Dearest Rachel –

You’ll recall me mentioning the other day when I was wandering around Basel how you’re never truly lost; that it’s just a matter of not being where you want to be. As a consequence, being ‘found’ isn’t the opposite of being lost; it’s just a matter of someone else realizing where you are.

I suppose such a Humpty Dumpty attitude toward those words kind of messes up the first version of “Amazing Grace,” but I’d like to think that makes some sense upon reflection. Because it turns out there a time when you don’t necessarily want to be found, at least by certain people.

I think you can guess by this lead-in that I’ve been found by somebody I didn’t expect and don’t know if I want them to. Not that I really seem to have any say in the matter at this point.

I’ll be honest, I assumed that when Naruko turned me down for my offer to buy her airline tickets, and instead wanted cash so as to “pay off some locals,” (which I refused to do), her silence thereafter was a case of ‘well, I’m not going to get anything out of this mark.’ All of which seemed to confirm my conclusion about her, and suggest to myself that I had dodged a bullet. Which seemed a pity, as she was such a sweet girl in conversation compared to some of the ‘wall-of-text’ people I’ve dealt with. But I suppose, that’s the mark of a good con.

But of course, I was still receiving messages and updates on my phone from all my apps throughout the course of my quarantine, including the dating app. As the days began to wind down, I saw a message from a girl whose first name seemed familiar. I didn’t automatically think of Naruko, as I had sent and received smiles to several girls by the same name (not ‘Naruko,’ obviously – you have to know by now that I’m using pseudonyms in most cases). But when I called up the app, imagine my shock to see the profile associated with the message I had received.

According to her, she had now lost her phone along with all of her other trials, and couldn’t communicate with me any other way than through the dating app itself. Again, it leaves me questioning her story, as our chat still exists from when it started, so she would have my phone number, since I had given that to her six weeks previously. Is she reaching out on a standard computer, rather than a phone? I can’t tell.

But I let that bit slide, since at the time I wasn’t bothering to scroll through our entire chat. I was still astonished to find out that she was still in Cambodia; still needing to pay off that local (those locals?), and for whatever reason, wanting to get in touch with me again regardless of our past history.

She suggested we chat on Google Hangouts, which I knew nothing about. Although, now that I’ve gotten back home, I realize it’s just some thing that’s attached to my Gmail account… so I think I’ve found her now.

And it’s at this point that I think she may have blundered. Because in Hangouts, she’s listed with her full name, not just her given name. It’s a fairly common sounding name, but with an odd spelling that sticks a ‘y’ in where I’ve never seen it before. So I resolved to Google her full name.

Everybody Googles each other
Everybody does their Facebook research
It’s how we get to know one another
To make sure that we don’t get r*ped

Garfunkle & Oates, “Google,” from Slippery When Moist (2012)

It’s a cute little ditty that addresses an ugly truth (although the verses aren’t quite as ‘cute,’ to be honest). And while I – being male – have little fear of physical attack from a would-be match, there’s always the potential for economic harm on my end, and I want to avoid that as well.

So yes, I Googled her name, and managed to confirm someone with that name and approximately her age living in Lindenhurst. That’s not exactly near to Skokie, but it does suggest she’s a real person.

But the more she seems like a real person, the less her situation seems to jibe with reality. According to her, she’s still stuck in Cambodia, still having to pay off those locals before she can pick up and leave. She sold her watch in order to afford rent on an apartment while she stays there. Wouldn’t it have been better to pay those locals with the proceeds and get back home?

Equally weird is that she’s neither gotten, nor apparently asked for, help from the charity she want over there with. One would think they would be able to assist her in her plight, even if, as she puts it, she ‘wasn’t on assignment at the time of the incident.’ She was over there on assignment, though, wasn’t she? I’m so confused.

And every time I mention it to her, she talks about not wanting to get them involved in the situation. Something just doesn’t add up about it all. Part of me wants to untangle this mess and figure out what’s really going on, but another part is convinced that it would be more trouble than it’s worth, and I’m not likely to get any sensible answers in any event. But I find it difficult to believe that she would make no particular effort to make her way out of a country where she doesn’t speak the language, and there aren’t nearly the preponderance of people that understand or speak English to at least a reasonable extent as there were in my experience. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Granted, I’m applying my own experience and values upon her; clearly, we don’t have those necessarily in common. Which might be another reason to back away. I just don’t know.

As always, honey, wish me luck. I may still need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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