Recently, a friend of mine made the hard decision to leave Egypt. She would be leaving the place she's made into a home for the last three years. She would also be leaving a man she's come to love. Basically, she's changed her whole life because she fell in love with an Egyptian.
Men! They certainly do pull us women. We love to feel needed by a man. Our whole view of reality seems to change incrementally as we get closer to that testosterone.
For me, there's a moment I keep in my mind in order to keep my life in perspective. I was attending my first wedding party in Egypt. It was a big affair in a rooftop party room. Every cousin in my husband's family was there and so were two Americans. Americans?!
Yes, two American women were hanging out at the wedding too. Of course, with me being who I am, I had to walk over and find out who they were. Turns out that they were just visiting Egypt when they met cousin Amr. He bumped into them on the street.
If you know the tourist business at all, then you know that no one bumps into anyone. It's all carefully planned helpfulness. They didn't know that. Those two ladies on break from their medical studies were very book smart but not very street smart.
We talked over the huge journey they'd been on. They'd seen so much and done so much. They had traveled more of Egypt than I had. So, I wanted to ask, "What was the best part?"
That was a shocker. I found that answer to be very sad. These two women had planned and scrimped and saved to make this trip. They'd seen the Pyramids, the Nile, and the King Tut jewels. They'd ridden a camel, eaten grilled chicken under palm trees and swam in the Red Sea. Their entire itinerary crossed my mind and I had to double-check so I asked, "Meeting Amr?"
"Yes, it was such an unexpected surprise!" Blurted out the one woman who seemed more interested in Amr than the other.
I stifled the urge to add, "Only to you! He talks to tourists every day!"
They were blissfully unaware and happy. So, I warned them not to drink from the bottles of tap water masquerading as bottled water on the center of every table. They nodded thankfully and I walked away. I had kept them safe from one danger at least.
I have no idea what the end to their adventure was. I never asked cousin Amr. He stopped by the other day and I heard his loud voice float up the stairs. I'm sure he's a nice guy. He was an opportunist then, but with very few tourists these days, I wonder who he talks to now.
The story of Amr's tourist women has stayed with me in a sad, cautionary way. I don't want to be the woman who sees the whole wonderful world but is cheered the most by a rather ordinary man. I want to be fulfilled by my life adventure and not get so side-tracked by a man that I forget my purpose in being here. I am enough and my story is enough without a man.
That doesn't mean that I don't like my man; I do like him! I even love him (when he's lovable). However, he is not the reason for my being in Egypt---he never was and he never will be. I came here on hijrah in order to be closer to my faith. My priority needs to remain my journey and not my man.
It isn't very romantic to love God more than your man. It's horribly unromantic to love yourself more than your guy. Yet, it's real and honest. We need to be mature women standing firmly on the ground instead of being girls getting swept off our feet by crazy love and infatuation.
My friend will be leaving her man in Egypt and I think it's a great decision. They never married. They've had their time and it's not going any where beyond this moment. A moment does not a life make. She needs to build her life for the very real future. He's not about the future; he's going to be pulling her down to stay stuck in the "now".
Let's love our times with our men but not above our sensibilities. We deserve our lives more than they do. Remembering, of course, that our lives are here for us to serve Allah Subhana Wa Tala.