When people ask us how my husband and I met, one of us always starts the story with “He is my brother’s best friend / I am her brother's best friend.” It makes for a rather dramatic beginning; it always elicits either an “Aww …” from the ladies or a “Wow!” from the gentlemen. But in any case it is rather sweet: my brother did introduce us, but only because he dragged me to a get-together instead of leaving me at home to mope.
You see, my family and I (mom and dad, two younger brothers) had immigrated to Canada from the United Arab Emirates in and three months later lost our mother to liver cancer. Unfamiliar and overwhelmed does not even begin to describe how we felt. Numb might have been closer. Both my brothers were fortunate enough to have already been enrolled at Ryerson University, so had some kind of life and routine to go back to. I had already graduated from college in the Middle East, and was trying to decide whether to look for a job in the new country or apply to graduate school. I had also recently broken up with the man I had wanted to marry (his mother was a tad bit unsympathetic to my loss and a little rude to my family, and he blamed me for the situation), so I was a little lost in what to do and scared because of all the changes. I got stuck staying at home for most days, immersing myself in books, TV, cooking and cleaning. Obviously, both my brothers got sick of me sitting at home and dragged me out one night to their weekly meet-ups with their friend Dave.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw Dave: tall and slender, wearing an oversized ratty black leather jacket (he still has it – its more ratty looking than ever) walking towards us at the Union train station in Toronto. When he saw me with the two guys he was expecting to meet, he stopped short so suddenly I thought there was an invisible wall directly in front of him. He later told me that he was stunned to see a girl with the guys and thought I was girlfriend instead of the sister.
From that point on, Dave perused me with respect, ardor, passion, awkwardness and school-boyish charm. There was very little subtlety but only because he meant for me to know that I was the one valued and desired. We became a couple within a year of meeting and becoming very good friends (after the requisite best friend permission, which I found out about many moons later), and had a long distance relationship for nearly four years, as David moved back to Massachusetts to finish his Biotechnology degree at UMass Boston and I moved to Windsor to earn my MBA. The rest is almost straightforward – we both graduated from our respective universities, got married (I moved to Massachusetts to be with him) and we now have two adorable and mischievous boys. Our life is filled with little people, diaper changes, clutter, tantrums, preschool and Dora the Explorer. Plus a four year-old’s burning desire to play drums and football and watch mommy put on makeup.
Nothing makes us very special in the grand scheme of things; but I do notice we still get second glances a lot of the time. David is a Catholic of Irish-Welsh-Scottish and I am a Naturalized Canadian of Pakistani descent, a Muslim who grew up in the Middle East. Ours was not a melodramatic story, but it was unusual in its ethnicity, and particularly in its combination. There are a number of Pakistani men married to western women, but I don’t know of many Pakistani women married to western men; and a Muslim woman married to a Catholic, although not unheard-off, is still unusual. I never thought I’d fall in love with someone who was so completely outside of my sphere, but it goes to show that even an American and a Pakistani can share a love of French music and Greek mythology. We’ve been together 12 years and have been married for 7 of them and now have 2 children. And every day, I cannot imagine not being with him.
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