Photo credit: Action Creation Studios
Welcome to Part 4 of the Unexpected series, which is all about how I met this young man named Sayo last year. If you need to, you can catch up on:
I apologize for the longer-than-usual delay to share this post—you’re so kind to stick with me! In response to a comment and question that I’ve received:
- I’ve been ruthlessly cutting a good ⅓ to ½ out of each blog post because I know they’re long and people don’t read anymore, they skim, but I heard that some find the posts go by quickly so I will try not to cut as much out this time. If you find this longer post mind-numbingly dull, let me know!
- When will this series end? It should be over before the year ends—hah! Let’s just say that I know what the next three posts will be about.
So! When I last wrote, my mom, Sayo and I had arrived in Lagos—his coming to Lagos definitely helped my decision to give long-distance a try…again.
Sayo wasn’t my only prospective suitor!
Ten to fifteen years ago (has it really been that long?), on any given Friday or Saturday night (or both), you’d find me dancing up a storm with my friends in a club. I also went to the occasional singles’ event (those targeted at Christians and not), and I had friends who hosted parties; what I’m saying is I interacted with humans of the male variety on a regular-ish basis and was kind of social but those interactions never amounted to much. No guy would ask me or my friend for my number, no guy would stalk the clubs, hoping to catch me at the same club the next weekend and finally work up the nerve to ask me to dance—these things would only happen to my friends. I thank God that I genuinely enjoyed dancing sooo much and that I can chat up a storm, otherwise my memories of my twenties and early thirties would have been quite sad. Of course, I did have those moments of “Why can’t I get any love!?” and “I hate men!” but overall, I enjoyed those years.
I had noticed a peculiar thing during my trips to Nigeria. The Jummy who was not a hot commodity in Canada would get a smattering of appreciation in Nigeria. Let’s not debate whether this attention was due to my devastating good looks and sparkling wit and charm (because it was, naturally!!) or my “she’s from abroad” status; all I know is that if Nigeria were geographically closer to Canada, I would have escaped there every other weekend when I was in my twenties so that I could experience what it must feel like to be a desirable woman—I would have used those opportunities to boost my self-confidence when I was feeling like chopped liver. Last year’s trip was great from the point of view of ego boosting as I had t-h-r-e-e different guys, one of whom was Sayo, who let me know that I was kind of cool.
(I totally threw that last paragraph in to stroke my ego and to let you know that Sayo may have found me more attractive because he met two other guys who seemed to think I was awesome!)
Ok, so normally we don’t spend much time in Lagos but this time, before coming to Nigeria, I had negotiated with my mom to have an extra day in Lagos because I wanted to meet some longtime friends (who I met through this blog) in person. I had solid plans with two blog friends and I was also going to meet a guy who I had told some months back that I didn’t see a relationship happening between us. We had remained friendly despite me telling him that, and we had a mutual friend so I thought it would be rude to come to Lagos and not tell him. It was the tiniest bit awkward explaining to Sayo why I was meeting this guy, especially because I had shared our history with Sayo.
Our day in Lagos
Lagos completely intimidates me—I use a GPS to get around the city I’ve lived in for 26 years so obviously navigating around Lagos is out of the question. Thankfully Tolu, the first person I was going to meet that day, arranged for an Uber to pick me up. I asked Sayo to come with me because I didn’t want to get lost. We had a great time with Tolu and her kids and I managed to sneak a few details to Tolu about Sayo. I kept it simple: I told her we had recently met and we were going to see where things went.
When we got back to our hosts’ home, their cook had arrived with her baby. While her daughter slept on a couch across from Sayo and I, the cook got busy in the kitchen and Sayo and I chatted. One thing that absolutely made me think “Hmm, this guy would make an amazing father” is the fact that while we were talking his eyes would drift to the sleeping baby whenever she would stir. At one point he went to adjust her because he thought her stirring was due to her not being comfortable. I’m not going to lie, that earned him major points—I knew he was a caring guy but the way he was so attuned to this child we had just met, you’d think he was her dad.
The baby eventually woke up and we played with her and my mom snapped some pictures of us. Confession: I had the briefest girl-who-grew-up-reading-romance-novels deja vu of this being the future and grandma snapping a picture of us with our child, but I did not tell my mom or Sayo this!
Not long after that, Toyin showed up and I got to meet my second lovely blog friend. Then my erstwhile beau (the guy who I had told that I didn’t see a relationship with) arrived and we had a nice visit too. He was a good guy and I was glad that I met him. Sayo and my mom went for a walk during most of his visit.
Serious talk time
The time that we had together in Lagos ended up being very important for the relationship: we had more alone time than ever (the only family around was my mom, and she spent most of her time with our lovely hosts who were deliberate about giving us privacy, likely because they had gone through something similar when my sister and her husband were courting!). After my guests left, I learned that my mom and Sayo had had some serious discussions during their walk. My mom is the best mama bear and among other things, she wanted to make sure that Sayo was serious about the relationship and wasn’t trying to waste my time or my family’s time (I learned all this after the fact, of course.)
