Look at the date… yep, that’s right, it’s almost Valentine’s Day! and you better believe that the reminder to be in love is everywhere! It’s on the radio, in the grocery store, on magazine covers, and pretty much where ever you look! Well, I happen to like Valentine’s Day. I think my husband sold me on it eight years ago, when he bought me a great movie (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), a bouquet or red and pink roses, and of course, chocolate! I was impressed! He even took the initiative to buy all of those things himself and surprise me with them.
So even though it wasn’t an expensive dinner or jewelry, that Valentine’s Day has stayed in my mind throughout our relationship. Needless to say, I have harrassed him every year since when the holiday approaches to let him know what I might like… if say, he was in the mood to surprise me. 😉 So, as the romantic holiday approaches, I thought I would write about how I fell in love with my husband, who brought me into the world of all things Moroccan.
Dressed in a leather mini-skirt and a black halter top, I was dancing at a hot club in H-Town in the summer of 2002. I had been forced to change my plans of staying in Baton Rouge, LA (where I went to school at LSU) and had moved in with my parents for the summer. Nothing could keep me in the house for very long and I was highly unwilling to give up my partying or my freedom during the summer. So, there I was looking good and feeling sexy while dancing with my high school friends when I met eyes with a man across the room who was coming towards me on the dance floor. Now I may have looked the part, but sadly I was nothing like the woman that I was portraying. In truth, that scantily dressed 18 year old was a virginal prude who had learned all there was to know about men and how to interact with them by means of alcohol induced flirting throughout my first year of college.
This man coming towards me didn’t know that, and after realizing that he was coming to dance with me, I immediately turned around and gave him my back. In reality I was trying to save myself from the confusing possibilty that a man might me really be interested in me; an idea that my low level of self-esteem wouldn’t allow my brain to process. Ironically, rather than sending the signal I intended, my actions had the opposite effect and lured in my potential admirer who thought that I was playing hard to get. Needless to say this man continued on his journey toward me until he encircled me so that I would have no other choice but to dance with him. So, I gave in and did my best to come off as confident and attractive. We danced, we talked, I learned that he spoke French (huge turn-on for a French major), and ultimately I gave him my cell phone number – not a big shocker since I was giving it away to anyone who asked for it. Of course I never expected a phone call since no one before him had every called before. But around noon the next day an unknown number popped up on my caller id. Ignoring it the first time, I finally picked up on the second phone call (made within 10 minutes of the first). Side note: yeah, these men really dont play the games that American men play.
I think the conversation probably went something like this: Me: “Hello?” Him: “Hi! How are you today?” Me: “Huh, who is this?” Him: “It’s Sebastien, from the Spy Club.” Me: “Who?” Him: “Sebastien. We met last night at the club. Don’t you remember me!” Me: “Uh, who?” Him: “Sebastien! You gave me your number last night.” Me: Oh, ok. Why are you calling me?” Him: (finally) “I want to see you today”. Me: “what?!” Him: “Come over to my apartment.” Me: “Are you serious?” Him: “Yes, come on a date with me.” Me: “Uh, I am not coming over to your house. I don’t even know you. How do I know you aren’t like a serial killer?” Him: “You can trust me. Just bring a friend with you.” Me: um…. I’ll think about it. Call me back in a little while. Bye.”
Real smooth right? Like I said, I was Ms. Confident. Anyway, I ended up going to meet him with my best friend. I wanted a reality check. I wanted to see if this guy was really into me. Plus, my best friend was a really beautiful brunette: slender and chic and always the center of attention. If I was going to enter the dating world with this man he had better pass the “he doesn’t prefer my friends over me” test. So, we go meet him and his friend at Starbucks. This time I was sober and in a well lit cafe… and he was skinny! and tall (yay!) and had the most gorgeous plump lips I had EVER seen! Wowza! My friend immediately asked who was for who and was ever so slightly disappointed (and probably shocked) to see that he was for me. This realization was probably too much for me at the time. Not only was a man attracted to me, but he was also attractive, and he was NOT into my much more attractive friend. I probably would have agreed to have his children right then and there! 🙂
We immediately started a whirlwind romance, in which I fell head over heels in love with him. Within 2 months, I had practically moved in with him. I met his family who were on vacation from Morocco and I was smitten with them as well. I know now that I was soo emotionally involved that I couldn’t see straight. I was awed by his charisma, by his “bad boy-ness”. I was attracted to the idea of him. He fit my plans – French speaking boy to be passionate about and with, to enthrall me, to take me away on adventures, to BE my adventure. I know that he was not expecting me. He thought that he was getting a silly girl who just wanted fun and didn’t expect the innocent and naive child who was really there.
The summer flew by. There were night time escapades (too daring to talk about here – no NOT just that kind!), and days filled with waiting tables. Before I knew it, I had to move back to Louisiana and start school again. So, we had one last romantic night together. Then I left and we promised to try out our long distance relationship. He visited me in Baton Rouge. I came back to Houston. We spent two months apart and working new jobs and living separate lives. But I couldn’t concentrate. This boy had stolen my heart. He had encased me in his essence and I couldn’t be or breathe without him. I cried watching Alladin for crying out loud! Ridiculous, but true. 🙂 and by this time I had learned that my “Sebastien” was to be traded in for a much more Arab name that was actually his.
So, what did I do? Well first I dropped out of that semester at LSU. I moved in with him in Houston and we got married a little under six months after we first met that night in late May of 2002. We did not have a wedding. I did not tell my parents for almost a year (in my defense my mom almost died at the news that I had dropped out for a boyfriend). We survived the next couple of crazy months. Then in January of 2003 we moved to Louisiana. I went back to school and got a new job. We learned a lot more about each other and in the next two and a half years we fought and I cried and we laughed and loved and we made it work. When I graduated, got a job and six months later got pregnant, we made it work again. Before having my first daughter, I took my first trip to Morocco. My mother came along as well – I’m pretty sure she was afraid I might never come back otherwise. I loved it! I was fat and pregnant and miserable but we went all over the country. The beauty was astounding! The purity was … purifying! I loved not only the country but my husband more for seeing it and understanding it and him in it.
I have been back 3 more times since that first trip to Morocco. My husband and I have made it to almost 10 years together and 2 children later. There have been bumps in the road – BIG ones most recently – and we’re still here. Through it all, I have always felt that God had a plan for us when we met so long ago. Sometimes I am grateful for that and sometimes I am resentful. But, that’s life. There’s happiness and bitterness and all the emotions in between.
My love story is one in which I have come to accept that Valentine’s Day will not always be as happy as it was once or twice in my life. It is a love story that has taught me that it is ok to say to my spouse not only do I love you but I hate you. It has made me into an adult and into a person who sees a little clearer and without glasses that are so darkly shaded pink. I can understand now and try to reconcile myself with phrases like “The opposite of love is not hate but apathy” and “never lose sight of who YOU are”. For all those reasons I can say “alhumdulillah” (thank God)! and be amused by the approaching holiday and the love in the air.