I Met My Boyfriend a Year Ago in Morocco

                                                                     Amir and I at Monte Carlo!

On a Friday evening several weeks ago, I was able to experience something that fulfilled a dream I’ve had since the dark ages of my pre-teen years. That Friday evening was the night of Cal Lutheran’s annual homecoming dance, Monte Carlo. Although I’m no stranger to school dances, this one was different. It was the first time I attended a dance with a guy I was actually in a relationship with. This was never something I dreamed about every night nor was it my life’s biggest goal, not even close! But I’d be lying if I said that I didn't hope to have that experience at least once before graduating college and living in the “real world.” I’ve had dates to previous homecoming dances and prom, I’ve gone in groups of friends in limos and party buses, but there was always something that seemed so special about getting to dance with someone I was in love with. So there I was that Friday night with my boyfriend Amir and as a junior in college, I had my first school dance with a boyfriend. Although the night was incredible and my pre-teen self would definitely be impressed, the fact that we were together in the same place given the story of our relationship, was even more so.  

If I rewind the clock to a year ago, on another Friday evening, I go back to Marrakesh Morocco where I met Amir for the first time. I was studying abroad in Aix-en- Provence, France and a group of my closest friends and I decided to visit Morocco on a weekend trip. At this time, I was honestly living the golden ages of my life, for a lack of a better way to express the fact that I was thriving. And let me make one thing clear- when I say I was not looking for a relationship at that time, I mean it. It was not one of those situations where I secretly prayed I’d find someone despite my vocal attempts to convince everyone I didn't want a boyfriend. A boyfriend was the last thing I wanted. “Catch flights not feelings” was more than just a mood, it was a way of life. I was living an incredible experience in beautiful city in southern France: I was learning subjects and a language I was very passionate about, I was traveling all over and meeting new people, and most importantly, I felt that I was the happiest, most confident and passionate version of myself. Who would want to risk losing all of that for a relationship? Not me.

                                                                         The entire travel fam.

The trip to Morocco was honestly one of the trips I was looking forward to the most. I only heard the most incredible stories about the country from my study abroad BFF Lilah who had done an Intensive Arabic program there the summer before coming to France. The way she described it made it seem so fascinating and different compared to any of the other places I’ve ever been to before. It was also my first time in Africa, and my first time in a Muslim- majority country. To make the situation better, Lilah invited one of her Moroccan friends, Amine, to accompany us that weekend. Amine also brought along one of his close friends, Amir, who happened to be in Marrakesh that weekend as well! The four of us Americans met the two Moroccans in the main square of Marrakesh just after sunset on that Friday evening and spent one of the best weekends of my life together!   

Traveling to Morocco was exhilarating to say the least. The endless undercover markets that mazed through the city were mesmerizing with their traditional merchandise and fresh products, the Moorish architecture and design was unbelievable and the ambiance seemed like it came right out of an exciting desert adventure movie. Don’t even get me started on the food… Where had it been all my life?  You tell me. It was incredible. Not even the hot weather or our blatant lack of sleep could destroy our moods and ambitions. The best part of the weekend though, was spending it all together. I was shook by how much we had in common with our Moroccan friends! Here are these guys who grew up across the globe in a completely different culture, religion and background, yet it felt like we had been friends our whole lives. Amir and I particularly vibed together. We would share life experiences, we’d tease each other and would even tell each other personal stories. I even told him about the disaster that was my past relationship. Despite my stubborn desire to stay out of a relationship, I remember at one point  thinking to myself that I wished to marry someone similar one day. On top of it all, it became increasingly evident that he liked me, which I thought was adorable even though I only strictly saw him as a friend at that time. He knew that and respected that.

                                   This was on the last night of the weekend, can you tell he liked me?  