At some point during their walk, my mom asked Sayo about how he felt about me, in particular how he felt about my physical appearance. I don’t want to shock you but the only way I can call myself a size zero if I say I’m a size two-zero (20)! In the past I talked a lot about my belief that my size was a big reason (pun intended!) that I was single; for a couple of years now losing weight to get a man has been the last thing on my mind. I don’t have a problem if a guy thinks I’m too fat for him; I just don’t want him to waste my time, nor do I want him to grin and bear my weight, secretly praying that he’ll whip me into shape after dating for a while or after marriage. Instead, I expect my man to love my body as-is, so that if I suddenly get super toned and svelte, he’ll just love me more…unless he’s a chubby chaser in which case, ew.
Anyway, the point: neither my mom nor I wanted a man who was trying to waste my time. Sayo’s response was priceless—it makes me simultaneously laugh and say Aww when I think of it: apparently after my mom asked her question, he stopped beside an SUV and told my mom something along the lines of “Even if she was the size of this vehicle I’d still love her.”
First of all, I have to laugh because ok, I’m big, but come on, couldn’t he have stopped beside a two-door Honda Civic hatchback instead? Lol! But aww, his point though was well taken: his feelings for me go beyond my physical appearance but he also likes my appearance. Thankfully he had backed that up with the way he had looked at me and treated me all along; I always felt cherished and cared for by him.
The three of us also talked about the future. Holding hands and cuddling is the easy part, and I kept telling them that. As I mentioned in Part 1, Physical Touch was my top Love Language so being coupley and lovey-dovey is easy. Letting yourself get carried away with your feelings in the moment is the default that I fight against. Enduring a long-distance relationship and its many misunderstandings and frustrations is hard—been there, done that. But man, Sayo can be endearing when he’s being earnest and he had both my mom and me in tears (we’re the emotional ones of the family) as he talked plainly and sincerely about his plans for our future. Then, because we were crying, he went to get us some tissue to wipe our eyes. And then he actually wiped our eyes and hugged us both—I mean come on!
After that, my mom went to join our hosts and Sayo and I had some alone time that evening; he talked about how he would feel after saying goodbye to me at the airport and I couldn’t really imagine a tearful goodbye. I liked him but I was still so sure that all of this could fizzle in a few weeks or months, despite his good intentions and earnestness. There was that part of me that was saying “Sure Jummy, get emotional and cuddle, and revel in the sweet words, but don’t completely lose yourself.” I had been through a version of this before, and although Sayo had put more action behind his words than I was used to seeing, I’m not that naive girl anymore who believes things will just work out. But I had to fight to protect myself from the part that was ready to believe this could be it. For me, a sign of this struggle between what my spirit may have known and what my practical self was confused by was the fact that I asked him a couple of times “Are you my husband!?” I had never asked anyone that kind of question before, talk less someone I had known for a few weeks. But still I was skeptical.
I wanted pictures to remember the visit
I mentioned in Part 3 that I’m cutthroat when things end: I delete everything related to a relationship, including text messages and pictures. So early on I was thinking that if I don’t take too many pictures of Sayo and me then there will be fewer things to delete should things end. We had one “picture” that was a video that I recorded accidentally before taking the actual picture and a couple of blurry selfies but that was it.
By the time we got to Lagos I wanted us to have more pictures to remember our time together, so I snapped a couple of pictures of him at Tolu’s house, as I mentioned my mom snapped a couple of us with the cook’s baby, and we snapped more selfies.
Time to say goodbye
Our last day in Lagos was kind of bittersweet as you’d expect. My mom and I packed our luggage and Sayo and I had time to talk. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I know he tried to reassure me that all would be well, that he would keep in touch regularly, and that our relationship wouldn’t end like my previous one. Then it was off to the airport.
The Lagos airport is a national treasure (#sarcasm), between people stylishly asking you to pay them a bribe for doing their job, the lack of air conditioning while the temperature outside is well in the thirties Celsius, and oh yes: the general chaos. Our luggage was overweight (of course) so AS USUAL, we ended up opening our luggage and trying to lighten our load at the last minute, in the middle of the airport, with hundreds of other packrats. Guess who got to take all our extra belongings back to Ondo state?
The manual process of checking in our luggage took plenty of time; this is something that’s straightforward in any other airport. I kept looking back at Sayo to make sure he was ok as he was bogged down with his overnight bag, our carryon luggage and our bags of extra stuff. He was patiently bearing it all though I did get to see a side of him that I hadn’t seen before when he was talking to some guy who was throwing around the fact that he had the “power” to delay our check-in process.
Finally, we had checked in our luggage. We still had a couple of hours before the plane would take off so I thought we’d find a quiet place to sit and I’d probably have that emotional goodbye I didn’t think I would have. But within minutes we had reached the point of no return (for Sayo) and we couldn’t take the risk of another long lineup holding us up. Soon Sayo and I were saying our goodbyes, with my mom snapping a few pictures. Instead of the hour I thought we’d have to hang out, we had maybe five minutes.
And just like that, we were officially in a long-distance relationship.