Six months ago, I moved to Oman to work for a nonprofit for a year. The combination of being a creature of habit and having limited restaurant options for vegetarians means that now, at virtually every place I go, there is at least one waiter who predicts my order and then is all smug like, ‘oh, you foreigners and your habits!’ The following is a list of the orders that have been predicted by Oman’s clairvoyant waiters.
Juice place: Banana juice with ice cream
Starbucks in the mall: iced latte
Schwarma place: Banana juice with ice cream
Other schwarma place: Banana juice with ice cream
Burger King: Mozza sticks (they are on the verge of cutting me off of mozza sticks)
Schwarma place where they teach me Turkish: Labnah cheese (pizza dough covered in this soft cheese, and then with MORE CHEESE on top)
The coffeeshop that’s kind of crappy but I still go to all the time cause it’s close and I need coffee and seriously, ugh, Nescafe: large cappuccino
Schwarma place on the highway: Two falafel sandwiches, Arabic bread (this shit is SO GOOD. Imagine a burrito. And then make it grilled so the insides are all squishy and melty. And then instead of burrito insides, imagine that it has falafel and GARLIC MAYONNAISE. And then eat it in a parking lot. Yeah.)
That one really expensive European style coffeeshop that I go to anyway because it has attractive interior design and also because UGH, NESCAFE: large cappuccino
But as a young girl, I did not like that men acted as if I was a grown woman because of my height. Arianna once said that I don’t like people placing ideas of who I am based on my body. Establishing myself as a young girl was a difficult task. Regardless of how I felt, I was someone else entirely before I even understood the breasts, the hips, the length.
I was 5’7 by the end of 6th grade and 5’8 by the end of high school. I grew two more inches in college. Those last two inches were my favorite. A part of me likes the awe from others when I say how tall I am.
Most people think I’m shorter than my true height. I am not “skinny.” I’m curvy and athletic. As a dancer, I used to say, “I’m Alvin Ailey, not Joffrey Ballet.” My curves have a gravitational pull. They bring me back down to earth. My height is manageable to the eye.
But as a young girl, those proportions festered disordered thoughts. To be tall and right was to be tall and thin. Anything else was unfeminine. But to have curves was to be a woman, and to be tall with curves was something else, something not normal. Sometimes I still struggle with this. But the times are few and far between.
My shoes are worn down from walking. Feet planted firmly to the ground, my height is forgotten. It is time spent in motion. The surface is quicksand.
“Yes, Oman is peaceful country, very nice. You no need worry about anything here. You want worry, no problem - I tell you, you want worry, you just put watermelon on your stomach, you relax. Simple.”—Our public relations officer (all-purpose Omani bureaucracy navigator), who is possibly the nicest (and funniest) man in the world.