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We went to visit the family who had sent the photo. The boy used to take me and my sisters to an ice cream shop in Isfahan — the only one in town. It was the first time I had ever fallen in love, really. He’s the only person I’ve ever loved, really, besides heroes and actors. When you’re young, you can meet and talk: Why not enjoy yourself?

I remember everyone would stare and gawk at us because we were dressed in full abayas which was unusual at the time. And I thought I knew that I would marry him one day.

He only grew more and more attractive as time went on. After 10 years, my family returned to Iran [Post-Partition] and he and I met again.

When he came into the room, my eyes brightened because he was the most handsome man I had ever seen. He was not married, and I was not married, so we got together. My older sister was still single and my father thought my [would-be] husband ought to marry her instead.

It might be tempting to think that they don’t exist. Recently I asked friends on Facebook and Twitter for dating advice they’ve heard given to women that likely wouldn’t be given to men.

Their wisdom has both inspired and resonated with me — all three perspectives are vastly different, and yet rich with history, emotion and nostalgia. I had a choice to make, and I went with Mel — the intellectual. He lives in India and he came to visit me last year. People kept telling me that long-distance romances didn’t work out, so I went down [to Trinidad] a few times and we saw each other and it was nice. And my family has so many children who love me all the same. When I moved to America at 29, me and the guy still corresponded. I’d attend every single Carnival — without a guy in my life. I decided to make a life out of taking care of other people’s children — they are all my children.That wasn’t so unique in itself, but what he said next was. I fell in love with Maia Chance’s lovely heroines, Lola (a widowed society matron who has fallen on difficult financial times after her husband’s death) and Berta, her former cook, who becomes her business partner in a detective agency known as The Discreet Retrieval Agency. Unlike most college-aged kiddos, my sights were never set on studying abroad. Over the last several years, as an author, educator, and mentor of women, I have analyzed marriage from a multiplicity of angles—that is from material written by professional governmental, educational, and faith-based sociologists, scientists, and psychologists, as well as journalists, philosophers, and novelists. I never dabbled with the idea of taking time off to backpack around Europe or do a gap year in Asia to find my zen.

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