As salaam alaikum,
So, I haven't been posting nearly as much as I usually do, yeah? Well...kind of. I last posted on Sunday, and now it's...Friday? Okay, yeah, it's been a while.
It's not because my course load is picking up (we're near the end of our quarter, so finals are next week). I always find time to write. It's not because my roommate and I have been watching Mad Men back to back. It's not because I apparently have broken out into hives because of an unknown allergic reaction and have been prescribed allergy medication that makes me sleepier at night.
No. It's because I have spent up to 4 hours nightly texting B.
Yes, the answer is B. Haha, it sounds like a multiple choice test now. The answer is B.
Even though, as far as seeing someone goes, it's still pretty early, we've seen each other exclusively only three times, twice if you don't count the Nigerian Conference...I've had intuition about this for some time. Even before he declared hurriedly, "We should hang out," I had this feeling back in May that we would have some sort of story together, more specifically, that I'd end up with him... And I still have that feeling.
I mean, I've had prospects before, but I'm usually the party that cuts things off because I chicken out or things don't fit...but everything's fitting, and I'm not the limiting factor for a change, and he seems content, so...
I'm currently in a relationship, and I feel like, shit, man, when did this happen?!
I mean, it's not on the level in which I'll go in and change my facebook relationship status. Even though I feel like that's the direction we're going, it's premature. What's the threshold for changing the facebook status? Engagement.
Catch everyone by surprise. No one has to know my business until things are official, and things aren't official in my book until there's at least a promise to marriage. Putting "in a relationship" on facebook (or, since my facebook is in Portuguese, em uma relação seria) draws unnecessary attention by unnecessary people who will say tactless things.
But yes, in a relationship. Now. Me. I would say I am surprised, but the reality is, I'm not. It did come from a direction I didn't completely expect, but as it played out, it was totally predictable...but there is an unexpected element.
Because, you see, we all have our du'as during Ramadan, right, and we have more faith than usual that these prayers will be answered, thus facilitating our realizing the answers to these prayers, right? Okay. So this was one of my Ramadan prayers. I remember on the final day of Ramadan, running home while my classmates went to a happy hour at a local bar, sitting alone in my room and just consolidating everything that I'd prayed for during Ramadan into one, fluid du'a.
And everything is coming to pass in an amazing way, alhamdulillah.
Another one of my big du'as concerned my brother and his opportunities at life. Alhamdulillah that one is also being answered right now, in my face, in multiple steps...
But yes, relationship. How do I define relationship?
A relationship is defined by when I put tags on things and call them "relationships." I have a relationship with my parents, a relationship with my roommates, my extended family and my friends. I have a relationship with B right now. That's about as much as I can call it.
It's not exactly a friendship, because I do things with him that I don't do with friends...and don't get it twisted, oh my Muslim friends out there! I'm not talking about anything of a sexual nature, just really quickly in the way we associate with each other, the things we share with each other and the way that we carry ourselves around each other, it's different than anything I've ever done with any male person of any religious affiliation.
So, it's not a friendship, really...not the same type of friendship, anyway. And it's not, like, boyfriend and girlfriend. Like, in Portuguese, I wouldn't yet say that we were namorando. What's the threshold for that? Physical contact...haha, it may be my language bias, but when I hear namorar in Portuguese, I translate that roughly to making out, haha, so to have a namorado feels like...one that you make out with.
Spanish is different, because novio is the same word for boyfriend and fiance, so relationships in Spanish feel more formal and the engagements less so, than in Portuguese where you have a difference between namorado and noivo.
Anyway, I'll step away from language for a second.
So I'm in a relationship, but I wouldn't call him my boyfriend yet. ...I'm not sure if I'd call him my boyfriend, ever. If he wanted to call me his girlfriend at a certain point, fine...partner? Nah...for me, partner has a connotation of common law marriage...it sounds like someone I'm living with. I would only want to use that for husband, and then I'd say...my husband. Husband, fiance, yes...boyfriend, no. This is a grown man!
What will I call him, then? B...my...not friend, because then he's like, whoa, am I just a friend to you? Umm...hahaha, my SO, B. Hahaha, luckily for him, his name is not actually B, so I'm not introducing my son of a bitch...
I think when the time comes, I'll call him my SO. People will get confused, and that's fine.
So, what's it like, this burgeoning relationship thing? Hmm...thought provoking but probably the easiest and most sensible innovation in my life so far. That's because it's early. It's also very distracting.
I was sitting in class today, discussing occupational hazards for women in the workplace, the paucity of research and what should be done, and I was thinking about us, and how this is a relationship, and how this is pretty much the only word I'm comfortable using for this kind of thing, not only as a Muslimah, but as me, Chinyere.
