Love Is Not Tourism

Love Is Not Tourism is a global movement dedicated to raise awareness about long distance relationship couples and families separated by travel bans/border closures during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some couples had to wait for a long time before they were allowed to travel and reunite with their loved ones. As of today, some of them are still waiting.

Ahmed and I had to wait because we married during strict measures. But 2021 came full of hope for us so we would like to share some of it…

You can visit their website Love Is Not Tourism If you would like to share your success story or feel inspired by others, then you should check out The Love Visa.

My Egyptian Adventure: How It All Started

I’ve wanted to share all about my relationship for the longest time. But for some reason, this part of my life feels so special that I wasn’t ready yet. A lot of people had asked me a thousand questions since I came back from my trip to Egypt so I guess it was time I shared a little of it.

I met Ahmed back in 2019 on a dating website. But before you say anything , no, I wasn’t looking for love in all the wrong places. Someone suggested I check the website out and since I was single, why not look at some profiles? I got a message from that cute egyptian and soon enough we exchanged Instagram accounts. I have to tell you that it was a recipe for disaster: he was looking for something serious and I just wanted to meet people and make new friends, he’s all fit and I’m all fat. A few days and insults later, we decided to delete our dating profiles and give it a try. You can like someone because of their looks you know, but you fall in love with their soul and that’s what was happening to us. You can say we met each other by chance, but stayed together by fate.

He was everything I didn’t know I always wanted. We tried our best to get to know each other using every social and messaging app available to us and of course, we met each other’s parents via video call. Did I mention he was very serious about this relationship? As a heart attack. So it wasn’t a surprise that I wanted to impress him on Valentine’s Day (here’s how) and guess what? It worked! He asked me to marry him that day and I said yes without thinking about it twice. I was more than happy. We made it official the next month and that means we told our families. His family was very happy and supportive about it. Mine thought I had lost my mind. Maybe I did lost my mind for him?

A few weeks after that, the Covid 19 pandemic was announced and it felt like the whole world came to a halt. We saw our hope dwindle as airports and borders closed and traveling was restricted. We never stopped looking for options. Then my friend Sean suggested we get married online. Ahmed and I discussed the option for some time. He still jokes about it and tells me it was worse than a job interview. I mean, he was applying for the husband position after all! We married online on August 10, 2020. Yes ONLINE! Yes, legally. It was kind of a secret. I didn’t want my family to call me crazy until after I was married. To my surprise, they were ready to support me in my decision (after saying we were crazy of course). It took us around 4 months to certify, translate and legalize papers to have our marriage registered in both countries (US and Egypt).

Fast forward to February 2021 after months of texting, talking, video calling and sleeping together “on calls”, my brother took my son Jay and me to the airport. Ahmed and I were finally ready to start writing the next chapter of our love story in Egypt! Our journey to Cairo was a mini adventure… but that’s a story for another day.

Long distance relationships are not easy. Closing the distance takes time. So until then, we will keep writing the most beautiful love story. Our happily ever after.

Giby’s Misadventures…Now streaming.

I started this year thinking that it felt kinda like a trial subscription to a streaming service that you can’t cancel. Three months into it and I still ask myself “What will happen in today’s episode of Giby’s Misadventures?” I mean, last season in the show that is my life was incredible. It was full of unexpected things like making it through a pandemic (we’re still doing it) and getting married. Even I didn’t expected that one but turns out that it was the best decision of my life. Will tell you about it later.

I’m starting this season with a different cast. People who I thought would always be there for me left and others who left in the previous season came back. People I never gave a chance are now recurring characters in my show. Of course I’m always grateful to the ones who stay no matter what goes on in the show. I’ve made a few mistakes, I know, but I keep learning as the show goes on.

Contrary to a show you see on TV, There’s no pre-written script. There’s a lot of improvising going on. I’m learning that things don’t always go the way I plan them or the way I think they should. There are things that go wrong and I can’t always fix them. Sadly, some things have to stay broken even if I wasn’t the one who broke them. Turns out I don’t have an unlimited supply of props in this show.

I visited my husband in Egypt last month (Episode 2?) and I learned that you can actually forget about bad times for a while and keep looking for better ones as long as the people who love you are by your side. But that whole Egypt thing is a collection of stories that need some time to tell so I will be writing about it soon.

So stay tune for the next episode of Giby’s Misadventures. Now streaming on My So-Called Life.

Another Trip Around The Sun…

When I was a kid I loved celebrating my birthday. December came and it meant I would get like 3 gifts, one after the other, or one big expensive gift because my birthday, Christmas and Three Kings Day were weeks apart. But then as I grew up it became less exciting (even when I always bought something special for myself) and I would say that “after 25 you don’t celebrate your birthday, is more like you commemorate the day you were born, just another trip around the Sun”.

Fast forward some years and that trip around the Sun became the yearly reminder of everything I’ve failed at and what I couldn’t accomplish in “all my trips”. Today is no exception. I’m still thinking about getting a Chocolate Stampede like usual, because chocolate understands that everything changes but my life stays the same. At least that is how it feels after all these years. Sometimes I think that it’s too late for changes while other days, like today, I allow myself to dream.

