Jena Griswold and Mohamed Enab’s love story began with a glitch.
In November 2011, Jena had just moved to the District and was in desperate need of a sofa and loveseat. Haunted by failed attempts at assembling Ikea furniture, she went searching for alternative furniture stores in the Washington area. At first, she was looking to find a Value City Furniture, an East Coast furniture chain, but Google Maps had other plans.
“I searched for something like ‘cheap value furniture’ on my phone because I thought I had seen commercials for it before, and we just went along with what the map told us,” Jena remembers. “It was actually later that we realized we were in a completely different place and the map had led us astray.”
The app took Jena and her shopping buddy to Mohamed’s family-owned furniture store in Maryland, and when they walked in, they found him wrapped up in a coat and half-snoozing in a chair.
“I was half asleep and I was trying to see who this girl was. She looked different, acted different,” says Mohamed, who still runs his family’s store. “She was very polite. Had the most gorgeous eyes that I had ever laid my eyes on. I was like, hey, let me take care of this customer.”
He led her and her friend — whom he thought was her boyfriend — around the store and Jena made her selections, all while thinking Mohamed was someone she wouldn’t mind seeing again. On the phone call to set up her furniture’s delivery the next day, they made their flirtations clear. The two talked for over an hour about where they had grown up — he in Cairo, she in Colorado — and realized the chemistry they had. Mohamed also found out that the person shopping with her wasn’t her boyfriend, so he asked Jena for her number, even though she had given it to him on a form while she was in the store.
“I said, ‘Well, it’s kind of rude to take your number from the order form,’ because I wanted to get her permission and not go through our transaction since this was obviously separate from business. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going behind her back or anything,” Mohamed says.
When it was time to deliver her sofa and loveseat, Mohamed made sure he was the only one venturing out to her Dupont apartment, in hopes of getting to know her better. Jena invited him out with her and her friends, who all hit it off with Mohamed, and after a few dates, he began coming from Maryland every day to see Jena. By New Year’s, they knew they had something special.
“From the very beginning, I was just attracted to how she thinks,” Mohamed says. “We would be talking about a topic and we’d say the same thing at the same time, and then other times she’d surprise me. She kept me on my toes.”
They continued dating through the spring and summer, but in August, their relationship faced the obstacles that come with being long-distance. Jena was going to be in Colorado until the election working for President Obama’s reelection campaign. Their fast-moving relationship had to be put on hold.
However, Mohamed was sure that Jena was the one for him, and he started planning a proposal. He flew out to see Jena and her family in Colorado for a few days. The couple retreated to Strawberry Park in Steamboat Springs, and to a resort with little electricity and just a few tiny cabins. On their last night there, over s’mores, Mohamed dropped to one knee and proposed. After making him redo the proposal because she was too hysterical to hear what he was saying, she said yes. They both reacted with glee and excitement, but Jena also felt a “typical for her” sense of something else — panic.
That’s not to say she wasn’t thrilled about the whole thing — she was — it was just that Jena knew that there were a few major career decisions and transitions in front of her with the election looming, and having to consider someone else’s life along with those decisions was daunting. She soon realized that she really had nothing to worry about.
Mohamed proved to be 100 percent supportive, accepting of both a possible move for Jena’s job after the campaign and a possible pay cut.
“I really wanted to either work for the Colorado delegation out here or move out to Colorado. So, given those circumstances, it was important to me that he was really focused on the positive that comes with that sort of change,” Jena says.
Luckily for both of them, Jena was able to work for Colorado while still living in the District.
“It was like one of her dreams came true, and I would never want to hold her back from that,” Mohamed adds.
Jena now knew for certain that Mohamed could be there for her in every step of her life, their relationship deepened and he made the move into the District that January. The two were engaged for over a year, giving them ample time to enjoy being in the same time zone and to travel to Cairo together to gather supplies and favors for their nuptials, which happened to fall on Mohamed’s 33rd birthday.
On May 24, Jena Griswold, 29, and Mohamed Enab, 33, wed in a traditional Jewish ceremony at the Rocky Mountain Park Inn in Estes Park, Colo. During the Egyptian-themed reception, Jena surprised Mohamed with belly dancers and a Spider-Man birthday cake while their guests danced with brightly colored scarves tied around their waists.
“We sometimes ask each other if we feel different as a married couple and for the most part we don’t, but I still think it does add another level of commitment,” Jena said after the wedding. “I think with every life shift, there’s an opportunity to reassess and, in that, grow stronger.”