After realizing that he was in love with me, I tried to convince myself that I didn’t feel the same. At first it was easy; I just began to distance myself from him. No more hanging around campus after class or meeting up for tea after school. I went straight home after school always with the excuse that I had things to do at home. I thought the longer I distanced myself the more he would stop feeling this way about me. But, I missed him. We had so much fun together. We laughed, we talked about things I never discussed with anyone…things like theories, making bets with God, playing games with people, but never about religion.
A week went by and finals were approaching, I texted him and said I needed to talk to him. I know I struck panic in him. After our final exam, We walked to a near by restaurant. I sat across from him, stared him in the eyes and didn’t say a word. He nudged me, “Say it.” So I did, I said, “Listen, I don’t think we’re on the same page here. I know you like me but I think I should give it another try with my fiancé.” I couldn’t come to the point, I couldn’t say the truth. I couldn’t say, “You’re white and not a Muslim, I can’t be with you.” I was such a coward. He looked at me with a sad smile and said only one thing, “Can I kiss you one last time.” He still remembers the song that was playing when he kissed me that day.
He walked me to the train station and I didn’t even hug him, I shyly waved and walked down the urine smelling steps and disappeared from his view. I sat on the train and the first thing I did was text him, “I adore you.”
I realized that moment that I was very much in love with this man. That I couldn’t walk away. That my heart was heavy with love for him. That climbing a pile of shit to pluck a rose only to realize that I had lost my sense of smell was not how I foresaw my future. That I would love him and be with him until I couldn’t anymore. I decided that I would love him and enjoy every second with him that I could not knowing where that journeys would take me. We still had a few weeks in San Francisco, months in Shanghai and graduation in London to look forward to. Let me be with him until this all has to end.
I write this post as I enjoy a poolside view of La Koutoubia in Marrakech on my honeymoon. It’s all a bit surreal to reflect back on the tumultuous journey that has brought me here to this paradise. I can’t believe that I have fallen in love and married a man with skin the color of this crepe, eyes the color of this pool, and language as foreign as this couscous. How did I get here? I remember the first time I realized he was in love with me. We were standing on top of a hill overlooking the bay bridge, it was his birthday. He was standing behind me with his arms wrapped around my shoulders. He joked and asked what my parents would say if I brought him home to them. I laughed a deep laugh. Deep because it was not even fathomable to me. I told him very directly as I continued to laugh, “No way, my dad would literally kill me, disown me…” He sighed and pretended to let out a small laugh as he said, “Yeah, my brothers pretty racist too especially towards Muslims…he would go crazy.” Silence sunk in as the sun set and the breeze picked up. We started to walk down towards the city and with a solemn voice he said, “I don’t want this to just become a memory.” My heart slowed to a deep drumming beat, my throat dried, I took a deep breath. I thought to myself, “Oh no, he’s in love with me.” I was scared. Scared not because I had just gotten out of a 3 year relationship and 1 year engagement. Scared because I was Muslim and he was not. Scared because he was white. Scared not only because my family would never accept him but also because I didn’t think I would ever accept. How am I now on a honeymoon with this very man? Read my next post to follow the story!
They say the 3rd time is a charm. Well, as I mentioned in my last post, I married my now husband 3 times and each time was a dream come true. I suppose the first time wasn’t a marriage but it felt like one- the marriage of two old souls <3.The first time, was in Yungshuo, China. Sounds crazy, I know. How did it happen? We were both grad students in business school studying International Business. We traveled to China for a semester and during a break from classes in Shanghai, we decided to take a weekend trip outside of the city. We backpacked our way to the top of a tea terrace in Yungshuo where there was a bamboo hotel with all glass walls. It was as beautiful as it sounds. At this point, we were only “dating” for about 6 months. Me, coming from very strict moral beliefs and being raised in a Muslim family, dating was not typical neither was traveling with a guy. Thankfully, my husband was very cautious and respectful of my beliefs. Ironically, after talking until the wee hours of the morning, we came to realize we had the same core values, the same moral understanding, and the same sense of humor. Brilliant! This was the first time we ever discussed marriage seriously. So serious that we found ourselves shopping for two silver wedding bands in the rural village of Yungshuo in order to seal our vow to one day marry each other no matter how difficult our journey may become. We managed to find 2 silver bands in a road side shack-like store. They were sold to us by an elderly Chinese man who smiled like a cheshire cat when we tried to explain to him with exaggerated hand gestures that we wanted to marry each other. We even managed to get the rings engraved with the date, our initials, with my husbands ring reading “Forever” and mine reading “Yours.” Making sure the rings were engraved correctly was a challenge on its own as the rings had to sawed open, hand engraved with a pick, then soldered shut. After watching the rings go through the transformation of a pair of rings to our rings, we looked at each other with a sad smirk as we placed the rings on each others fingers. We knew wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other, we just didn’t know how to make that happen. We knew that were perfect for each other, but we didn’t know how to illustrate that to our families. Being brought up in two different worlds, we had a huge mountain to climb ahead of us. Once our Shangahi semester was over, I would be moving to London to complete the last leg of grad school and he would be staying back in Shanghai to finish off his studies. How were we going to stay together? How would tell our families that we met someone from a different country, with a different language, and a different religious upbringing? Read my next posts to see how we cultivated our relationship from a distance and managed to get our families on board with our choice. :o)