My second date with Itai was deliciously comfortable. So much so that the first date seems practically wooden in comparison. We met at 3pm at Yaffo Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. From there, I led the way to a little nook with flower-covered walls in the ruins on the way to the Kotel. On the way, I began a patchwork presentation of my life story. When we got to our destination, I continued talking while drawing a little picnic feastala from my backpack. We munched and chatted until the descending afternoon shadows caused the cold to creep up on us.
After repacking the food, we carried the conversation all the way to Seth's restaurant, since he had invited us to come over while he was still working so that he could treat us to dessert. I quite enjoyed introducing Seth and Itai to each other, letting Itai get a taste of the unique Pearson family dynamic. There was no shortage of interesting facts for us to exchange while we munched on french fries and the crunchy confection Seth sent us. (Pears poached in wine sauce, surrounding a scoop of sorbet, all atop a thick slab of granola cookie, for those of you keeping culinary score at home.) Seth kept dropping in and out until it was time for him to quit for the day, at which point the three of us walked most of the way back to Seth's apartment.
Itai and I took our leave from Seth before he got all the way home, and wended our way to Tmol Shilshom, seeing as we'd both enjoyed the atmosphere so much the last time. Obligatory joshing of me regarding tiramisu overdose ensued, and we shared a chocolate mousse. While we ate and talked and sipped our hot drinks, we were both amused by the boistrous antics of the adorable daughter of the family sitting at the table next to us. She had the most ridiculous eye-glasses: round coke-bottle lenses with gaudy pinkish-greenish plastic frames. It seemed like an appropriate background as Itai and I discussed the possibilities for children of our own, a topic that's obviously a favorite for both of us.
As the clock slid past nine, we gradually left the cafe and headed back to Seth's apartment so that I could pack up for my trip back to Tzfat. But before we did that, we stopped by briefly at Rachel's apartment to say good-bye to her and Seth. Not too long after that, we were on our way, strolling to the bus station where we would each take our separate ways home. My bus wouldn't arrive until at least 11pm, so we lingered happily together at the bus stop in the cool night air, exploring ever more wild and wonderful avenues of conversation. Suddenly, some young men who were also waiting for the bus to Tzfat broke out dancing and singing "Od Yishama." I grabbed Itai's arm and pulled ourselves into the little circle, asking the dancer to my right who was getting married. I wished a mazel tov to the young groom after he was pointed out, and after the singing circle broke up, I did not miss the bemused expression that had overtaken my date's face. I can tell that I'm going to have a lot of fun introducing him to a more intimate look at traditional Orthodox culture than he's been privvy to before. Late though the bus was, we were still reluctant to part. Our farewell took the form of a long, firm, warm hug with kisses on the cheeks. As I gazed at the moonlit landscape outside my bus window, the trees and rocks were filled with an uncanny richness of shape and color.
Now I have to endure a wait until Wednesday night before I get to see Itai again. The plan is that I will go to visit him at his apartment in Tel Aviv, and we'll move on afterward to spend Shabbos together in Tzfat.