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I donít know why I chase after her the way I do. I have always been a rational person, never a sentimental one yet suddenly my emotions seem to have overtaken me, leading me where I cannot see. Ever since I saw her in my French class, my mind has been preoccupied with her. First I was impressed, impressed by her beauty, elegance, grace and charm, then I became infatuated. My infatuation quickly turned into an obsession, a secret obsession. I had never thought of one single thing as long as I did of her; her image filled my mind throughout the overwhelming majority of my waking hours, impeding my studying and my peace of mind. Although I had strongly decided not to tell her about my feelings for various reasons, I often approached her indirectly as I tried to be around her as often as I could.  I was completely capable of just walking up to her and admitting to her what I thought, but there were several problems to that. First, that would be too easy, it would undermine the respect and value I have for the innocence and sincerity of my feelings towards her, as it would cheapen her as well as the whole process. To just readily and casually ask a girl out, or to try to easily start anything of the sort sucks the life out of romanticism. I would much rather give the process value and weight by thinking of that step as a big deal rather than just a daily routine. Second, if it turned out she wasnít available or interested then I would have destroyed the possibility of even becoming just a friend for she would then always be uncomfortably conscious of me. Third, I would place her at the face of the canon too quickly, she would have no choice but to dismiss me politely for she would not know a thing about me, and it would be awfully awkward for her to just say "okay letís go out" given the abruptness of the situation. Fourth, even if she did, I would not be able to decide whether or not I wanted to get into some form of a relationship with her, mild as it may be. I just liked her and that was it. I wasnít going to proceed further lest I should go against my religion. In addition, to get to know a girl, I had to like her as well as find her suitable for me, the latter of which I was unsure in this particular case. I had never seriously known a girl before the way most American youth do, that is just as a girlfriend. I did not want to, not then nor never. I would only be interested in entering a relationship I would never exit; hence I dismissed the role of the boyfriend as I patiently awaited the time when I would be ready to assume the much more respectable and fulfilling role of a suitor (my faith, in addition to psychology, had a part in this philosophy of mine). I had never even concieved of the possibility that I may fall in love against my will, I always thought I could control that. I was now aware that there might be strong obstructions to my intended plan: mainly falling in love, and out of rationalism. I did not want it to be that way, but I was never consulted. I did not know what to do. I decided to fight my desire to try to confront her, to allow myself only glances at her but nothing further. I wanted this to end, I wanted my peace of mind back.

 Throughout the supposedly emotionally volatile period of my life, my teens, I had always been unusually emotionally stable. I had been able to avoid emotional tangles with the opposite sex through minimizing the possibility of being around them when it wasnít necessary. I focused my attention on spending quality time with my male friends and on contributing large amounts of my time and thought to more meaningful things such as religion, philosophy, psychology, and cultural diversity. I was right. This method was not at all repression but a way of controlling myself. I nevertheless thought highly of marriage and of having a good, strong, relationship with a woman one day, yet only within the context of a marriage. If I were to like someone it would be forever, or not at all. I strongly believed in commitment, a value despised in the American culture. People had degraded from such committed relationships as marriage, to such vague, perverted relationships as "boyfriend-girlfriend" which also soon proved to be too much of a restriction for their animalistic desires  thus leading to the evolution of the new 90ís relationship: the extremely liberal "just kickiníit", as opposed to the still liberal yet not so liberal "going out" of the previous decades.

 The boyfriend-girlfriend relationship should only serve the purpose, if any at all, of giving the couple the chance to know each other further before actually committing. In that sense it is a transitionary phase and not a relationship in itself. As soon as the couple have made the decision of whether they like each other or not, they should then immediately plan for marriage at the quickest convenient time, or break up, based on the answer. This humane method of interaction is sophisticated and noble as well as healthy. Not to mention, it avoids such huge realms of endless physical problems including unwanted pregnancies, aids, veneral diseases, stalking, and abuse: issues that have become a dominant part of the Ďeverydayí in the western culture. Even worse is emotional problems that arise from frequenting short term relationships with the intention of one day ending them. Instability is contagious; the instability of relationships leads to the instability of personality and ultimately to the instability of oneís whole life. Permanent relationships provide for a secure future and for a warm atmosphere in which one can grow in a healthy manner in the various fields of life: love, work and enjoyment of life.

 If ever I approached a girl, it would only be if my intention were to get to know her better as a potential lifetime-companion, and that is why I saw no sense in knowing a girl as a teen as the possibility of being permanently commited was then non-existent. Instead, I spent a lot of time on myself, preparing my personality and intellect so as to be a well-rounded, understanding and respectable person for the right person when the opportunity comes about. For that reason, I believed that I deserved more than just a fling for I was preparing for a true, lifetime relationship. As I prepared myself for the right person, my standards became high as I believed that I too deserved a prepared woman. I did not intend to ever approach a girl just for the heck of it; I would never even consider a relationship whose goal fell short of marriage. I believe in only one healthy man-woman relationship and that is the husband-wife relationship. A man should not even attempt to know the woman if eventual marriage is not his ultimate goal. If a manís intentions in knowing a girl was not accompanied by the possibility of marriage, then the relationship is built on illegitimate intentions such as physical gain or temporary companionship, an attitude degrading and undermining to the girl as well as to the man.

