The Happiest in the World

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As far as I’m concerned, Ramzan never started this year. Previous years I have tried to conjure up the routine, the rituals, the people even, to get a Ramzan feeling going. This year, with the NY heat, the crazy work and the guest at home, it seems impossible.

Appropriately, HD and I went to a 4th of July party last night. It was actually quite lovely even though I am not so much a fireworks person. Nonetheless, it was indeed quite nice being crammed on to a Manhattan rooftop with a view of Brooklyn Bridge and then to be crammed inside a smaller Manhattan apartment. But what can I say, it transformed unexpectedly to be a dancing hip hop party; the small space lent itself to an intimate vibe and it was perfect. The music, the friends, the cool summer breeze through the balcony, the old-time hip-hop to take us back to our uni days.

I have stopped resisting having to leave this place but as I spend this one last calm weekend here alone, I can’t help but feel that this was the best place ever. I don’t know why I think that because it is certainly wrong and I have had many other moments suspended in time that were wonderful in wonderful homes; but right now it’s this one and people are partying outside with loud music appropriate for a tropical island and it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t bother me that I slept only 6 hours last night and got back late with the man that I love because I was telling him that I had such a good time with him.

I try to tell him to enjoy what he gets now because I don’t know what lies ahead and maybe the summer will whizz by and we’ll be apart and missing each other and I will swear to myself and God that I had never wanted it to be this way. Unless HD gets a job in DC sooner rather than later, we will learn to be apart. But nothing can change the fact that we will leave the best apartment that we have ever lived in. Looking at the pictures from last night, I can’t help but wonder if I will look back at our youthful and glowing happy faces and think that this was the most wonderful time. I won’t remember the angst and the struggle and the self-doubt and the ‘where am I goings?’. I will think these two people who go to rooftop parties are the happiest in the world and they don’t have a care in the world.

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Walk with me

Why is suffering a part of making decisions and which part of me suffers? I can feel it today, the pain and pleasure cutting through me viscerally. The sun and the spring waking me, I walked the two blocks to my favourite bagel store today. A walk I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do just two months ago and today I made it without a problem. When I walked out, the familiar feeling of being on my feet with somewhere nice to go was so raw and familiar, like an old friend. What is freedom if I can’t run away? What if I don’t live and risk my own dreams?

What of marriage and being one? One goal, one vision, two partners trying to convince each other of the paths to take. So painful to compromise, I had never been one for sacrifices and it turned out I was already making them as soon as I wed without even realizing it. How I had wanted to strike out on my own – I will accept my own selfishness. It has always been about me. It took me three years to fully feel committed to this boy who did the most and the toughest things for me. We proved ourselves to each other over and over again in our triumphs and failures, making our own story. Three years to believe that our lives always better be entwined this way and I will do my best to make that happen. Yet admittedly I duck out from time to time to yearn for myself. What did I want? Am I okay?

We can’t stay suspended here in this spring. Can I carry you with me?

4 days alone

Day 1: Freedom

HD left early this morning on a 4 day trip. I didn’t even have time to feel sad or bad, so exhausted was I from the day before. C was still sleeping and I had been tired out showing her around Hartford. I woke up again just in time to have some breakfast with her and drop her at the bus station. Back home in an empty apartment, I realised that it felt great to be alone especially after so much activity. I had all these wonderful ideas of the wonderful things I was going to do now that I had a stretch of time to myself. I also made a mental note to allow myself some days home alone post kids. I can’t imagine how badly I’d need it then. I happily proceeded to cooking and cleaning up.

Day 2: Utter dejection

I woke up early looking forward to a busy day. I had appointments all over the place and made it on time for a 7:30 one. I am not sure how I had time to have the saddest epiphanies ever in between my busy day but I realised that I wasn’t doing too well and that although my life was happy and I was generally happy, I had taken a hit and it was time to acknowledge it.

I had lost my job a few months ago and there seemed to be no end to unemployment in sight. I had made it the 1st couple of months by getting more part-time work but even that ended last month. I was all ready and excited to move and move on, ready to move to a better city (preferably NYC) where I wouldn’t feel so alone. Which brought me to another realisation: I am still lonely. It is still hard to live here even if I have stopped expressing it; denial doesn’t make it go away. I still yearn for a close friend in the same time zone and for a sense of belonging. Worse, I don’t make enough effort with the people I have met here to get to the point of close friendship.

I have read stories about women getting married and feeling lonely which surprised them as they thought it would fulfill every want. Mostly in these stories, they did married men who didn’t understand them as well as they should have. I thought I knew not to have huge expectations in this regard and to not expect one relationship to fulfill me. I should have realised that one relationship is all I would have to count on if I moved though. My disappointment came not from HD’s lack of understanding – although he did struggle to understand why I needed friends – but from my own skewed expectations of married life. I think I had imagined it to be full of parties and friends, not two people stuck in a town with no parties or friends.

I lost my favourite aunt to some inexplicable illness a few months ago. I didn’t even know she was my favourite until it happened. Suddenly, I don’t see a point of visiting Khi anymore. Who else is going to look as forward to meeting HD? Who else will laugh and entertain us and make inappropriate jokes? I can’t imagine the void and I don’t want to go back and see it. Meanwhile another aunt is dying of cancer. Nobody says it like that but I know that’s exactly how it is and I would rather not have false hope.

Other changes include breaking off with 2 of my oldest friends. One had stopped being understanding and friendly a long time ago and the other had changed beyond understanding awhile ago but I held on to the past. I missed the signs to let go and it came about the way it did and now it’s done.

I was hugely disappointed and hurt by my cousins living close by and couldn’t figure out the rejection. Turns out not everyone wants to be close friends with me.

