Yesterday a friend wrote, talking about ten years ago and the way it was different in her eyes than mine. Of the way I’ve focused on the bitter weeds and so few of the flowers. She was there, too, and what she saw was so much the same and so vastly different, because what I felt as bondage she saw as security, what I found wounding was something she longed for, wished for, wept for in the open air on cold nights. Perhaps a glass house, easily shattered, is better than no house at all?
They’re talking about the bombing, while the hunt is on for the 19 year old and all of Boston has locked its doors. I’m waiting for my coffee and a girl with blonde hair leans across her table behind me, saying it’s true, that Muslims are enemies of America, that we need to be on the watch, that their languages shouldn’t be spoken on our shores. My heart has been breaking for the city all week, praying for safety and comfort and wishing for justice. But all I can think about in the coffee shop is my uncle’s mother in her hijab, the softness of her milky hands and the way she ran her fingers through my tiny cousin’s hair. I’m remembering the week we stood in a cluster as they buried my uncle with his face turned east, the men dropping handfuls of sod over his lowered casket. Women had been cooking for days, filling the kitchen with spicy Syrian meals, loving my aunt and my cousin with food, the way we do. I’m remembering the woman I met last month, sitting across an airplane aisle, a retired gynecologist from Texas and before that, Pakistan. We told stories of motherhood, three children each, and she told me it gets easier, there won’t be any diapers eventually and they’ll grow up to become my friends if I let them feel deeply loved while they’re small. She pulled her veil closer to her forehead with one hand and placed the other atop the hand of her sleeping husband, rested on her thigh. I never once thought to name either one my enemy.
He sat down, stood up, ordered coffee, switched tables, scanned the room. He carried a book by C.S. Lewis but held it open in his hands and watched the door. She walked in ten minutes later and he stood and smiled but they didn’t hug. Good to meet you, face to face, this is so great.
She casually mentioned her church and he did, too. Then my friend had to leave so I was eavesdropping when he asked if she “was a theological person.” She said she was, at least more than the average person, and they spent an hour hashing Calvinism and salvation by grace and her reformed church and his Catholic background and homeschooling and their mission trips and whether or not short-term projects are helpful or absolutely futile.
I wanted to laugh so I bit my cheek because, after all, the day I met John we sat in a church foyer and talked for three hours about Bible college and church choirs and homeschooling versus public schools.
I was skeptical about the romance here, tonight, but an hour later there’s chemistry and they just set up a second date.
I live-tweeted the amusing first-date scene above. Follow me over there?