I live by myself and I’m totally in love with that fact most of the time. But it’s times like during Ramadan where I wish I wasn’t so…
This year, more than any other, I’m feeling this sense of loneliness. This Ramadan, I’m longing for a sense of community; the kind of community of where I’m not breaking fast alone. Where I’m not the only one not tearing into a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts at the morning staff meeting at work. Where I’m not skipping out on suhoor because it’s just too much effort to get up and prepare something to eat.
I don’t know why I’m feeling this way this Ramadan in particular. Maybe it’s because I just returned from visiting my mother and family in Palestine. I miss them and I miss Palestine. I miss being surrounded by Palestinians, people who are just like me. It could also be that my closest relatives who lived near me just moved to another state. Or it could be that I’m just becoming more of an emotional mess the older I get.
It’s not the spiritual aspects like Friday or taraweeh prayers that I want; I don’t pray, although I know I should. Maybe one day. Right now, though, I just want to be around loved ones and an entire community that is fasting right along with me. I want iftar dinners with family and friends. I want the late nights up watching all the various forms of entertainment on Arabic television. I want, again, that joyful creeping anticipation of Eid.
Ramadan in recent years has been accompanied by a sense of emptiness and repetition. Dinners with relatives have become more of obligations than anything desirable and exciting. Eid consists of visits to my father’s grave where I read the Fatiha, followed by those obligatory visits to homes of relatives. It’s all just routine, none of which has had any sense of festivity or happiness that one would, and I think should, feel and experience during this time.
I don’t know what the answer to my longing exactly is, but I have come to a point where the thought of moving from what I know has entered my mind. Where? I’m not sure. I cannot go to Palestine, despite it being my first choice – I don’t have an Israeli-issued Palestinian ID card and by occupation standards, I’m a demographic threat by virtue of being Palestinian. I think I could move someplace in the Middle East, where I can gain that sense of community. But these are scary new thoughts – I’ve never seriously considered the prospect of such a seismic shift before because I think deep down, I’ve always been afraid of change. Being in the US, where I was born and have lived my entire life is what I know; it’s safe.
But what I now know is that I want something different. I want to be near people that love me and whom I love. I want to be around people that are similar to me.
Perhaps by Ramadan next year, I’ll have figured out and found those things.