It's funny the things that I remember from those years. Memories get a little hazy over time, but some things I remember very clearly. The other day, I was washing dishes and flashing back to the day that M flew to Pakistan. I had that first immigration package all signed and copied and ready to go. I was so excited, that I carried it away from the airport with me knowing that as soon as I got into the US I would mail it.
I felt so independent staying in a hotel alone the night after I dropped him off. . . .I got up the next morning in this teeny tiny town determined to find a post office to mail it from. I had asked directions and smiled the whole time I walked around half-lost thinking that this one day of extra time was going to make things faster than waiting to mail it tomorrow when I got home. Even then I had this strange feeling that something was not right. . .but I had no idea what was in store for us.
I had no idea what I was getting into trying to "live" with hubby in his little apartment. Okay, my husband is Muslim (*gasp*) and I am not, at all. M's apartment was right across the street from the local mosque, not just the local mosque, the regional mosque, the biggest one in the province. It was a mostly Pakistani mosque with a large Egyptian and small Arab population. On Fridays and Sundays the streets were especially full, but it was pretty busy every day, all day. At any time you could find bearded and robed men seated on the front steps, often having heated discussions, about what I will never know, they were always in Arabic or one of a variety of South Asian dialects.
If you think the white girl gets stared at while travelling in Pakistan or Egypt or wherever, that is nothing compared to the white girl who suddenly appears with the Muslim who lives across the street from the mosque. Not just any Muslim who lives across the street from the mosque. . .the muslim who has attended this moque for more than eight years and knows EVERYONE, but refuses to talk about . . . the white girl.
Because the mosque had refused to perform our marriage, they somehow got the impression that we just didn't get married, and this made things all the worse. There were members who would follow us down the street staring at us, people who would sit across from us at the restaurant and stare at us and people who only stared at us as we walked in and out of the building. One guy was so obvious that I walked backwards down the street so that I too could stare at him. Once, M got so angry that he had to talk to one man in our favorite restaurant, and he stopped.
It was bad enough that we got reports from two of our closest friends about conversations they had with members of the mosque where they had to "defend" us by testifying on the validity of our marriage. One particularly nasty neighbor made claims to THE IMAM of the mosque about our "illegal" acts. . . those of a marital nature. The stress level in our house was pretty high with all of these stories. I thought they were funny, but M was a lot more sensitive about it. He was the one who had to be questioned and confronted about it in a place, the mosque, that he had once considered a peaceful and safe place to go.
Everything culminated into one big fight wherein M did something really, really stupid. I will not post it here, but I was angry enough to make a complete fool of myself in a manner loud enough to be heard by the entire building where we were living. . .this is not saying much, since I could always hear the kids upstairs rolling in an office chair and was a party to every phone conversation the Egyptian next door ever had. . .but it was loud enough that when we were finished I walked outside to find my car, egged.