“And in all the world, I see,
Man dreams whatever he be,
And his own dream no man knows.
What is life? a tale that is told;
What is life? a frenzy extreme,
A shadow of things that seem;
And the greatest good is but small,
That all life is a dream to all,
And that dreams themselves are a dream.”

Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Today I want to think that life is but a dream, in which we are all dreaming of who we are and what we can be. Will you dream with me?

Always Something To Be Thankful for…

This has been a challenging year and it isn’t over yet. In spite of everything that might be going on in our lives, global pandemic included, there’s always a reason (or a few) to be thankful. We have seen how our whole lives can change in a second and we wouldn’t even know that it’s coming. Before, we thought we knew what kind of world this is, but after, everything was different for a lot of us. Not bad, maybe, not always, but different forever.

Each of us has a journey. The destination may change for some of us but we are always on the road. Sometimes is not the destination that gives us happiness but the road traveled and the people who accompany us in our journey. Today I am thankful for all the people in my life. The ones that are still here (you are blessings) and the ones who aren’t anymore (lessons) because they left me with experiences that shaped my life in some way.

Thankful for the people helping me write the story of my life…my family by blood and the family I chose by love (you know who you are). It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a page or a chapter… let’s keep writing a masterpiece. Last but not least, I should thank the universe for a special person who decided to make our journeys one for us to share. The rest of my life will not be enough to build beautiful things that will last forever.

For the brave people who decided to love me…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Hold On…Before It’s Too Late (Stay – version 2.0)

Sometimes we write the words we wish to hear. Because I know how it is for your soul to be tired. Tired of living the same day over and over again because every day is a repetition of the one before. So predictable, it actually hurts. Four letters in my mind: SSDD (same shit, different day – Stephen King described it perfectly in his book Dreamcatcher). People who can’t understand our feelings will give us detailed instructions on how to change our lives. It isn’t so easy for us,  the ones living the life others say is so easy to change. We don’t need instructions. It isn’t like we don’t try. It feels more like we’ve spent our whole lives trying and it becomes a race without a finish line, with no real way to win so we can finally say “I’m here, I made it, this is the life I always wanted”.

I know the feeling of wanting to disconnect yourself from the rest of the world or maybe just disappear for a while. After constant reminders of how you are not good enough you start to feel that it must be true, because after all, you’ve always felt like you don’t belong. So you wish you can just leave everything and everyone for a while, knowing they might not be there when and if you come back; of course you try to stay for as long as you can. A little support would be a lifesaver at this point but how to explain, how to talk about the secrets you don’t want to say? But we do, we stay… each time for a little longer because it is expected. We are adults. Maybe we stay because there is someone who will miss us or maybe because there is someone we always miss?

I’m scared that someday I will not find the courage to stay when all I want to do is to escape. Though sometimes late…I have to say it to myself: STAY. Stay because you’re missed. Stay because you are loved. Stay because life goes on and he makes it worth staying every day. Stay even when it’s taking a little bit more time to change; but sometimes what we are doing is changing the life of someone else. Whatever you do, know that there are people who want to understand… that they can’t live without you, and you don’t want to live without them. So Please, STAY.

The Problem With (My) Love

After I wrote my previous post I couldn’t help overthinking about it. That is what I do, I overthink everything. I thought that I hated being in love. But not really, I just think I idealize love too much. When I’m in love I always want to be the best version of me. I always want to build something perfect that doesn’t exist. It can’t exist, nothing is perfect. I always see how to be better and of course, not everyone sees the same, not everyone is the same. Other people don’t always see it. If they are content with what they have then they won’t feel the need to be better.

When it comes to me, I’m always thinking of giving and not about what I can or should get in return. Always thinking of how can I make someone else happy all the time; to be a better partner, to do things the best I can so we can have a “better” (perfect?) relationship. Then I ask myself why I do all of that if I’m not getting the same effort in return. That’s when all the overthinking takes the stage… I think about how most of people put a lot of effort to get what they want. Once they have it? Why put so much effort on it? But me… I put on a little effort in the beginning and see if things are going to work. If I see it blossoming into something beautiful, then I put the effort into nourishing it, keeping it and making it the best it can possibly be.

That is how I know the problem is me. I get disappointed even when I know things will not always be 100/100. Relationships doesn’t work like that, we have to be prepared to give 80 in a day when the other person is feeling like 20 and whoever tells you they are supposed to be 50/50 they are lying. But I can see how efforts are not always equal and sometimes is not because they don’t want to, is because they don’t know how to. So I break my own heart. Not the other person but me, I’m the one who breaks my heart with expectations that can’t be real.

Now I’m at the point where I started to question if I was sabotaging my relationships. If I’m giving too much importance to things that can’t be changed (could they?). And I cry every night that I (over) think about all of this because I feel sad and of course, no one can see a reason why I should be. Maybe I don’t know how to balance my feelings.

