"Are you against marriage?" he asked me. "Because a lot of people here seem very against marriage."
I thought about it, and attempted to explain myself. "It's not that I'm against marriage... it's just that I don't require marriage. I don't want to get married just for the sake of getting married. I want to, but only if I find the right guy."
I babbled further. "I would love to fall in love. I would love to grow old with somebody I care about. But I don't need it. I can take care of myself if necessary, and I'm prepared to live my life as a single person if I don't find the right guy."
I felt almost embarrassed, using that word. Love. I know that in Islamic cultures that is not really a consideration. He went on to say nearly as much. But he didn't disparage the concept of love: he just said it was not a factor. "You look for people who are compatible with you, social and income, in my culture," he said.
I wanted to ask if he was in love with his wife. But I didn't quite dare. Instead, I asked how they had met. They met at work. "But we could not just go on a date, like you might here. That would be inappropriate. For a man and a woman to spend time together without being married. She would be disgraced."
I started the above post a week ago, and just never finished it. I wanted to, but of course the details of the conversation grew fuzzier and fuzzier. And the conclusions I drew are less and less remembered. It doesn't help that I left my power cord in the office, so I can't even type long....
But still, I'd like to finish off this draft as best as I can -- so I'll skip to the end.
The conversation concluded with my explaining to him that I don't NEED a husband. If I find somebody who can enhance my life, that would be wonderful -- but I can take care of myself.
"No, I disagree. That is not true," he told me. At my offended frown he elaborated, "What if you get sick?"
"That's what doctors are for."
"But what if it is four o'clock in the morning, and you need somebody to take you to the doctor, or help you?"
"Well... there are ambulances if it's an emergency. But more importantly, that's what friends are for."
"How can expect that they will help you? Why would your friends take time out of their lives for you?"
I paused. I couldn't quite explain why, but I knew. There are a few friends that I know I could call, even at four AM. If I needed somebody, they would be there. "That's what friends are for," I repeated lamely.
Then as I thought about it, it became clearer. "I think it's precisely because there are so many of us now who are single adults. We're all in the same boat. Our friends, especially single friends, become our family. They fill in those gaps that would traditionally be served by a spouse. We look out for each other. I can call them, because they can call me. We take care of each other; we're family."