In my eyes, Jojo was a goddess. After a night of crazy drinking, my friend dragged me to a church service. Well, she was slightly more than a friend, but the rules were clear. We were both scratching an itch, and our arrangement would end if either of us started dating seriously. However, feelings don’t follow rules. That was how I found myself in church with my head banging like two angry monkeys. I was a bit confused about my feelings towards ‘my friend’.
Jojo was seated a few rows ahead of me. From my spot, I could only see her gorgeous mane that swayed from side to side and her floral dress. Focusing on her made me forget the loud music, which made my bad hangover infinitely worse. One would ask why I agreed to attend church in the first place, and my answer would be, “Things we do for women.” I may have stared at Jojo too much because I got the bombastic side eye from ‘my friend’ standing next to me. I instantly knew I was in trouble.
After the service, I was curious to see the face of the girl with beautiful hair. She turned and smiled at her friend. Suddenly, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I had attended that service. Jojo was divinely beautiful. She oozed feminine energy; I imagined she smelled like vanilla and lavender. I couldn’t further disrespect the lady I was with by going to talk to Jojo, but I knew I would be back the following Sunday.
On the way from church, ‘my friend’ tried to bring up the topic of me staring at a particular lady, but I shut it down swiftly. The following Sunday, I was fresh and eager to attend the service. Fortunately, ‘my friend’ wasn’t around, so I didn’t anticipate any awkwardness. I approached Jojo after the service, which was when I learnt her name. She was new to that church as she had just moved towns. There was a restaurant near the church, and she agreed to have lunch.
“You have lovely hair,” I told her.
“I got it from my mama,” she responded warmly.
“She must be a beauty too.”
“So, do you go around asking congregants out for lunch?” She teased.
“Just the ones with manes,” I replied.
We both laughed. She was even more beautiful on the inside. Jojo was also focused on her career in finance and had achieved a lot at her age. She checked most of my boxes. I discovered qualities in her that I didn’t even know I wanted in a partner. She insisted on forming a friendship before taking things to the next level. It was convenient because I could officially end things with ‘my friend’ before formally asking Jojo out.
The conversation didn’t go as planned. I explained to her that I was terminating our arrangement.
“There is someone in the picture, isn’t there?” She asked.
“We knew this day would eventually come, but, yes, there is,” I responded.
“Is it the girl from church?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Wow! I knew I saw something. You didn’t even want to go, I had to drag you there and now you want to actually date a girl from there?” She retorted.
“Why are you angry? This was casual,” I said.
“We haven’t been casual in months. Which casual people attend church together or any of the other activities we have done in public?”
“Look, I agree we may have crossed a few lines but that doesn’t change our arrangement,” I said.
She was visibly hurt, and I also knew what she was talking about because I was getting attached. However, what I felt for Jojo was something I had not felt in a long time. I chose Jojo. I asked her to be my girlfriend a few weeks later.
I fell hard and fast for Jojo. Three months into dating her, I told my mom about her in a conversation. My mother was excited. I had never told her about a partner before. It also wasn’t a secret that she was getting worried that I was already in my 30s and didn’t look like I was planning on settling down. She asked me to take her home for lunch. Jojo didn’t object to it.
Just like me, Mom was taken by her beauty. She was extra warm towards her. As we were having lunch, my mother asked her questions about herself. Jojo mostly talked about her work and her ambitions. My mother tried to steer the conversation to personal things, but Jojo was more comfortable speaking about her dreams. I didn’t notice it at the time. We left after a couple of hours.
Jojo and I were inseparable. She loved Excel sheets, and we made plans using sheets to balance our work and personal lives. I hadn’t dated anyone who was that supportive and committed to growth. We helped each other become better in many spheres of life. I was happy for a year; then, she dropped a bomb on me.
“Babe, I need to tell you something,” she said.
“This sounds serious. Go ahead, I’m listening.”
“I applied for a Master’s scholarship at a university in the U.K., and I got accepted,” she said, smiling.
“Congratulations,” I said as a reflex response, but I was actually wondering why she hadn’t told me before applying.
“Yes. This will catapult my career by miles ahead of my peers,” she said excitedly.
It didn’t take long for me to voice my concerns, but she gave excuses for not mentioning it before. I wanted her to seize the opportunity but didn’t want a long-distance relationship. Mostly, I didn’t want to lose her. I talked to my mom about it, and she said she wasn’t surprised. From the lunch, she expected Jojo to put her career first.
“Son, if you want to start a family I would advise you to pick a woman whose goals and timelines align with yours.”
It was difficult to admit that Jojo and I had different priorities. We acted as though the distance between us wouldn’t change our relationship, but we both knew it ended at the airport when she boarded that plane. We tried keeping in touch for a few weeks, but our schedules started getting hectic. It started with missed calls and then messages that took forever to get responses. Eventually, we had a hard conversation where we ended things officially. It broke my heart, yet I knew it was an excellent opportunity for her.
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