Confessions of the Hopeless Romantic

Kaye M.

Kaye M.

That is my first confession: I spend endless hours drowning in lovelorn prose and will sigh over Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen and sundry YA titles (though I draw the line, pragmatic to the finish, at Juliet and her Romeo).

It is not an admission I am ashamed of. There is nothing wrong with a steady diet of fluff and fairytales – a little whipped cream to mask the harsh reality of day-to-day college life and the steady awareness that I am in a smaller circle of friends than I used to be.

There is an obvious line drawn between the single and…well, those who used to be single.

I have not been put in a corner as a hateful pariah. I am still greeted, smiled at, kissed on the cheek and handed a baby to bounce on my hip. One of my two best friends (the other is still single, albeit in a steady relationship, as am I, with the humdrum of classes and internships) messages me almost every evening, about makeup, crafts, the weather outside and how ghastly it is and how ghastly yesterday was and the day before that.

I have never been a girl who wrinkles up her nose at marriage. It is not for everyone, that much I understand, but for me, it has always felt like the inevitable unfurling of a red carpet, that sweet beam of sunlight that pokes at your curtains in the early hours of the morning – wake up, wake up and toss this oppressive fabric back and embrace happiness down to your very marrow.

Another confession: I’ve always liked the idea of my very own Gilbert Blythe. If I’ve ever been in love, it is with the ideal of mutual devotion and affection, being able to take humor in irrational fits of pique and unruly hair and moments when your spouse takes off into literary whimsy, because God knows that at the best of times, I never fully have my feet pressed to the ground where they should be.

And yet, at the cusp of marriageable age (if those wise aunties that always congregate after Eid prayer to sum up the changes in you after another long year are to be believed), I hesitate.

The question, “So are you ready to be married?” always elicits a shy smile, a nod, that tedious sentence, “I feel like I am, but…”

But how do you know?

How can you tell that these feelings are sound and solid?

How do you know without cues from an invisible author – your heart pattering against the ivory bars within your chest, his smile and gentle nod when he is asked if you are truly, deeply what he has expected, has waited for just as long as you have?

How, from the sum of a few interviews, family dinners, glances across a gathering, can you see across years to a man that you will be proud to loop your arm with, laugh with and at, and see his features plastered across the faces of your children?

How do you keep your own sappy, silly romantic daydreams from disappointing you in the routine of human life and individuality?

I am a human woman. I am aware of my own flaws, painfully so. I know very well the faces I pull when I’m not entirely awake. I submerge myself in creativity. I falter at eye contact and can lose my patience with my younger brother and have not fully mastered the culinary arts without at least a minor panic attack.

How do you trust in yourself, when you know how you can betray yourself, to be able to find the soul that is meant to spend his life with you? Every vision, every daydream, is painted rosy-red with the previous experience of fantasy scenarios and picture-perfect wedding proposals. There is no faltering.

There is no moment where, surrounded by friends who seem to have the road map to a Perfect Family Unit rolled up and neatly tucked in their purses next to their travel Qu’ran and baby wipes, you admit that you aren’t quite sure where to begin in seeking out Mr. Right.

There is no dark, deep conflict within the soul, as you contemplate the guidelines of your Prophet versus your own selfish desires – religious, kind, handsome, but can he also be the man to laugh at my tongue-tied moments and sweep up kids in his arms and tickle them until they giggle and stay afloat in my oversized, overloud extended family?

Will I settle, without quite knowing I have? Will those whimsical hours of Regency romance and witty courtship overtures come back to haunt me, when I must make a decision and my heart holds steady and my breaths are deep and brisk and steadying rather than shallow and soft?

For now, I try to indulge myself in the privileges of the single woman. Marriage is not a cure-all for the aches within my soul, and there is so much I need to do to nuture myself. I know that. I continue to begin TV shows right when they are in their last season, check out more library books than I could possibly read, and revel in the fact that I don’t necessarily have to doll myself up for my Computer Science class.

Some nights, I look at Muslim wedding articles, shaadi blogs on Tumblr and relevant Pinterest boards, and blush over it the next morning when my bare, ringless fingers are there to greet me as I start the day.

Reasonably, I know that sharing a life between two is about more than how you’ll decorate your apartment or set up the reception.

I am aware, at least with a naïve, barely-there anticipation, that the dizzying adoration of baby fever may abandon me in the wee hours of the morning, when I realize this glorious creature is mine – no refunds, no exceptions, no other waiting set of hands to patiently coax it back into a dozing stupor.

Everything is in the hands of God. I leave my path, my future love and life and happiness, to God’s will and wisdom, which is far more than the heart of an emotional bookworm. But the fear is a dull seed, or perhaps a vine curled about my mind, a hollow ache on the nights when I am wistful and yearning and sending up prayers to my Creator that I take the right steps and say the right things.

When I set my mind to it, I can tie sandbags to my unreasonable, hopelessly romantic expectations. But, having those expectations makes me worry about not finding them after all.

Besides indulging herself in sugary romances, Kaye M. is in school as an English major, writes YA novels, and is a outspoken advocate online for diversity and feminism.