On one cold January evening of this year, I threw a world class hissy-fit that no one will ever let me live down. Mainly because that fit was about wallpaper.
Yesterday evening, I was this close to throwing a new one- this time about towels.
Clearly, I’m not stressing at all about this whole “Oh, I’m getting married” thing. Nope, not a single bit. I haven’t protested and complained about all the “advice” been thrown my way. And I definitely haven’t haven’t spent nights crying and wondering if this is all worth it.
The day after we got engaged, I didn’t wake up with that feeling of blissfulness. You know, that feeling of “I’M ENGAGED! OMG OMG OMG OMG” where you’re compelled to shove your ring in everyone’s faces and start loudly sharing your wedding fantasies and plans.
In fact, my second thought (after being upset at myself for sleeping with my makeup on and ruining my pillow) was “oh, now I have to start planning for the house.”
House (noun) البيت: An apartment that costs more than you can ever imagine, hence you can’t technically afford, but is the single most important factor for two people to get married in Lebanon. No house, no marriage. It is also the source of endless questions, opinions, and discussions and will ultimately give the couple the following symptoms: stress, headaches, tears, loud voices, and defensiveness.
I had only heard horror stories about house-hunting and purchasing: the locations, the prices, the need for loans, the bad quality of furniture and workers, etc…
So naturally when we started the process, I was scared and I kept asking people not ask when the wedding is because I didn’t know if we would find what we were looking for.
I never expected we would get so lucky. We ended up buying the very first flat we saw: 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, a large kitchen with a laundry room (the maid’s “room” as they like to say, but it won’t be used for that), and a massive dining and living room with a balcony extension. In Beirut. The fact that it’s in Beirut is a miracle by itself.
The moment we announced we had found the house, the opinions started pouring in, unwelcome. Like I said before, everyone has an opinion, on everything.
It’s hard to explain to your families that things have changed since they got married, that you have your own ideas and opinions, that times are tough and you don’t want to spend too much money, especially on things you don’t need.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to change their mindset. I’m learning the hard way that the primary purpose behind the house is not to ensure the comfort of its occupants but to show it off.
Try explaining that with being at work all day and having the majority of people living abroad, we won’t be having as much guests over, and you’ll be met with hostile stares, like you’re being rude. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Yesterday was one of the many examples of the above. I went towel-shopping- yes, it’s a thing- and ended up crying when I went home.
The reason? Well, I just completely lost it when I was told I had to buy towels for everyday use and stuff that are super fancy, with a nice print, and beige colored (beige for towels, eww?!) are for the guests- because apparently my guests deserve the indulgence while the future husband and I should be using the cheap, regular, single color stuff.
I can understand the need for regular dinnerware and fancy sets, I’m all for that, I love dinner parties and can’t wait to start having people over. We even already own more cutlery than any human should ever need.
But towels? Come on. It’s not like I’m going to give you kleenex and that’s it!
And I wish it stops at this.
Many, many times, we’ve been asked if we’ve gotten things for the salon (formal reception area) and the living room. When we say no because we will only use one space for both functions, we get those looks that I despise.
I mean, to those asking, why does it even matter? Will it affect my hostessing skills or your comfort? Or should I just take your advice and end up having the salon accumulate dust as is the case at virtually every house?
I won’t even start about the jehez, which is where the bride’s parents help set her up with personal items and some things for the home. That alone involves its own intricate details, definitions, and expectations.
And it’s not even easy to buy furniture in this country to begin with. First, you have to deal with the sky-high prices of everything. When you find anything under 3,000 USD that’s of good quality, you’ll know that’s a deal.
Then you have the garish colors and the odd styles that fit nowhere! I mean people, don’t you have a sense of taste? And also, because this is furniture, you have to find something durable. Good luck with that.
At the end of the day, we’re two simple people who prefer comfort over anything- and love color!
I wish there was an IKEA here to solve all my problems. In fact, all our families and Ahmad would be thankful if IKEA opened here because they would stop having to carry things over whenever they come to visit.
Sometimes I truly feel like I want to shout: just trust me on this one. I’m not trying to go super avant-garde or do anything out of the ordinary. I just want to feel like this is our own place in the world.
I truly feel like all that energy could be invested in giving us actual sound advice that would help us through this process and later when we are married. After all, people are going to talk no matter what I do, so it’s not like taking opinions into consideration is going to change anything.