the record-breaking waves. He was fearless and also kindly willing to participate in my relentless “how Australia is different from the United States and vice versa” game, which I personally found to be entirely entertaining.
And you know what? I wouldn’t, and definitely couldn’t, kiss him if the world depended on it. Great guy, but no great love in our future. And that’s really okay!