Small Part of Something Big, Part 2 #LoveisBlind
Updated: Apr 21
We woke up to a producer knocking on our door, like we did every morning. All of us showered, dressed, mic'd up, and prepared ourselves for another action-packed day of non-stop dating. This was the new normal.
Normal, except today presented a twist. As we narrowed down our lists of matches, we had fewer and fewer dates for more and more time. In each wave, it went from 15 seven-minute dates to 8 fifteen-minute dates to 6 thirty-minute dates, etc. Through all these rounds, who we were dating was kept private, but on this day, the dates were made public. Now, everyone knew who was dating who, and no one knew what would come next. Inevitably, friends were dating the same love interests.
My first date of the day was Danielle in Pod 1. I was so excited. I had written a poem about time, and I gave her a old-timey, silver pocket watch to go with it. She had something special in store for me too, which I found out as soon as I entered the pod.
The whole room was transformed into a mini-yoga-studio. The lighting was altered with dimmer overheads and some candles. A mat was unrolled in front of the pod graphic with some yoga props like blocks and a strap. She was waiting on the other side, ready to lead me through our first of many yoga flows together. As we moved, stretched, and expanded, we also opened up to each other more. She told me about the tattoo on her back in memory of her childhood best friend. I told her the story of my tattoo of a phoenix over my surgery scar on my shoulder. We shared old stories about growing up in big families and details about our siblings since we both have four of them. I floated out of the pod feeling the best I'd felt since beginning the experiment, and closer than ever to the girl I was falling for... hard.
When I got back to the guys' side of the facility, I had a big smile on my face, but it wouldn't last long.
Everyone was huddled around the kitchen table picking at a delicious-smelling dish of vegan apple crisp. Mark was fist-bumping Rory while Damian was giving one of his famous shoulder massages. In addition to being an amazing yogi, Danielle was also a phenomenal cook. After hearing that Rory's dietary restriction made it hard for him to find food to eat in the facility, she cooked him a full pan of apple crisp as a gift. Instead of hunger, I felt jealousy and fear bubble up in my belly.
I kept my distance and opened my journal to recap the yoga date and think through my feelings about the apple crisp. To me, this was the first challenge regarding what Rory and I had discussed the night before. I had to stay true to my word, and my word was about to tested.
Rory and I were pulled aside to talk about dates being public and both of us having feelings for Danielle. When the interview started, and we were asked about our feelings, I asked for a moment. I went to the kitchen, grabbed the apple crisp, two forks and some napkins. I brought it back to our interview area, and I handed Rory a fork. Then, I answered their question:
"When I learned that this apple crisp was a gift for Rory from Danielle, I was terrified. What could this mean for me? Does she like Rory more than me? Does this change how she feels about me? Me. Me. Me." I took a deep, contemplative breath.
"Then, I realized this apple crisp has nothing to do with me, and it has everything to do with Danielle. It shows how big her heart is. It shows her talent in the kitchen. It shows her kindness and generosity for someone who couldn't eat the same food everyone else was eating. It made me love Danielle a little more, even if the gift wasn't intended for me." Everyone listening looked at me a little more intently.
"I feel the same way about Rory and I both having feelings for Danielle. How couldn't we? She's amazing. We've fallen hard, and I can't blame him any more than I can change how I feel, so we mind as well do our best with this situation. We're friends, and we know that whoever Danielle chooses, she'll be happy, and that's what matters. So, if Danielle chooses Rory, I hope I can be in their lives as a friend. If the opposite happens, I hope the same is true for Rory. Instead of being on 'Team Matt,' or 'Team Rory,' I think we're both on Team Danielle."
Rory reinforced the sentiment and we hugged it out on camera. After the interview, I felt like I was floating again, and I could enjoy the apple crisp and other guys' company in a way that my ego wouldn't let me do before. I felt free from jealousy and attachment.
As the experiment progressed, dates got longer, and late night dates got more intense. Since we were so tired and open and vulnerable, we were digging deeper than ever before into our childhood traumas, past relationships, and what we yearn for our futures to look like. Connections like Cameron and Lauren, Kelly and Kenny, Westley and Lexie, and Carlton and Diamond were becoming more solidified and serious. For the love triangles, conversations were getting more intense as decision time approached. Everyone saw the triangle (or square) play out with Barnett. However, the one no one saw was heating up too, and Rory, Danielle, and I were feeling the pressure.
As proposal day approached, I felt so torn. Do I propose? Is Rory going to? Who would Danielle choose? What if we didn't propose and figured it out without the parameters of the experiment, out in the real world? All of these questions kept plaguing my mind and journal pages.
Finally, the time came. What happened on proposal day was something I never could have expected, and it changed my life forever.
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