Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Love Hasn't Changed

As salaam alaikum,

It took me 9 hours yesterday to twist my hair. Whoo! What an ordeal. It's my fault for making them too small. I meant to write this entry yesterday when I was so inspired, but after running errands today, this is the first chance I have to do it. Just as well.

I'm seeing B after not having seen him for two and a half weeks this evening, iA. And I barely talked to him over break, too. I maybe had hour long conversations with him three times...the rest of the time, it was trying to text him or just failing to call him. Break was lonelier, even though in the presence of my family, this time and I don't know why. I guess I just feel like my parents have their own routine and whereas those first few times I came home, we'd hang out, this time it was like I was just an accessory. They enjoyed my time at home, though.

But that's not what I was going to write about...

If this were even a few months back and someone told me that my life depended on not listening to music anymore, I would have declared myself unable. Now...I think I would actually be able to pull it off.


Because, I felt entitled.


Yeah, it's confusing, but let me explain.

As I became a more practicing Muslim in college, I learned so many things about Islam and Muslims that I never knew. For example, growing up, I had little idea that some Muslims consider music to be haram. I mean, I did remember that my mother would "fast" music for the entire month of Ramadan, a tradition I upheld for about 6 Ramadans...so, stemming from her reasons for doing that, I could understand it. As I worked to decide how conservative I wanted to be, I considered stopping listening to music altogether.

In the meantime, I think Yusuf Islam had come back to music and I read part of his explanation why...I never got through the whole thing. I considered that pretty powerful...a revert who had denounced music, abandoning his career, coming back to music.

So, I resolved to employ what I now know is media literacy...I am very cognizant of what I take into my body, what it means, how it affects me. I absolutely will not listen to music with Atheist themes, even if slight, or any songs that go against my theology (if they are religious songs).

But now, at this juncture in my life, I see the wisdom in not listening to music that I didn't see before...

I said I felt entitled. That was the other reason why I didn't give up music. I was trying to be patient, and in the name of Allah (swt) and my Islam, I avoided all relationships so that I would be sure that sex would only happen in marriage, and that the process of my getting married was done properly. But at the same time, I was lonely, very lonely. There was a time in my late teen years where I cried myself to sleep nearly every night, I think, for every day that I was still alone. At the same time, I prayed and I prayed and I became more practicing and I prayed...but without the fullness of faith that all would be alright.

So, in my mind, I was suffering, but for me, it was a self-righteous struggle. Yes, I was just another Muslimah striving in the way of Allah (swt), striving, praying to achieve patience, persevering, in a time when my body is ready and fully capable of being a wife and a mother. Listening to music, whose themes addressed love and for me was often a catharsis...was the least I could do, the least of several other evils in my mind.

Because I was waiting, because I was perpetually single and in wait for half my religion to realize itself, I was entitled to have my music.

But now, I'm moving forward and on into uncharted territory. I'm never going to be perpetually single again...even if this relationship were to end, the 7 year drought (if I count from 18 onward) has ended.

And it's not that I rationalized that I no longer need music...I just, no longer feel about music the way I used to.

That being said, I did listen to about an hour and a half of my favorite Stevie Wonder songs on youtube while doing my hair and still enjoyed it, so it's not like I totally dislike music. I can just do without it.

So if someone told me that my life depended on it or that it was better at this point for me not to listen to it, I'd be able to do it.

But still, love hasn't changed.

And what do I mean by that?

I listen to some of the songs and I remember how I felt about my last major crush, MQ. The song that describes how I felt when I first started falling for him was "Overjoyed," by Stevie Wonder ("And though you don't believe that they do, they do come true. For did my dreams come true when I looked at you. And maybe, too, if you would believe, you, too, might be overjoyed, over love, over me"). The song of my disillusionment was Djavan's "Doidice." (translated: "I fell in love? Maybe, it could be. I went crazy? I don't know, I've never seen it. I need to leave. After I discovered that there is you, I never existed again.")

There's not one song that describes what it's like for me when I fall in love. The reason I can go without listening to music now is that I now feel validated...what I felt, those crushes, I fell in love with those men. I'm validated because I'm in the process of falling in love with another, and I'm not there yet, and I know where it can go.

I can't even put into words what my love is, but once I'm there, I'd follow the man to the ends of the earth if that's where he was going without batting an eyelid. For me, love is not mystical-magical. It's part admiration (of a man's intellect, his personality, his aspirations, his charity) and it's part my estimation of whether or not this person is good with God.

I'm not yet in love with B because I'm still gauging his faith and what he thinks about my faith. MQ was easy. He was already Muslim, so I made assumptions about where he was in his faith. But if B were Muslim, I'd be praying for him to propose to me already!

So yes...I listen to old music and I know, I've been in love before, and the formula is the same. Love for me hasn't changed. I'll know it when I'm there.

But now that I'm sure of it...and now that I'm experiencing a relationship...most of the music where people try to approximate the feeling seems hackneyed at best. It pales in comparison to the real experience and is valueless, often. Or rather, their value-thin.

For me, love is not valueless. There is no romantic love for me because romantic love sounds devoid of spirituality, while my falling in love is so linked to spirituality and my conceptions of religion...and practicality. I only fall for someone who I think has feelings for me back. That's not romantic.

So love hasn't changed. I still know how it feels. I'll know it when I get there, if I get there with B or not. But I'm growing so I'll get there in a more practical way, in a better time frame. I'm growing and I'm learning things that I knew abstractly would exist that I'd have to deal with and here I am, facing them, on to the next one, as it were.

Now, just waiting for him to get off of work so we can have dinner...the quesadilla I made and the cherries I ate will hold me until we finally get things going, which I posit will be 7-8pm.

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