So… Darned… Close

Dearest Rachel –

I’ll give Ruby credit, she’s making the effort to keep in touch with me, contacting me every day while she’s supposedly down in Phoenix with her siblings. She’s also informed me that she’s told her mom (who I guess is down there with her siblings? In which case, shouldn’t she have mentioned that she was going to see her as well?) everything about me, and how she’s going to finally meet me on her way back – whenever that is, and however she plans to do that – maybe I’m expected to pick her up at O’Hare? I mean, I guess I’m okay with that, but it’s a weird idea for a first ‘date’.

I’m not sure how she plans to accomplish this, and I’m not sure whether to look forward to this with enthusiasm or trepidation.

Despite the fact that we still have yet to meet, I’ve mentioned several times how she has asked whether I’ve deleted my account with the dating app. For whatever reason, she seems to think that she has an exclusive claim on me. I’m not really sure why; I’m still of the opinion that both of us should reserve judgment on each other until we’ve met face-to-face. There are still so many things that might pose obstacles toward friendship, let alone any thoughts of romance or (God willing) marital bliss, and she seems to be deliberately (and scrupulously) ignoring those possibilities. To listen to her, I am The One, and she can’t wait for us to be a couple, with all that entails. It’s flattering, to be sure, but it leaves me to wonder what it does entail to her – and how different her ideas of couplehood might be from mine. I can accept that we have varying ideas of what an ideal life together might be like, but the question is how different are they, and how much would each of us need to bend to make it work?

In the meantime, I’ve not deleted my account, in part because I’m not as convinced as Ruby seems to be that I’ve found The One – or if I have, I need a lot more proof of it before I say so. I’ve got benchmarks, both past and present, to compare her to (which could be the subject of a whole other letter some day, possibly quite soon), and there’s a whole lot of ways things might go south.

Not that my presence on the app has resulted in any great flood of potential suitors, to be sure (and yes, I realize this sounds like I’m waiting for the girls to approach me. In fact, I am – I have no desire to be too pushy with anyone, no matter how appealing their profile might be. Come on too strong, and you get left on read, as the saying goes. I generally keep things down to just sending a smile, or – if I’m really curious about someone, a simple ‘Hello there’ text. Just so they know I’m interested. If they respond, great. If not, I’m not going to fuss about losing a huge investment of time and emotional capital on any one person at such an early stage in the game. And yes, it really is a game at this point – I literally cannot distinguish this online interaction with a reasonably sophisticated dating sim. It’s why I insist on withholding judgement until things get to the point of being face-to-face).

Although… last weekend, I started to get a number of responses all at once. Not sure what’s up with that; maybe everyone wants to find someone to call their own before Valentine’s Day? I don’t know. There was one who sent me a smile from suburban Sydney, Australia – although she’d apparently moved from there to Alabama recently (and the phone number she offered me to connect with her on bore that out). Why leave the Australian address on her profile, I asked? Wouldn’t that discourage someone from looking for her? She told me she wanted to prove she was willing to relocate; frankly, I do not understand the logic of any of that.

It’s irrelevant, at this point, as her account has disappeared from the app. Go figure.

But between all the new profiles and faces, there was one that got my attention. Part of it was because it was someone living reasonably nearby, only one town over, in fact. But also partly because I’d sent a smile to her way back when, almost back when I first logged onto the app, got a response a few months later, and then, after replying to her… silence. All of a sudden, however, she not only responded, but responded with an apology: ‘Oh dear, I dropped the ball. I haven’t checked here in a while.’

Now how do you get upset about that?

With that being said, I’m more than happy to chat with her, especially since she’s asking about what church I attend, and mentioning where she goes. Believe it or not, she recognizes ours by description alone (to be sure, a church with multiple locations is a little unusual), and mentions that she has a relative that attends one of the other campuses. Now, that doesn’t guarantee I’d know her, but I ask, just to find out. As it so happens, this relative is not only someone I know, but who attended the same GriefShare group that I did. Suddenly, it seems like such a small world, and I’d like to talk more with this girl.

But that’s when the conversation trailed off. Which is fine; one can’t be expected to hang around with one’s phone on staring at an app 24/7. So, I decided to do a little internet research, specifically about the church she attends. Among other interesting facts about it, they only meet every other Sunday, meaning that she might be willing to attend ours on the alternate weeks (although ironically, both weeks she might be free in February, I’m working the booth. So it goes). They also have house groups that meet on those alternate weeks – and she tells me she does a certain amount of office work for them, so she might have her roots dug into this church, at any rate.

Other stuff about the church, however, did not seem quite as promising. While I noticed another familiar name listed among the deacons, I also saw a few phrases that looked like political buzzwords to me. Maybe I’m too sensitive to that sort of thing, and I’m sure there are places where the church can make an impact in the community, but when ‘justice-oriented’ is part of the main description of who and what you are as a church body, I’m thinking the plot may have been lost along the way. I get the need to feed the hungry and house the homeless, but those are means toward the main goal of reaching souls. I’m worried that, even though this possible relationship seems so darned close, we might well be miles apart in opinion, even while bearing the same denominational label of ‘evangelical.’

Then again, I might be prejudging things; what do I know? Gotta go back to the whole face-to-face meeting to really make sure. And considering the last day or two of silence – not to mention the months in between prior contact – who knows when that might happen. Or how Ruby might react if she found out.

Anyway, wish me luck, honey. I’m gonna 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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