Tuesday, February 19, 2019


For some reason, for any number of reasons, today I thought back on my life. I just sat and thought about things that have happened, decisions I have made, memories I have kept and tweaked and deconstructed and reconstructed, whether accurately or otherwise.

When I was nineteen or so, I had my second boyfriend. He was Christian, and he didn't want his rather staunch family to know about me, because they wouldn't have approved that I came from a Muslim family (at the time, I was also a half-assed Muslim believer, although I was never practicing).

I was never really able to talk about him online, or mention him by name, even though we spent pretty much all our time together in school, and he was my best friend in the debates club. I made things very difficult for myself, and very likely for him, and we were on and off for a long time, because even at that time, I was already fond of transcribing my daily life, and sometimes, he would be there in all my ramblings and he wouldn't ask me to take it down, but it almost always strained things between us.

We were happy, though, when we were in love. It was very romantic, and I never doubted that he was true to me, despite the running around in half-secret. It made it all the more precious, I suppose. I don't know if I was his first love, but he was mine. I don't know why I never felt the same with my first boyfriend, I guess you really don't choose who you love, but with this second one, I felt it always. I wasn't the best of debaters, I wasn't consistent, sometimes I would make great impassioned speeches, I liked being the whip speaker, or the last in the team, but it wasn't like I had a formula down pat, it was almost always a fluke.

I remember really admiring this second boyfriend of mine, he was the president of the club when I was vice-president because we studied in the same cohort/class/year. I remember he would be encouraging in debates, when I did well, he would be extremely supportive, and when I didn't do well, he would always give me constructive feedback. He felt like my partner. He is happily married now, and I'm extremely glad and happy for him, although we are not friends anymore, and it no longer affects me, which was a hell of a long time coming.

The thing is, as a person who feels things with almost an acute intensity as I think in tangents, it is near impossible to let go of anything I witness in life. I went and fell for someone I barely knew, and I learned that he used Head and Shoulders shampoo (I still remember it was the almond variation). I asked him what animal he would like to be, and he said an owl, because owls can turn their heads round almost fully, and I was intrigued by this because I didn't know why that was even a factor in wanting to be an animal.

I answered his 3am calls, knowing full well he was not serious and would most likely break my heart. I let him drive me around Malibu, we were scorched in the afternoon heat, then let the breeze run through our hair while I took in the stars in the night sky, knowing it was not going to last. I tend to ask the men I date what they think is a pressing problem in the world, so I asked and he told me religious extremists, which I did not know at the time was such foreshadowing and would become so pertinent in my life, showing itself in large part because of him. When I left, I wrote him a note on an owl postcard.

I got pregnant, and to be honest, even now in my mindset, I don't think it should have been such a big deal. I knew my family wasn't going to take it well, though, so my brain and heart were in turmoil, and true enough, when they eventually found out, even though I had already miscarried, it didn't go down well.

I grew up and am still living in a household that still dictates what clothes I can leave the house in, that still makes comments when I paint my nails. Even though everyone pretty much knows I have a tattoo, I am possibly never going to wear anything that will expose any part of it to them, because it will likely actually break their hearts, metaphorically. When they found out, they retaliated in the weirdest but most passive-aggressive reactions. It was like everything I did upset them, but the tattoo remained unspoken of.

When I was going to New York, both my mom and grandma, who both live in the same apartment as I do now, explicitly said things like not to make the same mistakes and to be a good girl, meaning they expected me not to sleep with men that I am not legally wedded to.

Of course, the easy thing would be to continue doing whatever I wanted to do (which I did) and not speak of it, because that's what a lot of people do. I couldn't and cannot bring myself to do it that way, because apparently I have no gene for self-preservation.

I don't like pretending to live by someone else's rule, because for one, it just sets a precedent that you also believe what they are doing to be right, which I don't, and then you have to set the same example that they set for you, for future generations. I don't like abiding by bigoted rules, nor pretending to do so. It is whacked, the standards they live by and the standards I live by are completely contrasting.

They really inherently, honest-to-goodness believe in an afterlife, and they would rather live in denial, than accept that I don't believe in the same thing, because based on their beliefs, the consequences for a person like me are too unfathomable and thus the fear instilled in them makes it easier to deny the truth. It's been so ingrained.

I think, if not for my family, I would be quite relaxed, and I would be able to have fun and live in the moment (as much as is consistent with my personality -- I mean, I'm not even much of a partier). Living in fear is a thing that bothers me, I don't think fear is a thing that motivates me.

The confusion I went through during my pregnancy and miscarriage, eventually turned into full-blown depression. This affected me intensely and for a very long time, and it got so bad, even on my good days, I wondered whether the emotions I'd felt and the things I'd done, were me, or my depression/mental health. I questioned the extent of my self as opposed to my mental health issues, I didn't know if my happiness was real happiness or the high point in a manic-depressive situation. I didn't know if I would ever be really okay again.

I say all this because I truly believe if I had had the support of a family that was rational and logical, and I wasn't made to feel like premarital sex was a sin, that my having gotten pregnant was a punishment for having gone against a higher power, that the depression from my miscarriage was a premeditated test for my character, the last couple of years would have gone much differently than it did.

I think about my desire to live in the States, and of course there is a lot of.... white noise, I feel as if I might be taking up space there, I don't know if I would be accepted, I ask myself why I can't just take the easy route, and live where I've always lived. And then I think of Hamilton, and the story of US independence. They used to be a British colony, much like most of the world's countries. If they hadn't felt unsettled and restless enough, they would never have pushed to be free.

This is the person I am, the same one who likes and loves random people off the street. The one who makes my exes' current and future girlfriends uncomfortable because I just want to be friends with and understand everyone, and because I want to remain friends with everyone I've dated. The same person who makes my dates feel like they have to compare with previous men because I can't stop rambling about people I used to love in my life.

Today I also even thought, even if seemingly unrelated, about my real dad. Before I left for New York, he asked to meet for dinner and I agreed 'cos I thought it would be good to leave on a good note. He then came for dinner with my youngest siblings, both younger than ten years old, and let me know that he was broke.

The fact that he was broke and that I had to foot the bill for us was not even what really gnawed at me, it was the fact that during dinner, he mentioned Under Armour headphones for working out with and whether I could look out for them while I was in the States. This was at the same dinner that he was too broke to apparently afford. The only reason I didn't mention it anywhere is 'cos I knew my mother would lord it over my head, she used to think that every failure of my father's, is a personal victory for her, even though my very young half-siblings could be affected.

Today I think about how the chosen family members I have made for myself have proven to be more reliable, than some of my own blood relatives. I thought about so much today and my conclusion was: if you want a simple life, don't be Sarah Mei Lyana.

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