After saying all of that, maybe I can get to the conclusion that I’m my own worst enemy. Someone told me I was asking too much of myself and expecting perfection. I said that I’m always thinking about how to fix everything and making it better. Not everything can be fixed? well in my mind, it can. So maybe all I have to do is fix myself?

The Little Box Of Horrors I Keep

I have been revisiting old posts lately. In part I guess it is because they are still relevant; they still describe how I feel today. If they are still relevant, then it means that in some way, I haven’t been able to “fix myself” or maybe there are a lot of questions, doubts or fears.

Maybe this is the reason why I still keep my little box of horrors…

There is a box hidden inside the darkest corners of my mind. It will keep safe what we have, will keep our relationship from breaking apart. You see what I most fear is that time will change what we feel. So I go there once in while to put all my bad thoughts inside. Stored away in that dark space are all the doubts that I have. When the trust tries to go away I lock those thoughts inside that place. Jealousy and anger are there too, all part of a time bomb I’m scared it could explode soon. I’m trying to put away my expectations because not everyone will make the same efforts. Now as I watch from afar with a glass of wine in my hand as the only witness to my crimes…trying to keep my insecurities locked inside so my relationship can last. A final toast to everything inside:

For all the things you didn’t see. The messages, love letters and text you won’t get but I wrote them anyway, they got deleted before I could push send. All the things we won’t share; the thoughts, the words, calls, dates, special days. I’m honestly hoping you will care.
All the things you forgot, some promises you broke. The written pages, quotes collected, Pinterest boards created but you won’t get them. The social apps we couldn’t share, no reason now to be hiding out there.
Chances missed, opportunities not taken. Pictures never shown of things and places; a world we could’ve shared but we missed it. All we can still learn or teach the other. Now I wonder why we never take the time for it.
The heart shouldn’t know about distance. I don’t want to give up on all I’m  feeling, trying to keep it away and hidden because I am afraid of all of it fading.
For all the times I’ve tried. I learned the drill: get angry, argue, forgive and try, try, try. All the times I cried because I couldn’t say I wasn’t alright. I never want to make you angry because I care about details in our lives.
For the times I felt neglected. I’m tired of  repeating how to fix it. The secrets, the questions, the plans to build our forever. Because we should start now to make it simple later. every day I hope you understand and start making changes.
I will drink to that and more to come, because I decided to put it all in The Box.

Now that all is done I will leave a note on top of the box. It will serve as a reminder for next time I’m here, to decide if it’s worth it to hide my fears. Remember this was me trying to make this work while waiting for you to play along… “SHE OFFERED YOU THE WORLD HOPING YOU CHOSE HER INSTEAD”.

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Love Note #6

You deserve someone who gives stability to your life, with whom you can go to sleep without having to ask yourself if they will love you tomorrow or not (but of course I will, for the rest of our lives together). Someone who would rather give up on being proud than give up on you ( I will never give up on us). Someone who makes you a priority and not an option, who gives you the place you deserve in their life. Why? Because you deserve love, honesty and respect. Love shouldn’t be a multiple answer question… loving should be your only choice.

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Love of Mine

Few days ago I stumbled upon a video by motivational speaker Daniel Habif and what it said resonated with me. It reminded me of the importance of giving priority and attention to your partner in a relationship. A lot of relationships “go cold” because we make a simple mistake: we stop giving the same attention, priority and details once the courtship phase is over and  “we are sure” we have the other person. I watched the video a few times and spent quite an amount of time writing what it said in English, so I could send it to my S/O. I shared it with him not because I though he was failing at it, but because I want to build the best relationship possible with him. One in which both can feel that we are taking care of each other and giving the other the love we deserve.

Because of this, I wanted to share the part that captivated my attention the most and really touched my soul. I hope it talks to you in the same way it talked to me.

“For me it’s about winning her over 31 times a day, a month. This requires commitment, focus, art. This is about that if life goes round, you go around with her. It’s about her always being on your priority list, it’s about her being the responsible of your “what do I wear today?” It’s about praying together, it’s about being three: God, her and you. It’s about you getting lost, to find yourself in her, it’s about who you are, for her to be. It’s about making her laugh and that you’re the one who ends up melting with her laughter.

Stay with whoever makes space for you in her/his life, because in her/his bed … any stupid one does. It’s about not falling in love with the white dress, neither of the wedding, nor the ring, nor of the house. It’s not about looking for restaurants with stars and VIP lounges, it’s about your best neckline, being your brain. It’s about not wanting to change the other and the other for that very reason decides to change everything for you. It’s about that in a sick world, she is your medicine! It’s about you losing, so that the marriage wins. Many, many say that if you love something, you should let it go. Please! Only a coward would let go of something he loves and does not fight for it. If you do not get it, at least you will know that you gave your life for something higher than you: LOVE. If the gold gets oxidized, it was not gold. If love ends, it’s not love.

And please! Learn this darling: not because you have reached at the end or in the last place to someone’s heart, this does not mean that you are the least important. For me this means, that all the previous ones were not important enough to stay forever. There are those who look for their better half to complete his lost half, but there are some others, that we are looking for a complete person to make orangeade together… for our lifetime.”

– Daniel Habif

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