“The best lies about me are the ones I told.” – Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind.
Sunday, August 2, 2015, came like a dare.
I woke up that morning and stared at my ceiling, consumed with the enormity of even turning off my alarm to start the day. I lay there for a bit, telling myself that I didn’t have to do this, that I could say the conference was cancelled and we were getting our money back, or that I could just drive to my best friend and his wife’s house and stay there for a week.
But I got up, and I dragged myself to the shower, and I blow-dried my hair and put on sunscreen. I put on a little sundress, and then threw a maxi-dress on over that because my parents were around and would say goodbye before I left. Traditional Muslims believe you’re going to hell if you wear a knee-length dress or some shit, and I’m not one to rock the boat. I’d rather sneak out of the house in a mini-skirt like a 16yo than have any kind of prolonged interaction, much less confrontation, with them.
I said goodbye to my grandmother, who lives with us, and tried not to wince as she clutched me and said a bunch of prayers for my safety. Yeah, I trust AAA more than I do a bunch of guardian angels supposedly circling my car while I drive, but, hey, different strokes, I guess.
I said goodbye to my little brother, six years my junior and easily one of my favorite people on the planet. He was barely awake and just grunted in reply. I said goodbye to my dad, and then made my way to the kitchen, and the door to the garage, where my mother was.
She asked me to write down the name of the hotel I was staying at, which is ridiculous and an Old Person thing to do – who even calls the front desk anymore? I resisted and finally wrote something vague like Marriott Grand Rapids. She asked me when I’d arrive and to text her when I did, blah blah blah. Then she hugged me and told me “not to do anything unIslamic.”
Fuck that. That was the whole point of the trip!
I don’t know what made me do it, but I chose that moment to flip out. She had found a few wine bottles in my room the year before and had promptly taken to bed, like a dramatic heroine from a 1940s film, and took ill for a week from the shock of it or some bullshit. So then there were tears and arguments and her promise not to tell my dad if I quit, so obviously I pretended to have a Come to Muhammad moment and find religion again.
Obviously not. But we do what we have to do, especially if we are cowards.
I must have flipped out at her well enough for not trusting me, because she apologized and said she just worried, and then she wanted to take a picture of me before I left. Fine. I posed like a jackass, grabbed my carryon, and got the hell out of there.
Yeah, Ammi, I promise I won’t drink. For a week. At all the craft breweries that I have listed on the two page single-spaced itinerary I made for myself off the Michigan Craft Brewers’ Guild website. Uh-huh.