JoJo and I met through eHarmony and had been conversing through the site’s email system off and on for weeks. At one point I thought she had found a match as she hadn’t responded. I thought, “there goes another one.” But then she started responding again.
We switched to texting once we were comfortable and after we passed the initial set of icebreaker questions.
We agreed to meet at a local coffee house on one of her days upcoming day off.
Now since her weekends were typically Mondays and Tuesdays and mine are the normal Saturdays and Sundays, it’ll be difficult to actually find time to continue dating. But I decided I would at least meet someone new.
The day we selected was Presidents’ Day…
Luckily the traffic was light as it was a national holiday which meant kids were not in school so most parents took the day off or worked remotely. JoJo is a good hour away by freeway. We agreed initially to meet around 6pm. Unfortunately, Presidents’ Day was a normal work day for me so I was at work. I left earlier than usual so that I could meet her at our agreed time.
I punched in the destination and selected the route that would get me there the quickest. My Apple map app indicated I would arrive later than JoJo and I agreed to. I fired off a quick text to let her know that I’ll be about 15 minutes late.
She texted back, “That’s fine. I’m picking up a friend who’s in town.” I thought to myself, “What? Hmmm, wonder what that means?” My warning flags and spidy senses were awakened.
My arrival time was as indicated by my Apple map app. However I didn’t see any sign of the easily recognizable Starbucks logo. I texted JoJo, “Is the coffee shop inside the mall?” to which she replied, “Yes.” After some back and forth texting I finally found the right entrance. I parked my car and walked in.
I didn’t see JoJo at first as her back was towards the entrance. However I spotted two women sitting opposite the Starbucks facing my direction. “Hmmm, I wonder if this is the friend.” I approached cautiously and called out, “JoJo?” The lady with her back facing me turned and then I recognized from her profile pictures. It was JoJo.
I never had a date bring a friend along. As we exchanged hellos, I thought, “This is definitely strange!” I offered to buy them coffee. It appeared they’ve not ordered from Starbucks before as they didn’t know what they wanted.
So here’s a rhetorical question. If you’re early and your date texted that they’re running late and you have several minutes before his/her arrival, wouldn’t you go to the coffee house and look at the menu? I know I would but maybe that’s just me…
My little voice whispered, “This is really weird!” We ordered and found seating for three and settled in. I wasn’t sure who to address first so winged it and began asking her friend questions. I positioned my chair so that I sat closer to JoJo just to get a read on her reaction.
After conversing with her friend, I refocused my questions and attention to JoJo…
After two hours, I learned JoJo was a mail order bride and was basically her ex husband’s cook and house cleaner for 26 years. I’ve heard stories of this but never met anyone that lived it.
I didn’t dive too deeply but sensed it was a loveless marriage. She was in that stage of where her emotions were surfacing but not strong enough yet to break through the tough protective bubble she built around her.
Not only was it in the tone of her voice, but I could see it in her eyes, her facial expressions, and in her slouched body that she wanted out but that she was also afraid. I could tell she wanted to break out of that shell but lacked either the will or the power. So sad…
I knew JoJo wasn’t someone I would date or build a love relationship with so I moved myself to the friend category and started my “pep talk” of her getting out more and exploring the various things in our wonderful state of Oregon had to offer.
It was now 8:30 and the mall security guard informed us the mall had closed and asked if we could exit.
As I walked to my awaiting car I thought, “What a sad life.” Under my breath I said a little prayer for her full recovery.
Then I headed home…
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