Friday, November 24, 2006


(Subtitled: Cathartic spilling of the details of my getting married)

I’m sorry that I don’t often share the details of my life. It’s not a decision to hold back, I just never think about certain details interesting you. When I speak to you, I try to think of what around me would spark your interest. Consequently, our conversations never turn to the personal. Hey, in my defense, you don’t ask many questions! In short, it’s dawned on me that I don’t think I’ve personally said to you, “Dad, I’m getting married.” Perhaps Mom has been our Important Conversation Filter yet again. I’ve always quietly wished that you would share more of your thoughts with me. So, now I will right my wrongs and spill all of the proverbial beans.

When I arrived in Morocco in January, I landed in an established group of friends, just the way I like it. Hassan was there from the first, and I liked him from the first. I’m pretty sure the feeling was mutual, though neither of us could have predicted the long-range probabilities. You’ve not raised a romantic, starry-eyed daughter, so there never came a point when it seemed appropriate to gush forth any news. Hassan and I liked each other. We got more comfortable with each other. We spent a lot of time together. We started to say, “love.” We never discussed living together. He simply never left. I can’t remember when the talk of marriage began. I suppose it was joked about first, then talked of semi-seriously, then assumed to be part of the plan.

My plan began with bringing Hassan home for a visit first, and then bringing him with me when I moved back to the states. I was still thinking of getting married as quite a long term goal, sometime after we got settled there. At every turn, someone here warned me how difficult it is to procure the necessary visas for a Moroccan to get to the US. As I looked into the necessary steps, it became clear that it’s not an easy process. If we are an affianced couple, not married, then there are a great many time constraints that we have to work under. When we apply for a visa for him to come to the US, we don’t know how long it will take. When and if it does get approved by the US consulate here, then we would have 6 months from that date to arrive in the US. If we are granted the visa to come to the US to get married, we must be married within 3 months of arriving in the country. Somewhere in my research, I glanced at the information for couples who have already been married in their country of residence. This immediately looked a lot easier, because all of those time constraints are removed. That’s great for us, because we’re poor, and we’re not positive we’ll have money for airline tickets and weddings on the timeframe and demand of the US Consulate. All of this was just a string of logic in the back of my head throughout the Fall.

One day I was talking to Mom, who knew that I had really hoped to get both me and Hassan there for a visit during this Christmas. She asked if I was still considering that as an option, or how the chances were looking. I admitted to her that there seemed to be no way to afford it, even if we could get the visa worked out. I then explained a bit of the above information to her, and added that things might be easier if I got married here, perhaps sooner rather than later (I had just learned that after two years of marriage, Hassan would be eligible for permanent resident status in the states. That time starts ticking when we’re married, be it here or there). She expressed the sentiment of, “wow.” Then she called me the next day to say that she did not think that she could let me get married without her, and that she was considering the option of coming to Morocco for Christmas. She was quick to add that her visit did not necessitate a wedding at that time, but that she would feel better knowing that she had met him. Seemed a good thing to have my mother here for getting married though, so I began to think about the possibility of marriage in December.

I’m sure your next logical question would be, “and why, at that point, did you not feel it appropriate to share the news in an official fashion?” Well, because I still don’t know if it will be possible for me to get married at that point. It didn’t seem like the announcement I should be making… “I’m going to try to get through all of the red tape so that I can get married.” I just assumed that something would become more clear, more suitable for announcement. Perhaps I would be able to set a date at some point?

What I’ve learned is this: There are still a few hurdles before anything is certain. To get married in Morocco, I have to have a certified copy of my birth certificate. Since I had a passport in hand, the birth certificate didn’t make the packing cut. Mom is going to bring me a copy when she comes. I also need to travel 8 hours to the US Embassy in Rabat. There I’ll stand in lines and get a few things notarized over the course of a couple of days. Hopefully I’ll walk away with a paper saying that I’m a US citizen in good standing with permission to marry. Then I have to figure out how to produce a US criminal background check for the Moroccan authorities. This poses the biggest problem. One American friend here said that the embassy won’t fingerprint you, and the police here will give you a fingerprint card that you can spend money to mail to the FBI and order a report sent. Don’t know how long that would take. This American friend here advised me to have Mom bring a copy of a background check when she comes. Well, that isn’t so easy. My old employer won’t release the copy that they have, because they paid for it. Bullshit, right? So, without me present in the US for the police to fingerprint me, I don’t think I can get a federal criminal check. I might be able to get an Arkansas state report through a very happenstance connection I have, but who knows if the Moroccan police will accept that. So, it all comes to maybes. Perhaps when Mom arrives, I will have the necessary paperwork, perhaps not. We’ll know when we walk into the court here.

If I do have everything I need, then the wedding will be paperwork signed in an office somewhere. Moroccan “weddings” don’t contain any official or legal ceremony, they’re a big party. Since we don’t have the money to throw a big party, I first envisioned my wedding as a Justice of the Peace kind of affair with (hopefully) Mom as a witness. Hassan and I have recently discussed having his mother and sisters over to our apartment for dinner and some photos as a “wedding.” But, that will probably be the extent of the celebration aspect of it here. Most importantly, it would give Hassan a chance to share it with his family, because none of them would have the chance to come to the states when we have a wedding there.

When I take a step outside of the situation and look at it from another viewpoint, I realize that it must be difficult to swallow. I hope this helped, and I hope that I’ll be able to relay more information about Hassan and about our relationship that will answer your questions and concerns.

I love you,

Friday, November 03, 2006


You know how killer bees are really called Africanized Bees? Well, they are. And now I know that everything in Africa is just more agressive. The men, generally yes.

And the flies? Cheese and rice! Have you ever watched a "Save the Children" commercial and wondered why that Etheopian baby don't swat at that fly? Yeah, that fly that's crawling RIGHT ON HIS EYEBALL?? That's because the fly is an African one. Thus, that fly will go nowhere. But if it DOES go somewhere... that somewhere will be approximately 6 inches away (that's about 15 centimeters here), and he will come right on back to the task at hand.

I'm growing out my ponytail just so I can shake my head and hit my face with it.