“I’m dating this guy.”
Mari and I are sitting downtown in the Garden of Eden at the local cafe. She works two jobs nowadays to pay off debt, her dating life has picked up, and Matt is history.
“What guy?” I smile.
“A police officer. Joshua.” Mari says as she scoops some whipped cream from her Frappacino onto her straw.
“You go from a computer geek to a police officer. Stepping up in the world, I see.” I sip my Ginger-Lemon Green Tea after saying this, watching the Fourth of July crowd stroll through the tents and art displays. The dappled sunlight is less intense today. The breeze is cooler than it’s been in days. A small girl giggles as a boy blows bubbles in her face.
“He’s, um, well, older than I.” Mari’s skin turns slightly pink and she doesn’t meet my gaze.
“How much older?”
“Twenty years older. My Aunt says that’s not a big deal.” Mari meets my eyes and hers look uncertain. “We talk often, and I think, I think I love him.”
“My only concern with that much age difference is lack of generational things in common.” I notice how she looks away again, sucking on her straw and appearing as if she has withdrawn from the world.
“He’s a single father.”
“I also, um, spent the night with him.”
Lead me not into temptation, sweeps through my mind. I take a deep breath, noting the regret. I don’t have to tell her it is wrong. She knows it. “Again?”
“Again.” She nods, and stares at her drink.
A couple of Harley’s roar past and we stop talking to wait for them to let us finish our conversation. I am almost out of tea. They don’t have refills for tea. I like the other coffee shop because you get an entire pot of tea with fresh tea leaves, not the bagged stuff.
“It’s hard. You know?”
I recall those days before I married S.M. Oh, how I struggled to stay pure!
“Yes, I know. We can’t stop trying to honor God with our actions. Sometimes, knowing your weakness, you may have to take steps to avoid certain situations so you don’t give in.”
“It’s when he looks at me and says, ‘Do you have to go?’ that I don’t want to go. Then, I see his son and how he doesn’t have many good role models. What kind of role model am I?” Mari shook her head. “I am no role model. And this blended family thing is more difficult than I first realized. I want a place in Joshua’s life, but all he asks me is, move in with me.”
“Huh?” I tilt my head as I hear her say this.
“Yeah, how romantic. Not ‘will you marry me,’ but, ‘move in with me.'” Mari released a sigh. “What kind of guy does that? I want to marry him.”
I am not sure if Mari wants to marry him, or just wants to be married. “So do you think time will wear him down?”
“I don’t know. He’s kind of weird, too, come to think of it. I showed up at his home and surprised him with a homemade meal. His reaction was unexpected.”
“Uncomfortable. Annoyed.” Mari stirs her drink.
My cell phone vibrates. I always keep it off when I meet friends, or on vibrate so it doesn’t distract me. S.M. was calling. I check the time and realize I am way past my time. “Mari, I’ve got to go.”
Mari smiles at me. “You are a great friend. I’ll see you Sunday?”
“You’ll see me Sunday.” I give her a hug and leave the coffee shop’s patio. Meanwhile, I pray for her as I walk towards my car. From one bad relationship to possibly another.
I am glad we are friends though.