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…
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
There’s so much in my mind all the time, but words don’t linger enough in our minds and heart to keep them for a long time. Little love notes help me keep track of everything I wish I could say but I choose not to. Love can be so overwhelming at times, it’s one of the feelings that I can hardly manage and keep under control all the time. What can I do? I’m a hopeless romantic.
Sometimes it feels like floating in an endless ocean with soft waves carrying me effortlessly all the way to you. Why today it feels like I’m drowning? I don’t even make an effort to go back to shore… So I let myself drift away farther and farther away from myself and all the way to you. Music plays in my head, I can hear Blue October as the sound gets lost inside my head…
“Sometimes it feels just like I’m falling in the ocean
Let the waves up and take me down
Let the hurricane set in motion
Let the rain of what I feel right now come down
Let the rain come down”
When I first read what the character Rose Walker said in The Sandman (by Neil Gaiman) I couldn’t believe that it was describing exactly what I’ve always felt about love. The truth is that I’ve always been scared of it. Maybe not scared about love… maybe what scares me is the possibility of it ending and dealing with what happens next.
Sounds funny because I went through it some time ago and the possibility of meeting someone and falling for them made me want to remind myself that I couldn’t do it all over again.
The problem most of the time is that while there are some of us who fall in love “for real”, there are others who only fall in love with the idea of it. This happens a lot when you meet someone “online” or “long distance”. You put a lot of effort into getting to know this person only to realize that your effort is not being reciprocated. Instead, they fall in love with the idea of having someone to send a few messages, call once a few days and say how much they “love” and “miss” the other person. After a while, when the person gets tired of “playing relationship” or doesn’t get what he/she wants, they leave breaking the other person’s heart in the process. They never worked to build something real.
But can we break our own heart with ideas and false expectations? the answer is yes, we can. We fall in love with potential, with what it could be, with what if… that’s when we give them a piece of ourselves, taking a piece of our souls when they leave us. Love does take hostages. We stop being ourselves; if we are not careful we start living for someone else. That’s when and why we hate love sometimes, yet we crave it.
In spite of all risks we choose to love. Someone once told me that the heart has reasons that the mind doesn’t know. We are afraid to be hurt yes but we build our defenses with windows so we can see what’s out there and give us one more chance. Always one more. We are afraid of having to explains our relationships and reasons to others, how we met and where. Afraid of what to do if it ends cause it’s like the song 50 Ways To Say Goodbye by Train, trying to explain why the other person is not with us anymore or why it didn’t work and we end up feeling not only broken but stupid about it. In my opinion, we have the wrong mindset. We should worry about building something real with a person who has more than just ideas. In the end, knowing the difference between what you wish it was, what you think you have and what really is will save you a lot of heartache.
This might come a bit late but I had a hard time deciding if I should write about my little Valentine’s Day project or leave as it was, a gift I sent directly to the one who has an apartment in the condo of my heart.
A week before Valentin’s Day, I decided that as a VDay gift I would show Ahmed how far love can travel. I used social media to ask people all around the world to help me by writing a little note on a piece of paper or card and taking a picture of it with a background of something or somewhere that represented the country they were in. i gave an example and two messages to choose from.
With a little help from some people in different parts of the globe, I was able to show Ahmed that the heart doesn’t know bout distance and that love can reach anywhere when we want to share it with someone special to us. Even when I didn’t expect it to be possible for him to take residence in my heart.
In the end, I decided to share it because it’s only fair that I give Ahmed the place he deserves in my life when his family and him has given me a space in theirs. It’s up to him if he wants to do the same…