Jamie and Barb

The following is the transcript of this episode.:

Jodi: Welcome to the podcast, Jamie. I am so glad you’ve come on the show.

Jamie: I’m really happy to share my story.

Jodi: And I’m very much looking forward to hearing it. You’re on the show to share a story about a date that you went on during the pandemic. Goodness knows, the pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives and has really changed the way we date these days. So I know that you’re going to have an interesting tale to share with me and our listeners. Please share something about your backstory with us.

Jamie: I’m a 57-year-old single, lesbian. I never know whether I should say that I’m divorced or not because I was never legally married, but I was in a long-term relationship and I do have two daughters, 19 years old and 16 years old. I share custody of them. It just sounds odd saying sharing custody of teenagers, but yes, we do that. And we’re very good co-parents and I have gone through long periods where I’ve been single. I have a very fulfilling career and fairly labor intensive job. So I do get sidetracked by work and also spending time with my children.

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Jodi: You mentioned that you split up with an ex-partner. About how long ago did that happen?

Jamie: That was 10 years ago. It kind of happened quickly. I kind of knew it was going to happen, but when it happened, it happened quickly. So I found myself at 47 years old in a place where I didn’t think I would be. I never wanted to be a single parent and I was forced into doing that. And I didn’t think that I would be alone at 47. So it was a real detour in my life.

Jodi: That detour must’ve caused you to really look inward and figure out a lot about yourself at that point in your life, since you hadn’t expected to be in that place in your late 40s.

Jamie: Yeah. And I think that one of the things that I did discover is, first of all, how important my children are to me. We all know that if you have children, you know they’re important, but it kind of put your priorities in order. And for me, it was about building my relationship with them more so than me looking for another relationship for myself. So I invested a lot of time with my children, helping them figure out who they were and in turn that helped me figure out who I was. I really wanted to be at a place where it was okay if I was single. I have to have somebody else in my life again. What I realized is it’s okay to be by myself and it’s important to establish those relationships with my girls.

Jodi: What an important revelation.

Jamie: I will share with you this story. Not that long ago, I said, again, I really wish I had somebody to be with and she just looked at me and she said, “Mom, you have to go on dates first.” That’s what pushed me into the direction I moved into. I was like, “Oh yeah, you’re right.”

Jodi: So your daughter is your dating coach.

Jamie: Yes.

Jodi: You’re probably not alone in that at all.

Jamie: Yeah.

Jodi: A lot of women probably have daughters who are playing that role of dating coach in one way or another. So she told you this. What did you do?

Jamie: I did what I had done sometimes in the past is I became active on Match. I actually bought a subscription instead of being a browser and decided I was going to be very open about who I was on my profile. I shared pictures of things that were important to me, which included my daughters and my work and my dogs. And for me, with my job, I will share what I do is I work for a public radio station and I’ve been doing that for over 30 years, different stations, and it’s very, very important to me. You have to understand what public radio is and what NPR is. And if somebody doesn’t get that, they’re not going to get me. So I feel like I’ve dedicated over 30 years of my life to this and I want to be dating somebody who understands that and appreciates it.

Jodi: We all have our lists and NPR being important to you helps you figure out who we wanted to go out with.

Jamie: That’s one of the things I look for. Actually, some years back, one woman responded and she said, “I listened to NPR and I’m a member of my local station.” And I’m like, “You got two gold stars. I’m definitely contacting you.”

Jodi: Did the two of you go out?

Jamie: Yeah. We went out together for about two years, actually.

Jodi: Oh, wow! Okay. That criteria worked for you.

Jamie: Yes.

Jodi: So that was when you were on Match many years back. Now you’ve come back to Match.com. You said you did this a few months ago. This was during the early days of the pandemic, was it not?

Jamie: Yes, it was. And I’m thinking to myself, “Am I crazy for doing this at this time?” And part of me was like, “It’s not going to hurt to do it. It could be deadly.”

Jodi: Right.

Jamie: But I said, “It’s fine.” But also too it’s almost like a safety net. Because if you don’t want to meet somebody, you can just fall back on the, “Well, we’re in a pandemic and I don’t think I should be meeting new people.” So it kind of was twofold for me. I could dip my toe in the water and I could easily back out if I wanted to.

Jodi: Were you looking for certain things beyond your list such as NPR? Were you looking for things in profiles that disclosed how the other women were feeling about protocols around social distancing and masking and the other things that are underway during the COVID pandemic?

Jamie: Well, first of all, profiles can end up staying up there inactive for years, but still be available. So you may find out things about somebody that maybe it’s no longer true. There was not a lot of reference at that time to the pandemic.

Jodi: Oh, on the profiles?

Jamie: Right.

Jodi: I understand. Well, here it is. You’ve decided to go back on Match. You are looking for profiles and women that interest you and you found one. Tell us a little bit about that, please.

