Maher and I met at university in Montreal when I was barely 19 years old. Understandably, (at least from my perspective;)) I wasn’t too serious about the relationship and decided to keep it light, emotionally.
A year after we were together Maher moved to Beirut where he started working. I insisted that I would stay on in Montreal to finish my degree. What was supposed to take me one year took me two to finish due to some mistakes in my understanding of required courses.
I spent the summers in Lebanon and Maher visited me in Canada once or twice a year. On one of those visits I wasn’t in good shape. The long distance was taking its toll on me. I wanted us to be together. I was falling for him more and more. Over time. That’s part of my story with Maher. A slow, long process of falling. Deeply. In love.
So me in my naive, idealistic manner I suggested we move somewhere together right then. Maybe a small town or an island in South America. It was rather close and most importantly, it was warm.
Maher, the grounded practical one entertained my request jokingly, and asked, “And what would we do? With what money do you expect to live?”
“Well,” I smiled dreamily, not really believing in what I was saying, “You can teach sport, maybe a running group, and I can teach dance.”
Maher was running everyday, even through the Canadian winters. His limit for running in the cold was -20 C. He always encouraged me to run with him, motivated, even coached me.
And I missed dancing. I had danced since I was 5 years old and while in Canada from the age of 17, that aspect of my expressive movement life was missing.
“Hmmmmmmm…..” he sighed, and that was the end of that.
At least until about 15 years later.
We made it to out warm tropical island, albeit in Thailand, the other side of the world, and we are manifesting that long forgotten, distant memory of a dream, Maher with Samui United Academy, his new project for football and sport camps and me with a funky little dance/ fitness/ yoga studio I am taking on.
A friendly, fun, confident dance and fitness instructor, Ashley, whose classes I’ve been enjoying lately walked into his studio one morning. I was the first person there. We bid good morning, kiss each other on the cheeks, and I ask him how he is.
“Well….” he starts as he tells me how he is planning to leave Samui. Suddenly and for good. He says he will sell his studio and do what he loves most, which is arranging weddings. Back in Europe.
I was gutted. It was such a great space and so convenient, so close to my kids new school, a spot where I had met so many wonderful women. In such a short time.
I took what was one of his popular classes, “dancersize” followed by TLTA (tums, legs, and a tight ass!) to hip music, blaring, all of us chattering and clapping, laughing, often speechless from being pushed so hard, but there was the feeling of being part of a tribe that got us through it!
At the end of the class he made the announcement to everyone present, that he was leaving Samui, that he was selling.
My shy self waited for everyone to leave, then practically whispered to him “I am interested in the studio, please send me an email with more info.”
And this was literally two hours after I had heard the news, two days after I told my psychotherapist I felt ready to teach again, and also 2 days after my doctor reduced my meds.
Today, three weeks later, I have been given the green light to get off the medication altogether. Today three weeks later, I gave Ashley a goodbye hug as he handed me the keys to the studio.
I feel that I am flowing with life, that it is intriguing. Full of surprises and love. How different from when I was 14 in Lusaka and a suicide attempt survivor, 20 in Montreal drinking too much, depressed, and dreaming of warm weather and lightness, 26 in Chengdu running my little yoga studio on my own and burning out, to 29 and birthing premature twins, to 35 in Samui and having a complete mental health breakdown, to today!
I have many, many people to thank for their love and support over the years, but Maher is the one I choose to bring up today. We’ve been together 18 years now, and we made some dreams come true because we came out of the rough times together, stronger, more open, with a trust that we could improve and live our lives in support of each other.
That was a mouthful!
Here’s to more adventures, more connections, more risk, more love and laughter!