Over the past year and a half, I have suddenly found myself managing daily pain, going in and out of doctors’ offices, getting needles stuck in me on a monthly basis, put under general anesthesia twice, and generally feeling like my body is letting me down and holding me back. My mobility has been limited for the past 6 months and at times I have felt like a handicaped person without the car sticker. I was unable to attend my best friend’s wedding due to finances and unable to attend her bachelorette party due to my health and then I was angry at myself for it.

All this isn’t to say that I am miserable. It is just to remind myself that I still go on and get happy but it’s okay to acknowledge that some parts of life are tougher than others and sometimes I struggle. Somewhere in the business of life, I actually forgot to be sad and it all hit me like a truck on Day 2 and I finally cried over everything.

A few years ago, I had gone to see a play in London. It was written by a female Bengali author, and it was about three different women’s stories. Three different women who migrated to (if memory serves me correctly) England  upon marriage and how they coped with their new lives in completely different surroundings. One of them had a very supportive husband and one of them did not. They struggled with the ‘foreigness’ of things that are not foreign to me. At the time, I thought that this was a very common story but surely one that could not apply to me ever. I was already ‘in the West’ already spoke the language, knew the ways. I have ample moving experience and travelling alone experience. I know how to read maps and figure out bus routes, jump on coaches and negotiate.

Also, why would I, as an independent woman, ever move to another country only for marriage? Surely my husband and I would work out where it is best to live and work. Even when I decided to move to the US, it did not occur to me that I was a little bit like these women. I mean moving here was my choice too, it seemed like the next step to take, the next adventure was meant to be here. It didn’t occur to me that this time I was moving not to a new job or new school but to a new man. It also didn’t occur to me that the changes would be so different that I would indeed feel frustrated at them. I did not realize that I would wind up so dependent on my husband; with no public transport and nothing within walking distance, all my comings and goings are through him. Never mind that he bends over backwards to make me feel comfortable or that we do exactly what I like, the irony of the situation doesn’t fail me. So here I am living a stereotypical life of some desi woman who only steps out with her man. Husband dear did remind me that it is only temporary and soon I’ll be so busy doing the groceries alone, running my own errands and working.

The borderline loneliness and boredom I did anticipate however. I had thought it might be worse so I am doing well in terms of my own predictions. I rarely miss anyone and I don’t seem to have any problems there, it just seems that I have sadness creep over sometimes, in the form of a bad mood or in my dreams. In my dreams, the attachment I feel to people and my old life isn’t the same as in my waking life.

Pieces of me

Moving to London to look for a job and settle down led me to doing the complete opposite of that. I did not get a job and I did not feel that I really wanted one there. I ended up getting engaged to my American and winding up the last few bits and pieces of my life in London. I had left my possessions in storage in London with the aim of eventually coming back and settling there again. But God makes different plans and I found myself digging my stuff out, donating most of it to charity and then sending some back to Geneva, my city. The hardest thing to lay to rest were my law books, physical symbols of my pride, determination and sweat. I have kept my mountains of folders and they will have to find their place in my parents’ house until the day comes when I clear them out too. They have outlived their usefulness and in a new land with different laws, they probably won’t be needed.

It just made me think that when I make new friends now, they only see a snapshot in time of me. If we get close and I want them to know me better, I have to fill them in on so much. Those high school years, the rebellions from my parents, the secret piercing, the university loves, the grinding life at law school, the long break afterwards and a whole lot in between. I guess I find it that I want to hold on to everything positive or important that happened and keep it is a part of me. All the places where my memories were made, all the people who helped make them, all those world-shattering experiences, the most negative ones that left me appreciating the raw beauty of life, it makes it hard to explain who I am. Especially now with my wonderful freedom and being in wedding planning mode, there seem to be no reflections of my past. If possibly I had stayed in one place or one city my whole life, I would have been able to keep tabs on it. It would be all around me. But it’s not and I am moving into the new and starting from scratch. It’s up to me to remember how much I want to remember and show whichever pieces of me that I want to show.

Do you believe in a life after singlehood?

What lies beyond bachelorette-hood? What kind of life is there after the single years are over? What do you do when you achieve what once seemed like the most coveted status, that of girlfriend, fiancée or wife?

Recently, I had a random urge to watch Sex and the City again. This time around, Carrie wasn’t annoying as hell and I could actually relax and enjoy the show without over relating with any of the characters. At one point in my life, I had felt that my time spent single was so interminable long and my attempts to get out of it so ridiculously disastrous, that these episodes were worthy of a sex and the city style blog. A wise friend of mine pointed out that my experiences could not possibly match up to the four gals in the show and I would be awfully limited in my scenarios. On some level, I must have accepted what he had said, and I never tried to write that blog. But this post is about something else. It’s about what happens to you when you cross over to the other side and find ‘the one’. Well the show ends. It did with Sex and the City (although they came back for movies but that doesn’t count). It did with Cinderella, and that’s that.

In real life, does one feel overwhelmed with gratitude, relief and other strong emotions, that one is finally in a couple? My path hasn’t quite been like that. First I went through denial. I hung on to my single identity and reflexes. When you’re single, there are possibilities around every corner. Every next encounter could be a romantic one and every new cute guy possible potential. Coming out of that mind-frame took awhile. Getting  rid of the doubt took awhile too. Life had its own way of removing denial and doubt. It brought me to a point in time where I can say who I want to be with, with absolute conviction. I don’t feel the need to spend more time with my friends, living up the big city life. It would have been a great second choice, but my first choice is to get married and to live with my husband. And that’s what I’m getting. Engaged. 🙂