Since yesterday's post was on the trials of getting residency for a foreign spouse, I thought I'd tell the story of how I ended up with said foreign spouse.
After leaving Swaziland, in Fall 2011, I went on a six-month backpacking trip of Africa and Europe. Morocco was definitely on my agenda, as years before, I thought I might be going there for Peace Corps before I found out I was going to Swaziland instead.
My second week there, I was in Marrakech when a handsome young man with a great smile approached me. He worked for a tour agency, and upon finding out that I was American, invited me to a cafe to chat. He had a tourist visa for the US and was thinking about going within the next year and wanted the perspective of someone from there.
We chatted for about an hour and then parted for the night, but he told me he would be outside his office the next evening. I went there the next night but didn't see him. Apparently he did see me from the upper window; however he wasn't sure if I was looking for him or just passing through. I went about my evening, but I was disappointed not to see this charming stranger again, so I wandered back to his office a few hours later and there he was.
We spent a good chunk of the weekend together and he asked me to stay longer, but after 2.5 years in a landlocked country, I was aching to spend some time by the seaside. I bid him farewell and headed to Essouria, a hippie town on the Atlantic coast. A few days later, he called to say he was dropping off another backpacker for the weekend and asked if he could see me again. I said "of course!" We spend another weekend enjoying each other's company before I bid farewell to Morocco and traveled on to Europe. He was excited that I was going to be in Europe for so long and said he would be visiting friends around Christmas and maybe we could meet again. I thought, "Yeah right, he'll meet someone else before then."
But he did not, and neither did I. We met during December and traveled Germany and Poland together, staying with his friends and falling for each other in the cold, frosty air of Christmas markets and glittering town squares. We went our separate ways for Christmas itself, but after the new year, I went back to Morocco to meet his family and see his hometown. I played with his oldest niece, ate his mother's cooking and explored his beloved Atlas Mountains and desert with him. I learned about his heritage – the heritage of the the Berbers, the Amazigh, the "Free People." I brought my parents a Berber rug for a belated Christmas present and books by Moroccan authors, we ate lunch at roadside cafes and took breakfast overlooking canyons and valleys. My father called with the news that my grandfather had died – at the age of 88 but still quite unexpected – and Younes comforted me and supported me as I grappled with whether to abort the last weeks of my journey and go back for the funeral or stay (I stayed – my grandfather was a practical man who would've cringed at the thought of me paying upwards of $500 to change a flight).
When Younes and I parted for me to go back to the US, I was heady with new love but I knew the cultural and distance barriers were immense. But as long as he made me happy, I was going to give it my best shot…
TBC next week with how we ended up married.
Our first picture together, Sept 2011
Exploring his hometown, Jan 2012
Seeing him with his nieces was a major "awwwwww"