Date night. Hoo boy. Haven’t done one of these in a long while. Wonder how rusty I am. Push back the dread, and try to remember this is supposed to be fun. We are meeting at the local entertainment complex, surrounded by a throwback to the Art Deco curves and plush of old. Deep couches. Low lights. A soft drink each. She’s a fellow non-drinker. I’ll ask her story, find out what differences led to the similar outcome. Found her via a bulletin on the data feed. Or rather, she found me.

I’ve been watching the comm all day, expecting a last-minute cancellation. It hasn’t happened yet, so she’s already above average for the last couple of years. We are playing it casual. I’m not sure if that means I should show up looking casual, or casual-smart. My clothes rail isn’t stacked with options. I’ll likely blast myself under a hot shower, then find the least worn-looking shirt, check that it passes the sniff test, and give it a once-over with the smoothing iron. Old tech, that. Traces back for thousands of years. Heat up metal, press it on clothes. Not much that humanity can do to improve on that. Even the powered versions have been around for over a hundred and fifty years.

I looked that up on the wiki. A global, digital, tool we use with simple ease, yet outstanding proof that humanity can work well together. Collaborating to catalogue our knowledge, expand on each other, and maintain its evolution. All for free. And, in the main, in good faith. It’s easy to underestimate how important that is. Humans from all over the planet can get on well with each other.

So when we don’t, why is it? Is our natural state collaborative and social, or competitive and dominating? My heart says the first. But life tells me that it’s either the second, or that those in the second group are so much better at asserting their world view, that we all suffer the consequences. Suffering for their benefit. Not for mine, anyway; I know that.

I cleaned the hab as best I could last night, given the limited time I had. Didn’t hit the sack until far too late. Until this morning, technically, I suppose. it was gone 0030 by the time I asked the lights to switch off.

Don’t know if she’ll come back to mine. Probably not. But best not to scare her off if she does.

So I took out the trash. I ran the vac and again wished I had one of the newer, robotic, ones. I hid a pile of paperwork that I’ve never gotten around to. Probably need to remember to get to it. It now lurks in the shadows. Silently. Waiting to trip up my life. Hab looks nice right now, or at least as nice as I can get it without more time. But part of me knows that it’s only nice on the surface. Wilfully choose not to follow any analogies, there. The clutter of my life is only barely held back.

At the end of the evening, I dropped back on the couch to unwind for just a few moments. Pulled out an entertainment handset and fired up a game for the first time in weeks, remotely connecting to players around the world, competing on high-speed puzzles. Ninety-nine gamers at a time, shifting and turning shapes in short rounds of frenzied problem-solving. I lost every time, ranking twelfth at my best, but it gave me a chance to stretch the mind and the reflexes. Should do that more often. It was – though not at the time – relaxing.

Time; need more time.

I know I shouldn’t expect much, tonight. I’ve been burned too many times. Too many fakes, flakes and scammers out there. Too many who just aren’t as ready as they say they are to open up to new people. But today, for the hell of it, I’m letting myself feel some hope for once.

It’s time to toss the dice.

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