How do I feel about it? Well, when I breathe shallowly, it's all real, I don't doubt it. When I breathe deeply, all of my fears about being single return.
I breathed deeply during class while we were discussing the risks of motherhood, and I remembered suddenly the pang I used to feel semi-regularly during PMS of wanting to be a mother and the fear that maybe I'd always be single and maybe I wouldn't have the chance to have a child of my own and raise a child with someone else. It's not for Jannah being at the feet of mothers, but wanting to assume this challenge that so many women before me had, even the most beloved, my mother and grandmothers.
But then I breathed shallowly again and I remembered, wait...I'm with B now. Although I don't have it in my head that I'll marry him (nor do I have any idea how far we'll actually go), the fact that I am not a failure of a human being, somehow incapable of human relationships, has set me at ease.
In fact, I don't really think about having my own kids at this point because invariably, I'd be imagining what our kids would be like, and I don't want to do that! Nor do I feel that's necessary. With B right now, I'm focusing on just that...the right now. I wonder about the next time I'll see him, if we'll get further, and at this point in the relationship, it's like, okay, we've been hanging out...what can I do for you? What support can I provide, what do I believe in providing, as a Muslimah now in a relationship with a non-Muslim man (!!)? The farthest into the future I'm thinking is the Djavan concert I invited him to (for which I have to buy tickets still).
Meu bem querer tem um quê de pecado acariciado pela emoção...
Muslims who know me will have a shit-ton of questions, I know. Like, why, probably, are you knowingly seeing a non-Muslim. Fair question. I mean, all I talk about in this journal is my being Muslim, and my father being Christian, and not wanting to be in a relationship where someone's trying to convert me, and yes, even preferably to absolutely wanting to end up with a Muslim.
Yes, that continues. Does that mean, in the future, if things get more serious, this guy goes bye-bye? No, actually.
Like I said, I'm going on the now. I'm seeing him at the level that I've "seen" Muslim men before (haha, notice there's a higher level of propriety when discussing my interactions with Muslim men), as in...we've always been in public places, we've never been alone, with the exception that we've somehow attained a level of non-physical intimacy really fast, and I think that is a testament to both of our relative inexperiences when it comes to relationships and our willingness (at least mine) to go against the book, if you will...
I'm going on right now. I've talked about being Muslim, about wearing hijab, about being more conservative not 3 years ago--he hasn't told me anything about religion, clues that tells me that he's maybe Agnostic.
And no, I'm not out to convert him. No. That was my mother's mistake, and it shall not be mine.
Umm...I guess saying that I'm going for the now is a cop-out. Let me be entirely realistic right now. My chances of meeting someone with the specs that B has who is also Muslim who is actually willing to go forward with me in some type of trajectory ending in marriage is slim to none...not because of a shortage of Muslim men of these specs, but because it's an artifact of the way we Muslims socialize between genders in this country. B is awesome, I like him, we're so similar, we're almost, like, the same person of opposite genders. He accepts and respects my being Muslim and was still interested in spite of knowing my whole backstory (he knows everything, just because I talked about it once during Africa Night). This is the best thing that has ever come my way, and even better in ways than I could imagine. He's Igbo! I mean, wow...
And maybe it's not fair, but I assume he's Agnostic because Christians usually would have let me know by now about their Christianity, even if Christianoid, after the mention of religion.
There's a lot going on in this entry...maybe I should have written before...
Anyway, yeah...so I think it's okay for right now. I'm not talking about marrying this guy...
...so why, Muslimah, are you in a relationship with him!
Okay, so you know what? There are going to be people here, lurkers and what not, who take extreme issue to this. It's like, oh Lord, first, she hasn't worn hijab in three years and now she's in a relationship with a non-Muslim.
Maybe I'm trying my robe on at the gates of Hell, but I am constant in prayer, and insha'Allah I will continue to be, no one can take that away from me. I'm keeping my hand on the plow (imagine this all Mahalia Jackson style).
Hah, talk about mixing traditions here...insha'Allah in the same sentence quoting a Christian spiritual. Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, that's me!
But yeah, I'm in this because this is the best opportunity I've ever had to interact with someone, and no, I'm not settling anymore than my interest in MQ was settling just because he was Muslim.
Oh, but this is so jumbled, I think I'll end it here. This is the last time I'm going to be defensive about this. The fact of the matter is, I have had suitors who were both Muslim and non-Muslim since I was 16. This is just the first one that has promised to go forward. I am in a relationship with this guy, B, for better or for worse.
Keep me in your du'as, for sure, as I move forward prayerfully.
...later on, I'll actually post about why I think B is so awesome and why we're so similar and work so well.
We need to have the conversation, though, to make this official. I'll let him do that. I'm actually quite comfortable being nebulous for a time while I sort things out...