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“What is the best date that you have ever been on?”
It’s funny how she asks this. We were seventeen years old, eight o’clock at night, and we were on the phone, talking about going somewhere, anywhere that night. My mind was full of blanks—indecisive with my words. “I want go eat at Johnny’s, maybe Chili’s. What do you want to do?” She deferred to me, but I wanted her to be happy. I wasn’t the one to coax. I was nervous with this matter of where should we go and if she would be truly happy with the location. This was going to be our first date and I teetered with the thoughts of success and failure. She let out deep sighs that seemed to be frustration on her part. Failure seemed more imminent to me and success seemed to be improbable. I sat up on my bed, while my heart growled every millisecond. A slew of the growls led to heat that compressed my body, I was sweating. I was a mime looking at the mirror on my left, my words wouldn’t come out. “I really like her,” I thought, but that wasn’t enough to remove the thought of failure out of my pessimistic mind. “We can go anywhere Bernensky, anywhere,” she said softly. It was thirty minutes before nine and I broke free from my tenseness. I didn’t want to go far, I just wanted to talk to her face-to-face. I just wanted to see her face because I believed that there was something there that connected between the both of us. She was different, and as I put on my tight, grey jacket, I wished more girls like her existed.
It was cold that night, 62 degrees. I entered my car and drove a couple of blocks down to her house near the Toys "R" Us on 167 Street, 6th Avenue. She was out and ready for action, as she took long strides to the car. She entered and we drove through North Miami Beach—our city. We engaged in typical conversation. “How was your day;” blah blah blah. We were on 167 Street, going east. We passed Miami Subs on 6th Avenue, then Publix on 8th Avenue, and finally Popeye's on 10th Avenue. The street merged into 163rd Street, as I continued to go up. I turned left on 15th Avenue, on the right of the Wal-Mart that never seemed to be empty. I drove passed a couple of corner stores, made another left into a narrow path called South Glades Drive, and we were there. I parked and we got out. A soft breeze tickled her, she quivered for a moment. We were in front of Barry Schreiber Promenade Park ready to take on Snake Creek Trail, where people would bike, jog, walk, and hang out. This was what I liked to call "the lake." Other couples were there—this was prime relationship hours. We walked on the human path besides the lake, expressing our feelings for one another. Frogs in the grass and iguanas in the oak trees startled her from time to time, but all was good. She laughed at my jokes and she had jokes as well. She said I sucked at video games, but I’ll admit she was really good. Then, she abruptly stopped. I was a few steps ahead, while she was facing the bridge. She wanted to cross to the other side. She read the name of the bridge that was placed on the side of it—"Columbia Park Pedestrian Bridge." I came closer to her and put my arm around her waist and kissed her on the cheek. She stiffly nudged my face with her hand and began running across the bridge. I didn’t like playing cat and mouse, but for her I did. I chased her effortlessly and when she finally got to the other side, she stopped again, staring at the Columbia Tot Lot, a children’s park. She was searching for something, I could tell. When I arrived next to her, she said she saw something move. I suggested that we go down and head to the car. She looked at the time; it was a couple minutes before ten. We were a bit cautious on this side; there weren’t enough street lights that shined their orange color on us. We strolled through a few shadows and passed a few alleys and every time light appeared, her embrace tightened. Now we were on the street, crossing to the other side, where we would be at square-one again.
We were done walking and we entered the car. We were in the back seats and she wanted us to dig a deeper hole in the conversation. Both windows were open in the front—it was really getting cold. She wanted to talk about defining love, what we love about our families, and how we could be better people. Throughout my life, I never expressed myself to another person when topics like love and family were mentioned, but I felt compelled to do so with her. She initiated the whole conversation by explaining what love meant to her, and how she feels about me. Sex was mentioned and she stated something that made me deeply introspective—it was like a revelation. “Sex is more likely to kill a relationship than help it.” It was funny how sex came up, I was struggling with it like many others, but she wasn’t. I understood her, and believed in what she stood for. Her expressing herself made things easier. I talked about my family and how I wanted to be a role model for my little brother. She believed that I was a good person, but I diverged from her idea of me. For some stupid reason, I told her all of my evil ways. I was so into the conversation that I lost it, expressing every detail of my life. After realizing what I did, I thought she would give me an uncertain look, but she just genuinely smiled. She leaned in and kissed me. “You’re gonna be a great example for your brother.” Time had wings; it was now just past midnight and she had to go. She helped me express myself in a way I thought I couldn’t. I was her counselor and she was mine. That was the foundation of our relationship: dialogue.
I snap out of my reminiscence. “Remember, our first date at the lake?”