Monday, October 1, 2012


As salaam alaikum,

This is adapted from a letter I wrote to some of my closest cousins.

Relating to another person has made me realize how much I lived within myself, or at the very least in my own discrete, alternate reality. The longer you live there, the harder it is to get out, the harder it is to convince yourself that anyone but someone who fits into that reality will work out.

I lived in a world informed by 60s-90s soul music, musica popular brasileira and post-bop jazz. I lived to the beat of samba and New Jack Swing. I lived in a world where the way that I thought was the essential reality and everything outside was complementary at best, extraneous at worst.

Relating to someone who won't automatically understand why I sometimes utter the lyrics, "A gente quer ter voz ativa, no nosso destino mandar, mas eis que chega a roda viva, e carrega o destino pra la..." is a given. I've lived by myself, in myself for so long, so much of me only makes sense to me. So much of me is garbled and nearly unintelligible. So much of me related to watching the play "Turandot," and hearing Turandot utter that she was a daughter of Heaven and there her soul resided, just to be reminded by her aspiring lover that her soul may be in Heaven but her body was right there with him.

It's not that I bethought myself a daughter of Heaven or thought that my soul transcended this earth. It's that...while my spirit is not as easily accessible, my body is very accessible.

I'd been waiting for a man to relate to my spirit, which I fretted would never happen because it would seem so hard to do. What would a man do with a waxing-and-waning practicing Muslim woman who belts out to Stevie and Elis and cries at the end of Black Orpheus with tears of joy as the children dance after the death of Orpheus and Eurydice?

And I didn't realize, he doesn't have to.

He doesn't have to dig deep or travel far to access my soul. My body's here with him. My soul remains my own.

So I'll still believe that "We want to have an active voice, command in our own destiny, but along comes the wheel of life and carries destiny far away..." and listen to the very 60s style song by Chico Buarque by myself, in my car, blasting it down the highway and be content that no one else understands why I love that song so much.

And he doesn't have to.

And for the first time, that's okay.

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