 Now however, even though my philosophy regarding relationships did never change, my rationalizing abilities were somewhat impaired. Having passed the bulk of my teen life safely, it was towards the end that I tripped. I, for some reason, just wanted to know her more; to speak with her, even though I knew very well that, rationally speaking, there was probably no future for us, owing to the many barriers between us that kept me from even seriously trying to have her. First, It seemed that she was older than I was as she was preparing  to graduate with a double major while I was just a junior. Second, She was not of my faith, a very important pre-requisite for my pursuit of a serious relationship. Third, She was brought up in the midst of the liberal American culture, a thought which spurred doubt in my heart as to her seriousness and fidelity if a relationship was to begin, and about her bringing-up of children abilities if a family was to be started. Fourth, She lived almost two hours away from my house, a fact which discouraged even the possibility of trying to see her more often so as to get to know her better. Finally and most importantly, she could be in a serious relationship for all I know, perhaps even married, perhaps with children. I didnít know what to think for I simply did not know anything about her. To try to find out this crucial information required that I let her in on my thoughts and feelings, and if she proved to be occupied or not interested for any reason, my sudden approach would seem awkwardly abrupt as the rejection would be too much of a blow to my personal dignity. Even if she didnít, I thought the relationship would still probably be short lived for the above reasons. Yet the dilemma lay in my sheer desire to know her, regardless of the above rationalizations not to. I had to compromise my mind and heart somehow so I concluded that I should first try to know her more indirectly, as a comrade, as a study mate and through this try to find out more about her as well as give her the opportunity to get to know me. This way I would not slam the door shut, nor swing it open off its hinges, but keep it ajar.

 It is not against my faith or personal philosophy to fall in love - if that was what happened - but it is against them to act upon love in the wrong way, that is to pursue a relationship which would defy logic. If there did not seem to be a logical end to that love such as a successful long term relationship, then that love would be in vain, it would have to be killed.

 I decided that if things didnít work out, she would at least become a good friend as well as the secret standard against which I would measure my potential wife in the future. I had found what I like most in a woman, in all the various aspects of evaluation, personified in her.
 Whatever the outcome, I will not deny that her appearance is very appealing to my eyes, her character extremely warm and friendly, her mood pleasant and refreshing, and her methods unusually polite and caring for an American. In addition to all this, she had a sophisticated air around her.

 She had the looks I liked most in a woman: the tall thin figure, the thin face, the high cheek bones, the smiling eyes, the tanned skin, the long thin fingers, the nicest smile, the feminine brows and lashes, and the dark black hair which either hung loose on her shoulders or was collected in a neat pony tail or bun. She resembled a beautiful model. In one of our assignments for French class, we were required to describe our potential partners the way we would like them. I described her. I wrote in the following excerpt:

Pour les qualites physiques, Je prefere une fille de peau tendre et brune; des cheveux noirs, brillants et lisses qui tombent jusquíaux epaules. Jíaime les femmes grandes, maigres, et elegantes; et celles qui ont un visage maigre et de longs doigts. Ma conjointe doit etre delicate et feminine dans líapparence et dans le mouvement. Ce sont tout pour les qualites physiques.

 But it wasnít just her exterior that got me, but the way her interior interplayed with her exterior. Her character and personality, and the way she carried herself through were all very attractive to me. Even her choice of study I found to be attractive in a woman, that is the fact that she was studying French and Spanish topped her off with what I perceived to be the most appealing and practical job for a woman, a wife and a mother.

 All in all, despite the odds and the differences, I simply could not forget her nor overcome my extreme attraction to her in anyway. I found myself overlooking every barrier for the sake of the pleasure I attained through her mere admiration.

 The first time I approached her was after class one time. I had noticed a text book for another French course in her bag. So I took the opportunity to start a conversation, I went up to her to her and casually asked, as I pointed to the book, whether or not she would suggest this class keeping in mind its level of difficulty. Prior to this moment, all I had seen of her was her profile as our seated position in the classroom did not provide for otherwise. As she turned towards me, this became the first time where I could clearly see her face in full. I was struck by cupid at point blank to say the least. She gracefully explained what she thought of the class and she kindly offered to photocopy some chapters of the book for me that I may get a concrete idea of its level of difficulty. I was surprised at her generosity and care; I politely thanked her. As we walked towards the classroom door, I asked her what her major was and she told me that she was double-majoring in French and Spanish, she said that she just wanted to get school over with so that she could go on with her life. I felt obliged to part with her at the door rather than to walk further so as not to seem too interested. I knew she wasnít.

