“Wait, I thought you got engaged already? Didn’t that happen way before thanksgiving?” Cara asked. “Well, yes- technically. But he didn’t propose, or anything,” I answered. “So what do you mean you’re engaged if he didn’t propose? I am beyond confused” huffed Sasha. The confusion took over her face. I giggled lightly, but continued to explain to my American friends how exactly he proposed twice.
Growing up Lebanese-American, I was always faced with the challenge of intertwining two very different cultures. My parents wanted my siblings to learn dabkeh while my friends blasted backstreet boys. My parents insisted on making me labneh sandwiches for lunch, while all my friends enjoyed their grilled cheese on perfectly toasted toast. I was envious of their lunches, to say the least.
As I enter my almost late twenties, I have slowly…and I mean slowly come to appreciate all that my parents taught me while growing up. I realized that I am so lucky and even privileged to have experienced two amazing cultures that have shaped me into the young woman I am today. But these two cultures weren’t always easy to intertwine.
“Baba, I don’t get it. He won't give you your engagement ring until he surprises you? Yaani, you want a proposal like the Americans,” asked my dad. “Baba, I am American,” I answered. “Okay fihimna, but you’re already engaged. He came and asked for your hand in marriage from me, your father. That means more to me than any ring or proposal,” my dad answered back. In that moment, I knew he was right- but I still had a fairytale ending in my mind. That Westernized idea of a man getting down on one knee, and pulling out a shiny, beautiful diamond and asking the precious words of “will you marry me?” I took a deep breath and decided to let Mohanad figure it out for himself. Maybe it was silly to have a proposal, or maybe it would be everything I ever dreamt of. But regardless, my dad was right. I was already engaged and a 'proposal' wouldn’t change that.
My toulbeh (a formal ceremony) had already taken place in early November. Afterwards, Mohanad and I discussed the details of what I liked and didn’t like in an engagement ring. We never went ring shopping because I trusted his taste, and knew he would do an incredible job at overseeing the process. He actually hung up on me when I asked how it was coming along. Thanks, babe.
I fell in love with Mohanad’s heart before all else. He had this willingness about him that was refreshing. The willingness to ensure I was always smiling. The willingness to do whatever it took to keep me happy. I knew that when it came time, he would make my proposal extremely special- even though we were technically engaged. The idea of a proposal to an already engaged couple still makes me laugh, but Mohanad pulled it off.
It was a cold Sunday afternoon as my cousins and I pushed through crowds of people on 59th street by Central Park. Yasmine, my younger sister was adamant on going around the block, when I knew the Woolman Ice Skating Rink was the other way. “Nour, it’s THIS way. Let’s go!” she yelled. “Geez, relax- I’m freezing too,” I mumbled, trying to catch up with my cousins. As I ran up to crosswalk, I came to a sudden stop…and that’s when I saw it. A huge sign…
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