When that incredible weekend was over, I declared that I would definitely come back to Morocco again that year since I loved it so much. Amir and I still stayed in touch over messenger apps and social media. We had conversations in English and French, and initially to me it was just so cool to talk to a good friend from Morocco! It took me two more months, visiting three more countries and coming back home for Christmas break to finally realize I actually caught feelings for Amir. It was only around two weeks into the new year and I had already broke my motto of “catch flights not feelings." You see, any rational person would’ve probably taken this situation from a logical perspective- we were over 6,000 miles apart and there were 8 hours in time zones between us. Even when I would be back in France, he would still be in a different country! However, all of that never even came to my mind, I could only focus on what an incredible and unique person Amir was. He definitely was not your average thirsty, lazy, privileged, immature guy. We both shared so many similar values and goals in life. He had such a deep knowledge of the world and spoke French, Arabic and English fluently, which I found extremely attractive. He had studied abroad twice- once in the US and in Slovenia. He was so mature compared to your average recent college graduate and was working as a finance coordinator, which meant he was actually doing something with his life. Not to ramble on like a lovesick puppy, but I felt like I could really be myself around him. If I had a “type” he would’ve defined it. He's a Moroccan Muslim and adds culture, adventure and a new perspective to my life- something I’ve always wanted in a relationship. He also took a genuine interest in getting to know me and even reads my Her Campus articles. Ladies, if he doesn't read your HER campus articles, it isn’t real.

When I came back to France and our conversations continued, I was really living every moment to the fullest, not even considering the seemingly impossible situation of our futures. Our conversations became more flirty and loving, although neither of us actually admitted we had feelings for each other. I planned to go back to Morocco with my friend Sophie during spring break which left Amir and I both counting down the days until we could see each other again in person. This time, I went to Casablanca, where Amir grew up and lived, and Tangier. The day I arrived in Casablanca was full of excitement and nerves. I arrived 2 hours before Sophie since we had different prior plans, and while I was waiting for her in the Casablanca airport, I decided I was going to spend my time waiting on writing a letter on the back of my boarding pass for Amir. When Sophie finally arrived, we took the train to the Casa Port train station where Amir was standing there waiting for us. The next night, Amir and I went on a walk. It was around midnight and the air was very misty. We were holding hands and talking calmly, as I prepared to read him my letter. We stopped on the beach-side pathway in front of the Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world. It was there that I read to him the letter of the amazing things about him and after that, we had our first kiss and were officially together.

                                                                         The Mosque Hassan II. 

I still had no idea what our relationship had in store, but I knew one thing for sure; I would never have to risk losing anything I was passionate about if I was with the right guy. Amir only motivates me more to reach my goals and to be the best version of myself. He doesn’t limit my life in any way, he actually brings more opportunities to it! After the night in front of the mosque, the reality of our unlikely situation hit me, and it was terrible. It seemed really unlikely that we would be anywhere near each other the next year. I would be back to the states in August, and it was looking increasingly likely that he’d have to go to Vienna, Austria for grad school. Despite this, we continued to talk every day and to get to know and love each other even more. Then one spring day, Amir got accepted into Grad School at Illinois State University with his tuition completely covered by a graduate assistantship position. He would be coming to the United States! Best news ever! Although Illinois still wouldn’t be very close, we would at least in the same country and there would only be a two hour time difference between us.

Up until now, I visited Amir several other times while abroad, I got to meet and love his family, we spent several other weekends together, we explored different cities in Morocco and he even met my mom during the summer when we traveled together at the end of my internship in France before he moved to Illinois. Amir was there for me during tough times like when my phone got stolen, and when the Borderline shooting and wildfires happened. We shared so many joys, laughs and adventures together. The transition back from study abroad was really difficult for me at times which caused different problems for us, but we always ended up stronger and happier afterward. I couldn’t be happier to have Amir. Distance can be difficult at times, but nothing can replace the confidence I have in our relationship and no matter what the future has in store for us, I will always be grateful for everything he has done for me.

                                                                         Amir and my mom! 

The night of Monte Carlo was Amir’s first trip to California and the first time we saw each other in the United States. I couldn’t have asked for a better boyfriend to share my first dance in a relationship with.

                                                                         Amir at Venice Beach!