 The next class period, she approached me and apologized for forgetting the photocopy which she had told me she would bring me. I said it was okay. Next time, however, she brought it for me. The chapter was a work of literature entitled "Rabelais". That xerox copy was much more to me than just a xerox copy, it was more like a prize possession. I amusedly thought about framing it and hanging it on the wall. We didnít talk much for the bulk of the semester after that as I, being very sensitive, was less than encouraged by her feedback to pursue her. Maybe I was right in assuming her disinterest, maybe I was wrong in being so dependent on her feedback, maybe I just lacked persistence, but two things were for sure: first, my dignity would not allow me to approach a girl more frequently than circumstances permitted; second, even though this was so, my appreciation for her did not wane an inch, but actually multiplied rapidly. I gazed at her a lot in class, I would never bore. During this period, our communication was not more than a casual exchange of glances, hiís, or smiles.

 Ever since she has entered my mind, I have become completely disinterested in other girls, even ones that are very friendly towards me or that show some sort of interest. I do not even want to look at them, I do not care even if they were all beauty queens.

 One time towards the middle of the semester, I approached her again. I had to register for the following semesterís courses and I really wanted to know which French course she would recommend for me to enroll in as an elective, given her experience in the department as a major. I told her that I had an option between French literature and French composition, she recommended the latter. I asked her which course she was going to take if any, and she answered that she was also going to take French composition. I thought to myself "thatís it, now I definitely know what Iím taking". We talked for a minute and then I motioned for us to walk towards her class suggesting that this was also my route. We talked and she mentioned that she had been around Spanish speaking people up to the age of 10, and that had been where she initially learned Spanish. I also knew from a previous class that she was born in the Illinois suburb of "Blue Island" which I had been sure to look up on the map as soon as I had gotten home that day. We stood for a while in front of her class taking about Spanish and French. All of a sudden, she asked me if we get together to study for our French class. I was surprised as well as pleased, I could not restrain myself from announcing that I thought it was a great idea. She asked me for my name which I had to utter twice so that she could comprehend it. She told me that she was "Bridgette Hennessey", I thought to myself: "trust me woman, I know"!

 We set a date which she regrettably renounced the next day saying that she had to meet someone else to study for another class. I hate games. I was disappointed. She also suggested that we re-schedule it, which made me feel better. I agreed on her proposed date and also suggested that we exchange phone numbers. She quickly agreed, saying that she was just about to ask the same thing. She also asked me where I lived. (I answered "Jefferson Park, and you?", she said "Frankfort"). I didnít know what to think of that. Normally, in my culture, a person of the opposite sex asking for your phone number and then where you lived meant something, but I quickly reminded myself that this was America and that it was totally normal for this to happen here, so I dismissed my thoughts, though reluctantly. She asked me where that was and I said "40 minutes north" and when I asked her the same question she quickly responded "40 minutes south". What a disappointing Irony, I thought to myself, we were both equidistant from the same point yet in opposite directions, what an omen. I couldnít help but think of the fact that she was willing to come all the way to the University (a 40 minute car trip) on Monday, knowing that she had no classes that day, just to study with me. My mind fluctuated between being impressed and perceiving it as no big deal assuming that she was only interested in the preparing for the exam. Just then, the regrettable happened. Another student walked out of the classroom and somehow immediately knew that we were setting up a study session, and invited herself. I could not get myself to say "yes", I just eyed her with disgust, so Natasha said "yes". I was disappointed, I had wanted to be alone with her so that I could find out more about her through my infamous indirect methods.

 Later on in the day, I found out that I had an exam on our set date so I reluctantly called her up to cancel our appointment. Her answer machine went off in her voice (signaling that she wasnít married as I had feared, nor living with her parents for that matter). I went on with my message. Having heard it was me, she picked up the phone and greeted me. I was pleased. I told her I couldnít come because of my exam, she told me that she could wait for my exam to end so that we could still get together for our study session. I was again pleased. She told me to meet her at the cafeteria which I thought was a good sign. We talked for a while and then she thanked me warmly for calling, I hung up feeling good. The more I spoke with her, the more I felt deeper for her. I didnít want to feel that way, but I had no choice. I was often ashamed of myself for being so weak. I was surprised at myself for I had long thought that I was not capable of such emotions. My rationale had always dominated my sentiments to the point where several people independently referred to me as "Dr.Spock". I almost did not believe in love. I still donít know if I do, though now I do know what it means to be extremely infatuated with someone. If she proved not to be interested or available, then so be it, I would accept that, though not easily. But if she was interested, then what would I do. Would I then retreat, or would I plunge into what my mind discouraged.

As I mentioned earlier, I didnít really believe in a future for us, though I hoped for one. Why was I then still pursuing her If I did not see a favorable outcome whichever way she thought of me? The only reason why I still allowed myself leave to approach her was the existence of a bleak ray of hope that I could somehow compromise between knowing her and still keeping my Islamic principles intact, in addition to overcoming the differences and barriers that obstructed my path through open-mindedness and understanding. That ray of hope was the secret fuel that kept this going. If that ray of hope was to dim, If that compromise was to prove impossible, if things were to escalate towards an unacceptable direction, then one thing would be for sure: I would ultimately prefer to lose her than lose her God and mine. I would much rather suffer emotional distress than break or even bend an Islamic law. Perhaps I had tripped, perhaps I had stammered, but I was not going to fall.....