Dating : A Different Kind of Freedom

h2>Dating : A Different Kind of Freedom

“How is Yousef?” my mother yelled over the phone.

She did this often, as did the rest of my overseas family, projecting their voices as if they were literally screaming across the Atlantic Ocean to be heard by me in our tiny San Francisco apartment.

“He’s doing very good,” I responded.

“Am I going to be a grandmother soon?” she continued.

I paused, not knowing quite what to say.

“Aadila,” she screamed, likely assuming I couldn’t hear her.

Probably not, unless Yousef and I get wildly drunk and make the sacrifice of getting physical with the gender we have absolutely zero interest in.

“We’re still getting settled Ami,” I responded, “Okay, I have to go now. It’s time for work.”

“Okay, Aadi. Please remember to send money this month. Your sister’s wedding arrangements are really costing us a fortune.”

“I will. I promise.”

Yousef walked out of the bathroom, toweling his wet hair.

“Mom?” he asked.

I shook my head. “She wants us to have kids.”

He laughed and walked over. Putting both his hands on my shoulders, he looked at me. “Dilly, don’t let them pressure you. You’re thousands of miles and a literal ocean away. You’re free now.”

I wished I could tell him that marrying my gay childhood friend wasn’t my idea of freedom. Living my own lie wasn’t my idea of freedom.

We were sixteen when I confirmed that Yousef had no interest in girls. Of course, I had my theory, but there was no solid evidence until I had inadvertently walked in on him kissing another male friend of ours. He was so scared I would leak his darkest secret, that I confessed my own to calm him down.

“I like girls.”

“But I’ve never seen you with a girl.”

“That’s because I don’t want to get caught.”

“So, how do you know if you’ve never been with one.”

“Trust me, Yousef. I know.” I had held his gaze, hoping to show him my conviction. I did know. I was sure of the truth that had been gnawing at my stomach for years at that point.

He had smiled at me. “That’s fair.”

Ten years later, Yousef had approached me with a plan. He was already in America with his citizenship, and he knew his parents would disown him if they ever discovered his romantic proclivity.

The two of us could get married. Two birds one stone. My parents would have to let me come to America to be with my husband, and, here, I was far enough away that I could date women without being caught.

Whenever I contemplated the consequences of real freedom, I always realized Yousef was right. This was the only freedom available to us, and we were lucky to have a chance at it. There were several others who weren’t far enough away to lie without the likelihood of getting found out.

“This is what we have to do,” I said to him as he dressed for work.

“This is what we have to do,” he repeated.

“Okay listen. I’m going to stay at Amir’s apartment tonight. If you need anything, call me on my cell or get in touch with him.”

“Sounds good.” I didn’t want to let him know that sleeping alone in our home made me a nervous wreck. I was so accustomed to a life of too many people around. Now, there was just Yousef, and when he decided to spend the night with Amir, there was just me.

He had already done so much for me, couldn’t I do everything in my power to support his relationship?

And anyway, my loneliness was my own problem to solve.

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