OkCupid is an interesting little match making situation. It’s perceived a tad more seriously than Tinder, PlentyoFish, or Bumble because one is prompted to create a bio and add things like: hobbies, 6 things you couldn’t live without and “you should message me if…” It’s not as superficial as Tinder where you simply look at a few photos and swipe, thereby proving your sexual interest or non-verbally telling someone that they’re just not attractive enough for you. Damn. Mad real.
It was on this wondrous OkCupid, roughly three to four years ago when I was messaged by *Miljan, a Serbian athlete playing at the national level and traveling often. When I asked him how he found little known American me, he said he “just typed in girls over 5’9” and I popped up. It was an international match made in heaven. We started talking frequently for the next several years, on a platonic level, about any and everything. Cross cultural communication, if you will. Always in English and even a few times over the actual phone.
We talked about careers, family, and even about his then-new-girlfriend, *Sofija. |Thank you WhatsApp for your services.|
When my plans changed in 2015 and I realized that traveling to the former Yugoslavia would become an actuality, Miljan was the first person I told. We’d spoken about visiting each other’s countries for four years at this point and it was finally becoming real life. Should I have told him at all? I was suddenly slightly nervous…
First things first: 1) Tell Mom about Miljan, since we were rolling to Serbia as a duo and she needs to know! 2) Have Miljan tell his now-fiance about me and how we met. I was not about to have any confusion or misleading information over the fact that we met on the internet and anything could potentially happen. Let’s face it…fact is stranger than fiction. Miljan informed me that Sofija was a little skeptical about the whole situation, but this was understandable and let’s face it….I’d be with my mom sooooo it should all be just fine!
Miljan let us know that he had a friend that oft rented out their apartment on airbnb as well as booking.com in the centre of Belgrade for an extremely reasonable price ($25/n). Apartment was for two, full kitchen, great bathroom, CLEAN, AC, safe location, and very close to the bus. We said, yes please! Mom and I had decided to fly to Belgrade from Sarajevo, Bosnia because it was slightly cheaper and took way less time than a half-day-train+bus annoyance. Again, Miljan & Sofija to the rescue when they went forty minutes out of their way to pick us up from the airport. Now, let’s reiterate the facts:
- I had never met Miljan in real life
- Sofija only knew that some American and their mom were coming into her life temporarily because her fiancé met said American on the inter web (understandable yipes)
- Mom and I would be staying in an apartment of Miljan’s friend, very convenient and unnecessarily awesome
- We would be based in Beograd for five full days including the Orthodox Easter holiday
- Everyone was sufficiently nervous about the woes of being catfished
Miljan is roughly 6’7″ quite husky, and lean; thus he should be easy to spot over everyone else at the airport pick-up area. Once glanced, I tapped Mom and jerked my head in his direction. Sofija was looking absolutely beautiful with her blonde hair in a chignon, red lips and a baggy-pant-Palladium-army-boot-andrognynous-luster, so I approached her first with a smile and a hug. For normal people, this whole situation would be 100% awkward city, yet within about five seconds the four of us LITERALLY (my millenial vocabulary is showing) joined arms and skipped outside to the car. Miljan and I were talking at rapid speed about my trip thus far, why we even went to Kosovo (let’s not forget he’s an ethnic Serbian so people going to Kosovo was a crazy idea), and what we wanted to do that day; their whole day was freed for us to have fun with them. Mom and Sofija were wrapped up in lightning fast English kibitzing like little school girls. It was EVERYTHING! How does this even happen?!
From this day until our last in Serbia, minus Easter, we were with the happy couple being chauffeured all around. Turned out that the “friends'” apartment was actually Sofija’s city residence since she was living with Miljan in the suburb of Novi Sad. The new knowledge that we would be staying in her comfortable and private apartment made everything
moderately more intimate for our little foursome; we were texting constantly. They proudly wanted to take us everywhere and show off their country, giving us all their time and energy. Sofija even finagled one of the best color/cut/blow Mom has ever gotten from a hair dresser (seriously, she was beside herself and it was less than $40USD). They took us to one of the best farm2table experiences we’ve ever had, complete with a full traditional Serbian meal. Then we had an entire day of monastery hopping complete with the arrival of freshly baked goods and teas at Miljan’s summer home…where we met his mom!
Our time in Serbia would have been nothing if not for my favourite husband and wife (they’re now happily married and almost parents…we were invited to the wedding, but we were already back in the USA). Thank you, OkCupid for finding a great match!