The Pull of a Muslim Boy

[Exercise: Even if you’re happily married now, tell us about that man or woman or that old lover you can’t get off your mind. What’s the pull?]

I can think of one in particular: an exotic Muslim boy—part Palestinian, part Syrian—I met while studying in England. During the short time we dated, he did what he could to make me feel special. He looked at me often, with tenderness, and a respectful, non-ravenous longing. Ravenous, coming from him, would have pushed me away. I believe he sensed my unspoken resistance; he was sensitive that way. He bought me expensive perfume for my birthday, took me to London to meet his elegant mother and charming father. In his bedroom, he showed me pictures of himself as a child and let me keep a snapshot I adored—one of him smiling. I returned to the States before my infatuation could develop into a more permanent situation. The pull now, the fantasy perhaps, is what it would have been like to be married to such a man: a man married to family married to culture married to cause—a cause much greater than any bond a man could have with a woman. I imagine me, as I know myself—a rebel who fights when she feels trapped, instigates when she detects fear, who lights the match that burns the fire that tears down the house that destroys the town and her people—and I wonder who would have been left standing.