Jamie: Well, she discovered me. In my profile, I mentioned that I enjoy laughing and just how important it is and she made a comment about that and then we started going back and forth. I quoted one of my favorite Charlie Chaplin sayings, which was, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” So she kind of attached herself to that. She already mentioned in her profile that she was listening to NPR. So that was good. Also her political leanings were on the liberal side, which also was good. So we just started kind of texting back and forth through the app. That went on for maybe it was like two weeks.

Jodi: That was a while.

Jamie: Yeah. And she asked if she could call me and she did. And the first time we talked, we talked for about an hour and I discovered things about her I didn’t know that we’re not really present in her profile. So that was good. We are both two good Irish Catholic girls. Well, or maybe we were at some point in our lives. She’s a year older than I am. She grew up in the Boston area. I grew up in the New York City area. So we both came from cities. We talked about our parents a bit and we both discovered our fathers are very much alike or were very much alike, which was very interesting. Put it this way, we first contacted to each other in June and it was six weeks later is when we actually met each other in person.

Jodi: Okay. So in between, during those weeks, beyond being on the phone, did you do any virtual conversing over FaceTime or Skype?

Jamie: No virtual conversing. I mean, I do enough Zooming for work. So it was kind of zoomed out. So weirdly it was just all talking on the phone or texting.

Jodi: I see. And what is the name of this woman who you met on Match?

Jamie: It’s Barb.

Jodi: Was Barb the first woman that you connected with during this return to Match?

Jamie: There was like one or two, but the conversation didn’t seem to go anywhere. So to actually have somebody who kind of engaged in conversation and you could tell she actually read my profile to pick up on certain things to question me about. So that was, to me, that she showed an interest, which was great. And then vice versa, I was showing an interest in things about her as well.

Jodi: And you had already determined that you had quite a few things in common from your background to your passions and your interests. So that is a great starting point. How did the meeting in person planning come about?

Jamie: When it got to the point where it’s like, “Let’s meet in person,” it was like, “But we are in the middle of a pandemic.” So we have to be careful and really be conscientious about what we’re doing. What I had suggested is that we go to that was not far from where I live, an outdoor venue that had concerts, and not very big, concerts and dining. And I’m like, “You want to do this?” Because I figured, “Well, it’s outdoors and it’s not going to be too crowded.” So she agreed. That’s where we met is we met at this outdoor venue.

Jodi: Did the two of you wear masks when you first met?

Jamie: Yes. Initially, yes.

Jodi: Okay. So let’s talk about that. So did you suggest the masks? Did she suggest the mask? Was it just understood?

Jamie: Well, it was understood. What happened is she got there before I did and I saw her. She was at like this high top table and it’s very funny because the both of us are very short. So to see us having a jump up to get into the seat at the high top table, but from a distance I saw her and I felt like I knew her because we had spent so much time getting to know each other prior to seeing each other in person.

Jodi: Fabulous. Now I’ve got to ask. You saw her, you felt like you knew her, but did you see her the first time with a mask on?

Jamie: Yes.

Jodi: So even with a shield essentially, covering her nose and mouth, you recognized her and you felt like you knew her.

Jamie: Now once I hopped up to the seat.

Jodi: They didn’t have a booster there for you. Do they?

Jamie: No. It’s quite embarrassing. But we started talking. We had the masks on and we just took them off because it’s like you can’t really converse. Now we weren’t up in each other’s face, but there was a little bit of distance between us, but I find it very difficult and it could be because of years of my job and working with headphones on. Especially if I’m outdoors and there’s a concert, it’s very hard for me to hear. So it’s much more helpful when someone doesn’t have their mouth covered. That was part of it too. The other thing is I think we just wanted to see each other.

Jodi: Well, that makes sense. It makes sense that after being behind a phone with the two of you together, you wanted to be as present as possible, but it came with a risk, right? Taking those masks off presented a risk.

Jamie: Yes. The thing is, too, we had talked prior about the pandemic and things, and at that time, my youngest daughter was living with me full time. Also, I am still very close with my ex mother-in-law who’s in her late 70s. I mean, there are people in my life that I care about that I want to make sure are protected. So we had conversations about that. She also reassured me that she did keep her mask on. She owns her own business and she deals with clients, but she does keep her mask on when she’s dealing with people. So making sure that her circle and my circle were both small to begin with.

Jodi: That makes sense. But you took a leap of faith in her and she took a leap of faith as well when it came to you, which felt right to you.

Jamie: Yes, it is, is a leap of faith and it’s a chance, but I felt like she’s a smart woman. I’m relatively smart. We’re doing the right things to make sure that I’m not exposing myself or others outside of my bubble. It’s just very interesting because I have a friend who is also using Match.

I think the reason that I felt like it was okay for me to go on a date was because she had met up with some guy for coffee. I was like, “Well, if you’re doing it, then I’m doing it.” So it was like that type of thing. And she’s much more freaked out about the pandemic than I am. So it was like, “Okay, I think I can do this.” I decided to get her blessing before I actually went on the date.

