It isn’t easy being a forty-year old divorced white American Muslim woman who is a writer. That label doesn’t bring the boys to your yard — or even to your inbox.
At forty years old, if you are a white American Muslim woman who has lived throughout the Muslim world, you are ready for a different experience with your faith. You’ve seen enough “cultural” Islam to write a satirical encyclopedia. Now you want to know the deeper essence. You wish you had a community to help with this journey, but every mosque in a hundred mile radius is about the immigrant experience, translated through an Arabic-only filter, and people discuss issues that you wrote about more than a decade ago.
Been there. Done that. Next.
If you are a forty-year old divorced American woman, there will be no more children. That part of your life is finished. Khalas. Over. This means, by default, every man you meet around your age, Muslim or not, will want to procreate as soon as possible. Or, they will have a few kids with a several years of raising left on them. At this age, you want to spend whatever time you have left journeying towards the self rather than to Toys-R-Us.
Because you are a writer and now finally able to stretch out into creativity, you will notice that most men in such circles are twenty-seven years old with deceptive hipster beards that make them look far older (trickster beards is a more apt description). Or, they are middle-aged and comfortably partnered. You will go to readings and couples will be everywhere: fat ones, young ones, tattooed ones, bearded ones. Everybody will have someone but you, because at forty years old, you should be interesting enough to at least have a date.
There will be a few dates, of course. One will be an alcoholic pot smoker who tells you that he doesn’t normally get “good girls like you.” He will never have a good girl since he is always inebriated. For one brief moment, you miss conservative Muslim men who wouldn’t dare embarrass you by drinking all the wine at a poetry reading to sweat profusely during the prose. You can’t wait to get away from this sad, clichéd middle-aged ex punk rocker. You think if dating is as pathetic as this, you will gladly refuse the experience.
Of course, you are a writer and you like being alone. In fact, almost everything you’ve done in life, you have completed in solitude because you are one of those introverts who feel depleted if people crowd your space. But no one likes being alone all the time. What you want more than anything – more than just romance or an unexpected embrace – is a good conversation with a man. It is a simple thing, really. You just want a guy with whom you can discourse.
Except that no one will talk to you.
You may be introverted but you aren’t shy. You approach interesting looking men and make small talk with a smile that feels just a tad uncomfortable, because you really aren’t big on smiles, but you are genuinely interested in people’s stories. This freaks men out, even if your curiosity at that moment is merely intellectual.
The boys who fall in your path always seem scared of you.
You know a few things for sure, like how the average Muslim man won’t consider you as a potential partner. You are forty-years old, divorced, and you aren’t having any more children. Plus, you desire to redefine your understanding of Islam beyond the normative experience. Muslim men are not going to talk to you at all, except the Salafi ones who say Alhamdulillah every other word and who want a second or third wife because, Alhamdulillah sister, it is the Sunnah.
Non-Muslim men may talk to you a little bit but they will think that you are slightly weird. There will be large pieces of yourself that you won’t know what to do with when it comes these men, except for the few who are Buddhist or Taoist, or just spirituality curious and intellectually advanced. But those guys will be married to their petite, pixie-coifed wives with whom they blissfully eat artisanal Vermont cheese in their artsy bungalows. Of course, you want that lifestyle, but you can’t even get a guy to have a conversation with you. So every Friday and Saturday evening, you eat your cheese alone. You read esoteric crap like Islamic epistemology and you think about things like “does consciousness survive death,” while you make up a list of ideas that wish you could share with someone.
Sometimes, you think you should pimp the Muslim thing like a ninja and corner one of those academic types in the coffee shop and say, “I am going to go jihad on your ass if you don’t sip your Fair Trade organic espresso at my table.”
Because, apparently, the only way that you are going to find love as a forty-year-old divorced white American Muslim woman is through an ass whooping and a good cup of coffee.