As I learn to navigate roads that grow more familiar with each visit, I realize that I spent most of my life running away from the ugly truths shaping my reality.
The landscape of the sand sea emerges as I drive down the bridge. The lack of dunes removes the possibility of curiously admiring the desert’s beautiful shapes and distracting me from my unwanted thoughts and realizations.
When the water surrounding the erg comes into view, I remember that this is an island, and people here truly live on islands of different sorts.
I, too, am guilty of living on one of my own. Just as I venture out at night to avoid the desert’s scorching heat, I visit certain spots and speak to a specific type of people. I can view the world from all kinds of lenses except for the one I’m expected to wear. I’ve been living in complete denial of the world existing around me.
In my pursuit of an alternate reality, I had countless chances to live, learn, and mingle. I met people and tried to walk in their shoes.
None fit me perfectly, but they shaped who I am.
It was pure luck that brought them my way. Few people live as I do, and I often wonder how my destiny works against fate. Nothing in my life is ever thought-out, planned, or calculated. I go with the flow of things, allow chances to find me, and they present themselves to me like gifts on Christmas Eve.
Most of the time, I think it’s God trying to achieve some balance in my life, to overcompensate for the pain I endured, though never asked for. For all that unnecessary hurt, God might’ve thrown a few adventures my way. Ones I also haven’t ask for, but still welcomed.
Being the curious chronic over committer that I am, I jumped headfirst into every chance to live life differently, including those that made my stomach twist in discomfort and my heart cry in fear. I tried to surf every dune before the storm took over.
But, as we travel through time, often unnoticeably, we age, grow out of old habits, and into new ones. Our minds become sharper, and our hearts fiercer. My ventures featured several ups and downs, sharp learning curves, and mountains of lessons I carry around. Now, I think twice about where I want to spend my time and with whom, but one thing that hasn’t changed is my rejection of reality.
Perhaps, I am curious about other worlds to distract myself from mine. Tonight, I question my intentions; was I working towards the person I want to be, or was I avoiding who I am because carrying the weight of a name I didn’t choose lays heavy on me?
I wish a name is just that, but it’s not. A name is stubborn habits, learned behavior, and internalized ideals. It’s a geographical location, an inheritance, and a reputation. To me, it’s broken homes, backward traditions, and chaos.
I grew up questioning everything. I was a curious child, but my questions were left unanswered. Usually, they were followed by a beating or an unforgiving scolding.
To avoid the harshness of it all, I stopped voicing my questions, but while I was in elementary school, my mother purchased a bulky computer with an enormous external drive. I learned how to use it, and soon after, I was typing my questions on magical sites named google and yahoo.
The answers I found and the perspectives I discovered popped my bubbles. The internet was a portal to different realities, and I was no longer comfortable in my little world.
After a careful examination of my surroundings, and with this new insight into the future possibilities I may have as a woman from a conservative Arab-Muslim family, I decided that the only way to maintain happiness is to create another world.
I wished to escape the present, but I also wanted to decrease the probability of replicating such an environment in my future. I was too young to comprehend what I was doing, but I had a great understanding of my world, which was enough for me.
But today, as I am driving away after overhearing conversations about the chaos I run away from every day, I found a calamity in it. It’s familiar. The disturbances make this island feel like home.
I can’t recognize if this is progress or regression, but I can accept all the things I reject to have in my future, not as part of my future, but as part of the present lives of those around me.
I’m lucky, aren’t I?
Life placed me in a unique situation, and through a series of unfortunate events, I explored the world alongside people from all walks of life. I was allowed to dance with the devil and choose whether I want hell or heaven.