I met the most interesting man I know in Europe in the least unique of ways: on a dating app while on a layover in a Lisbon airport.
Belmiro connected with me because he has “a soft spot for cute bottoms,” and, apparently, even when surrounded by the scruffed torsos of the Portuguese men that proliferated Lisboa Grindr, I am the cute bottom that caught his attention.
We traveled around the city, and because he had a background in architecture (and an Instagram filled with architectural commentary), I learned everything one ought to know about the clay-red rooftops and the golden gilded cathedrals that make up Lisbon’s hilly skyline.
We eventually said goodbye after a day spent discussing and exploring and eating delicious basil gelato.
What was significant, however, in this meeting is that Julio and I had a significant connection that superseded cultural and linguistic boundaries, and it was only made possible because of a connection made on a dating app.
Our conversation proceeded to our next destination — a small craft beer bar just down a hill from the burger place (was I back in New York or was this really Europe? One thing led to another, which lead to a lovely evening, and next morning, with my new friend Julio.
I went my way to Barcelona and Belmiro went his, to visit family just outside Lisbon.
As soon as I landed in Catalan country, I was immediately caught up with the same magical aura that most adventurers encounter upon entering Catalonia, and, as a result, for that week in Barcelona, Belmiro remained out of mind — out of mind that is until the drizzly, overcast morning that defined my return trip to Lisbon.
I am left wondering if our critiques of dating apps are more so rooted in a nostalgia for something that can never be the same again, and that if perhaps we uprooted ourselves from our nostalgic leanings and instead embraced a more open orientation towards our current situation that perhaps dating apps wouldn’t be so problematic in our eyes.
We awoke in the morning, said goodbye, as he headed to work and I headed to catch my flight home.
In agreement that we needed to stay in touch, we added each other on the variety of social media platforms in hopes of further connections.
But because layovers are only ever temporary our rendezvous in Lisbon would have to wait a full week while I was away in Barcelona.
In fact, it only made sense, it seemed at the time, for me to make plans a week in advance with this sexy Lusophone who had captured my attention on a phone app.
As Monday evening passed by, and I sat in the apartment unsure of myself and my complete lack of of ability to speak anything resembling Portuguese, I shifted through my dating apps looking for a potential other (cute) boy for my time in the city.