I couldn’t tell who or what was inside when the door opened. I only saw a big silhouette, which seemed to be Nadia’s father or uncle (both of whom I was familiar with). I said “Hey!” and stepped through the threshold. Once I was inside and my eyes adjusted to the light, I saw an ocean of eyes staring at me. Apparently, the whole family was gathered in the living room and had just finished praying when I knocked on the door. A very convenient, or inconvenient, moment. Everyone was looking at me with a puzzled expression. Almost nobody had any idea of who I was. There was an awkward moment of silence, which seemed to last a lifetime. Finally, Nadia’s aunt who knew me, introduced me to everyone as her son’s friend.
A murmur of greetings went through the crowd and I responded with “Hello.” As everyone turned away and went on with their business, I noticed that the person standing at the door, the one who opened it for me, was neither Nadia’s father nor her uncle. It was her cousin-in-law, as I would later find out. We exchanged greetings with him and I began to take off my shoes. Then, as if out of nowhere, Nadia appeared next to me. As I took off my jacket, I presented her with the gummy bears that I brought for her. Right away, she was excited to open and eat them. Then, we went on to join the festivities.
We spent the rest of the day together. Of course, everyone could tell that I was not only her cousin’s friend so, after we ate, we began to go around and Nadia introduced me to everyone in person as her boyfriend. I spoke a little here and there with some of her family members, but mostly I was with Nadia and her cousin (my friend). We had a grand time! There was great food and good company to go with it. Music and singing, laughter, intriguing stories, games, and more food.
As the night wore on, the number of guests slowly dwindled. Soon it was just me, Nadia and her parents, her aunt and uncle, and another one of her aunts (as well as Nadia’s younger siblings and one of her cousins). We were sitting in the living room and the married couples were sharing their stories – how they met, how they got engaged, and how they were married.
As I listened, I thought about Nadia and our relationship. I thought about everything that had happened between us. About the way we met, and everything that followed in the several weeks after that. I considered the decision that I had already made in my mind and heart, and wondered whether now was the time to share it with Nadia. I certainly wanted to. It took every ounce of energy that I had not to lean over and whisper it in her ear. I wanted to shout it at the top of my lungs. I wanted to tell her of everything I felt, and of every decision I made. But I sat quietly and listened to the stories being told. All the while, these thoughts circled around in my mind.
Soon it was getting late, and time for me to go home. Nadia came outside with me to say goodbye. We walked over to my car and I started the engine to warm up while we talked. Nadia was beautiful. To be frank, I don’t remember much of what I said. All I know is that I spoke while staring into her big blue eyes. They were as deep as an ocean, and I was ready to dive in head first.
There can be moments in a man’s life when there is a hurricane of emotion within his heart. When he is elated and feels as though he is soaring through the sky; but, his mind is not clouded and his judgment is not compromised. A moment when he is not led by his emotions, but rather his decisions drive his emotions. When he is intentional, decisive, and determined.
This was such a moment. I stopped debating within whether I should share my feelings and decision or not yet. I realized that there was no reason to wait any longer. I’ve seen everything that I needed to see and learned everything I needed to learn about Nadia and her family. I made my decision, thought and prayed about it, and proved it to myself. Now it was time to tell Nadia. I took a deep breath, looked straight into her eyes, gathered up my courage, and said “I love you.”