"You don't look Arabic." I hear it on dates, and from colleagues.
I'm quick to correct them: "I don't look like an Arab or Middle Eastern; Arabic is a language."
However they phrase it, they are mostly right. My Palestinian father's dark eyes, hair and skin aren't reflected much in me. I have my mother's pale skin, my maternal grandfather's blue eyes. Starbucks baristas and Uber drivers constantly tell me, sometimes more subtly than others, that there is a disconnect between my face and my name.
I feel it less frequently but more viscerally at airports.
At brunch last Sunday one of my closest friends was gushing over a guy he met out. His suitor is smart, handsome, employed, rents to own, and has a shared penchant for pizza at 3 a.m. After listing his suitor’s “teen-dream traits,” my friend qualified that there’s one problem: Prince Charming came out only a few months ago, at 28. This red flag waves especially crimson to my friend, who came out when he was 16.
There are real challenges in dating someone who only recently left the closet. Sometimes a recently out man falls into “repeated adolescence,” where he jumps from bed to bed and collects hearts. Other times he’s so desperate for his first same-sex relationship that he rushes into one. On top of that, there are serious conversations that need to happen with frequency; there are awkward things to learn that span new bars and new sexual positions — sometimes even new cuts of jeans. But beyond the psychological struggles and sharp learning curve, there is a stigma attached to “late bloomers”: their choice is almost universally attributed to weakness.
We're obsessed with fitting the intricacies of our lives into the literary molds we learned in middle school. Our lives are cyclical, they follow an arc. That's what I was thinking when I fed you the last chocolate muffin. I leaned over you and watched you chew horizontally with your eyes closed. You sucked out the flavor and pulled at the chocolate chips with the inside of your cheeks. "Is that good?" I squeezed your hand - bone and tissue paper. "Does the muffin taste good?" You nodded and I pressed the straw between your cracked lips. Milk slipped out the corners of your mouth and fell away. "You want more?"
I wanted to ask what was happening, What happens while you're waiting to die?