Jodi: Tell me, when Barb took her mask off, how did you feel? What was your reaction to seeing her fully in person?

Jamie: Well, first of all, she has these incredible blue eyes. I think I was just so drawn to her eyes that taking off the mask I was still focused on her eyes, but also there was this warmth and there was this familiarity as well. I think, again, all of that had to do with the fact that we spent six weeks getting to know each other before jumping into going on a date.

Jodi: It’s a long time.

Jamie: It’s a very long time and it’s something that you wouldn’t normally do. You maybe send a couple of texts to somebody and then it’s like, “Hey, let’s meet for coffee.” So this was much more measured.

Jodi: Take us through the rest of the date. The two of you pull off your masks and then what happened next?

Jamie: I mean, there was a lot of talking, a lot of chatting as the venue was starting to close up and it’s in an old brownfield that housed the steel plant and now it’s kind of an arts campus. I said, “Are you ready to leave?” And she’s like, “No, I don’t want to leave this.” I said, “No, no, no, no. I mean, leave this table and we can walk over around.” So we just walked around the campus for a while. When we wrapped up, I walked her to her car.

Jodi: I must ask. Do the two of you kiss goodbye?

Jamie: No, we did not kiss, but she like extended her arms to give me a hug, which I did give her a hug.

Jodi: Fabulous. As you left, went back home, how were you feeling about that your first pandemic first date?

Jamie: I felt good. I felt positive. I smiled when I was walking away. So that was a good thing. I just started to think about when we could see each other again. I was trying to figure that out and how do you do that in a way, again, that is safe.

Jodi: Well, I then absolutely need to ask you, what happened next with the two of you? Please take us through the rest of the story.

Jamie: Again, we continue to talk and text. Also, mind you, she lives about 50 miles from where I live. So there’s a quite a distance. What I suggested that we do is like, “Let’s meet in the middle.” I found this little vegetarian takeout restaurant and we met there. And then I said, “I found a park as well,” and we took our food and we went to this park and I laid out a blanket and we had a little dinner picnic.

Jodi: Lovely. That’s so lovely.

Jamie: It was very nice. And again, we’re sitting next to each other, but there was no touching. There was a hug good night, but that was it because it’s just scary and you want to be sure and you want to make sure that that person understands that you are a little bit wary about jumping in and being physical.

What’s really, really odd is you can be so intimate with somebody in terms of exposing who you are to them and not be intimate, not be physically intimate. That’s kind of weird because of the time that we’re living in. So then after the outdoor picnic, we went out and we did an outdoor flea market. After we were done with that, we were just sitting in the car, talking and realizing how much we’ve really gotten to know each other and how intimate we have been about ourselves with each other, but not yet been physically intimate. That was the reality of the pandemic and we addressed that.

Jodi: It’s such an odd dynamic that people are getting to know each other so well verbally and yet not getting to know each other physically often as early as they did before the pandemic and that was the case with you and Barb.

Jamie: Yeah. And the thing is, too, what was interesting is that we were very open and upfront and talked about it as well. So we weren’t ignoring kind of the direction that we were moving in, but also both, again, trying to be really conscientious about how we were approaching it. You get to a point where it’s like, “How much longer do I want to do this? And do I want to make a change? Do I want to take that risk even further?” Which I did.

Jodi: That means that your relationship is moving forward on a great path.

Jamie: Yes. What happened is probably after that talk that we had, after our flea market adventure, maybe it was like a week or so later, my daughter was not going to be at my house on a certain night and I called her up and I’m like, “Do you want to come over and get some dinner and watch a movie?” I knew by me asking that, I knew what inevitably was going to happen and I think she did as well.

But I think what we spend so much time talking about it, making sure that in our lives, outside of the time that we spent outside of each other, we were wearing mask. We were washing our hands. We made sure that we didn’t encounter too many people. So we were taking the right steps that we decided to, I guess, extend our bubble to include each other.

Jodi: Oh! What’s happening with the two of you today?

Jamie: Things are really good. It’s not like we see each other every day, which is fine actually. I prefer to be able to have my full life and my job and my children and she has her job and her friends, but we’re moving in the right direction and we’re planning to go away together in a couple of weeks. So we’re doing what non-pandemic couples do and hoping for the best.

Jodi: Congratulations. I am so happy for you and I’m so happy for Barb. I’m curious. What advice you have for women who are dating during this precarious time?

Jamie: Look at it as a gift because you will spend much more time getting to know somebody instead of just jumping into a relationship with them because you’re forced to do so. So it is a gift. You really will get to know if this is something that you want to pursue.

Jodi: That’s an incredibly positive way to look at a time that for so many people is far from positive. So thank you for sharing that perspective. Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for being my guest on this episode.

Jamie: Thank you, Jodi.

Photo by Donatella D’Anniballe on Unsplash.

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