When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2020, let’s just say I had a particular idea of how “life-changing” this year would be. I’d found my footing in a new city, I’d found my dream job, and I was finally getting over a pretty traumatic breakup from the fall. To be honest, I was having a whole How Stella Got Her Groove Back moment.
Staying true to the Stella Payne storyline, my self-discovery as a single woman began with the persuasion of my friends. “The guys on Bumble are really hot in Vancouver.” “Trust me, you’ll have an easier time meeting someone online.” “This is how you meet people nowadays.” “So-and-so met on Bumble and they’re so cute.” So yeah, I downloaded Bumble.
Now, I will never lie when it comes to online dating, so I must admit that I’ve seen a lot. I think I deleted the app within the first few days, because it felt like I was on a continuous rollercoaster. I’d say something cute and flirty; he’d respond by being cute or funny; we’d talk about whatever we were watching on Netflix; he’d ask me for my number; I’d give it to him. Within 24 hours, though, I would either have to make up an excuse as to why I couldn’t meet because I wasn’t feeling it, or I’d politely decline his unsolicited dick pic, or he’d give me Donald Trump supporter vibes. I am sure most of the guys were fine, but I could tell that this wasn’t my Stella moment to find love and balance in my life. Nothing seemed to click.
Fast-forward to March. I am out for lunch with a girlfriend—and by lunch, I mean we share a bottle of wine, and she ends up spilling her wine on this lovely couple behind us and paying their bill as an apology. That kind of lunch. Her kind gesture towards this couple inspired me to give Bumble another chance. I too deserved to have wine spilled on me by a trendy millennial while on a date with my partner. Now, I don’t know if the Bumble Gods heard me or not, but the second time around, I matched with some phenomenal specimens. Yes, they were cute, but more than that, I was in conversations that I wanted to be in. Things were clicking.
I came down with a cold and had to push a few dates back to the week of March 16; that timeframe is important, because that’s when our world shut down. There I was, ready to meet for a drink and hope my matches added up in-person, and COVID-19 was having none of it. And I was not going to be the one to break the rules of social distancing—not even for a potential Taye Diggs encounter.
Without the in-person connection, how can you tell if you vibe with someone? Without the physical connection, was I wasting my time chatting it up with the few guys I had on the go during the beginning of the pandemic? Little did I know that because of these restrictions, I was about to learn so much about myself and what I needed in a partner.
Right off the bat, I cut ties with one suitor because of his stance (or lack thereof) on COVID-19. Having someone ask me to hang out and disregard the current health and safety guidelines was a new red flag that I wasn’t going to ignore. The other guys, however, were more up to speed on what it meant to be a good citizen. I’ll use celebrity names instead of their actual names.
Enter suitor number one: Leonardo DiCaprio. He was all about the environment, meditated every day, and loved his friends and family. I liked that about him. I mentioned to him that I couldn’t remember the last time I was given flowers, and he surprised me with a bouquet delivery the next day. He was thoughtful, caring, and the first guy to listen to me in a long time. We talked about everything: why he had to take time off work to focus on his mental health; how I get anxious and nervous being alone in times like these. And never once did he make me feel like I was overreacting about the current global situation. He just listened. At one point, I even merged him into a WhatsApp video call with my mom so she could see and hear just how sweet he truly was. Still, Leo only lasted for about three weeks. As great as he was, I knew I was only ever going to see him as a friend. A FaceTime breakup is never ideal, but a girl has only so many options in a pandemic; and although his quick unfollow of me on Instagram made it clear that a friendship might be off the table, he was my rock for those first few weeks. I can never thank him enough for that.
Enter suitor number two: DJ Jazzy Jeff. I know it might seem weird to call him this because my name is Jasmyn, but trust me, he fits the part. DJ JJ was the pick-me-up we all deserve. He was the guy who I’d FaceTime and cook a meal with while blasting the Fugees; he was also the type who I would send scandalous photos to (in response to a video he sent me of him cooking breakfast in his underwear). He was spontaneous, fun, and kept me “satisfied” during quarantine.
Enter suitor number three: Prince Harry. Prince H came into my life at the end of quarantine. He was the guy I spent all night talking about Michael Jordan’s Last Dance documentary series with, and was also the first person I went on a socially distanced walk with (when it was safe in British Columbia to do so). This one was special, and although it stemmed from us poking fun at the fact that we were Meghan Markle and Prince Harry wannabes, it clicked for me. Life was fun in quarantine. I was dating, some would say I was thriving, and I was also getting used to this whole pandemic thing.
Flash-forward to the end of May. Now, if you haven’t noticed from the perfected selfie, I’m a Black woman. I grew up in a small suburb outside of Edmonton, Alberta and yes, I have dealt with my fair share of racism. But I had mostly swallowed the trauma that stemmed from being different and from growing up in a predominantly white community. When the protests for Black Lives Matter erupted after the killing of George Floyd, though, things began to surface.
I had flashbacks to when my high school teacher told me I didn’t have to come to class when we were reading To Kill A Mockingbird aloud because the N-word was being said every other page; I just pretended like I was fine and listened to this word being thrown around like it was nothing. I recalled moments of being accused of things I never did. I remembered times that I had suppressed and never wanted to relive. I’ll never be able to properly explain how all of this felt, but I can tell you that having my non-Black friends, co-workers, and family “check in” was extremely emotionally exhausting.
I was and still am scared for the future. I have never felt more insecure in my life, and although the smiles that I get while walking on the street now are a nice gesture, I can’t help but think that I’m alone again, facing the immense hate that my ancestors and family fought so hard to overcome.
That’s when my full circle-moment happened. These Bumble suitors I met throughout the COVID-19 pandemic were my friends now; I had a whole new support system (I’ve only named three, but there were a few others who probably would’ve received a rose on episode one). Whether it was a text from the DJ, or Prince Harry meeting me at a protest with a sign saying “Her Life Matters” with an arrow pointing to me (swoon), dating throughout this pandemic has brought me more support than I could’ve ever imagined.
The world seems like a scary place right now. So yeah, when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2020, I had a completely different idea of how “life-changing” this year would be. But I’ve faced my fears, I’ve broken down my walls, and I’ve fallen in love with parts of myself that I never appreciated before. Does that mean Jas did in fact get her groove back? I think so.