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It was a Saturday night in early 2018. Meryem Abel was sitting on a couch in Lansing, Michigan, watching Tinder, photo after photo of white boys bending over in the gym or standing on boats with fish. She then found the profile of Amina Tina.

Tinder told Meryem that Amin was less than a mile from her. Meryem is a North African and said she knew right away that Amin’s name was Arabic. She hoped they would be able to connect through a common culture. She held to the right and it was a match.

Meryem and Amin carried messages back and forth for about a week. They talked about work and how they both love to travel. We are half Algerian and Amin is Moroccan, so they also talked about North African dishes and traditions that they both love.

In the end, Meryem asked, “Since you ended up in Lansing, Michigan, is it so weird?”

“What Lansing is, I don’t know that word,” Amin replied.

“What do you mean,‘ What is Lansing? ’” Meryem asked.

“I don’t understand what that word means. What does that mean? “

“Where do you live?” Meryem asked.

“I live in Casablanca,” Amin replied. “Aren’t you?”

At that time Meryem had never been to Morocco. And Amin has never been to the United States. Tinder told them they were less than one mile apart, but the actual distance from Meryem’s house in Lansing to Amin’s house in Casablanca was more than 4,000 miles.

They were both disappointed to be so far apart, but coincidentally Meryem had already booked a trip to North Africa to connect with her heritage. She planned to spend a few months in Casablanca. Meryem even found a place to relax just 20 minutes from the Amin neighborhood, and still before they found themselves on Tinder.

Meryem’s trip was scheduled for seven months after she and Amin first met. Bearing in mind this trip, they decided to continue dating.

“I had other dates and I canceled them,” Meryem said. She even turned off the Tinder app.

Meryem and Amin talked on video almost every day for seven months – helping each other practice Arabic and English, using a lot of Google Translate and often laughing – until it was time for her convention in Morocco. She told Amin that after she arrived, she wanted to go straight to her Airbnb to take a shower and freshen up after an eight-hour flight that she wanted to dress “just like everyone wants to prepare for a first date”.

But Amin had other plans.

“He was very persistent that I will be the one to take you, I’m so glad to see you, I want to be the first person you see,” Meryem said.

When Meryem finally saw Amin smiling all over the pickup area, her worries subsided.

“I kind of forgot about everything that worried me,” she said. “I was still sweating, nervous and crazy, but I didn’t care. And he didn’t care. We were both very happy to see each other. “

Mary and Amin drove to Airbnb and sat down at the kitchen table to talk. Eventually, Amin turned to Mary and offered them something to eat. “I’m not hungry,” Meryem began, then stopped. “God, wait, it’s been five hours!”

By the end of this first meeting Meryem had an assumption – a premonition that grew stronger the more time they spent together – that she wanted to be with Amin for a long time.

The story of Meryem and Amin may seem strange. That they met at all seems so incredible. A match between two people 4,000 miles apart?

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