For an hour in the morning and another in the evening, I have the distinct honor of riding the BART to work. I wisely spend that time answering work emails, reading food blogs, and scrolling through Instagram. Oh, and I people watch because golly, the most “interesting” things happen on BART. Like the time a Paris Hilton look-alike demanded a separate seat for her tiny chihuahua on the crushingly crowded morning commute where people have lost limbs trying to score the last seat. Oh, or the time some guy thought he was Kanye West’s double and insisted on rapping the whole way. Leather pants and all.
But aside from the BART characters, the overwhelmingly majority of people have a glazed expression on their faces as they stare at their phones or in the distance. More often than not, the air is rife with a general apathy (and the smell of old laundry). Occasionally, someone will get on with a laughing baby and no one will look up. Or an elderly person will get on and no one will bother to offer a seat. It’s truly apathy at its finest and that nothingness is so much worse than actual anger or malice because being malicious requires some effort. Some thought. But to do nothing is an indication that you just don’t care and that is truly concerning.
My son loves running around in circles. I mean that literally. He’ll grab a favorite hat or bear and sing and dance while running in circles through the house. As great as he finds it, I personally do not like running around in circles. And yet this is exactly what I’ve been doing for the past three months with my insurance company. Due to an error on their end, my son’s claim did not get processed properly, leaving us to foot the bill. They acknowledge their error, advise us to do XYZ, and then weeks later, say whoops! We were supposed to actually do ABC, and then we run in circles again once more.
It’s not the end of the world. Sure, I’d rather spend the money on a nice outfit and some shoes. Or a lavish meal at a fufu steakhouse. Or fifteen orders of Vietnamese Pho. But at the end of the day, worst case scenario, if we have to pay it, the sky will not collapse upon our heads. It’s just frustrating. Unfairness is frustrating. Being on the phone with a squirmy baby, a hollering toddler belting out twinkle twinkle little star with the intensity paralleled only by a Metallica concert, while getting transferred from department to department until I’m back where I started – I might as well have had a conversation with my bathroom mirror for all the good this did me. Not a fun way to start off my morning.
I know some people are naturally centered and calm in the face of stresses both big and small, but I remain a work-in-progress as my natural inclination is to feel a hard knot of frustration building in my chest that even twenty-five koala bears doing incredibly cute things like chewing bamboo shoots while batting their eyes could not properly diffuse. And the problem with the frustration isn’t the frustrating thing itself, but the domino effect it can have on a day.
I often wonder about love after death.
After the bodies are buried, janazas are done, and people become memories – how do we love souls then? Is it in the past, like a faded memory? Does loving end when the grief ends? Can we continue to love, and have our lives shaped by that love, after the person is gone? What if…. they never actually really leave? How do we love through transitions into the hereafter?
This past July, I went to South Asia to caretake (“babysit”) my maternal grandfather for a couple of weeks while my aunt was out of town on business. He was a strong, tall, gregarious man, always the center of attention. He had just had his 86th birthday, and aging had taken its toll after the recent deaths of my Nani and two years later, my Ammu.
All I heard was the word “friends”.
Everything after that was muffled. To be quite honest, I wasn’t really listening. He could have told me the building was on fire and I would have just kept smiling and nodding.
I was in the friends zone.
Maybe intentionally. Maybe not.
Regardless it was a smack in the face. I thought this is how Biz Markie must have felt. I should have just busted out in rhymes in the middle of the restaurant.
I zoned back into the conversation. As arrogant as it might be perceived I had enough friends and I didn’t want anymore. If my lips could have uttered what my mind was thinking than that is what I would have said. I was looking for a husband, not anymore friends.
I couldn’t say that, it would have sounded absolutely ridiculous.
I recently decided to step back from actively searching for someone to marry. I’m serious and interested, but aspects of the Muslim matchmaking process are strange for me.
I lost my beloved wife, Joan, just over a year ago. The prospect of starting over with someone new after sixteen years of marriage is daunting. I am a forty-year-old white American male, but I am also Muslim. Some readers may respond, “So what?” But I’ve discovered that when you are a member of a minority, your identity markers have real impact. And, with 1.7 billion Muslims globally, a lot of cultural practices get mixed into love and (re)marriage.
As a Muslim convert, I have to navigate different cultural spaces to find a Muslim partner. On top of that, I have a biracial and transcultural son. These variables create a mix of opportunity and chaos.