It’s the 10th day of Ramadan today. It’s been… lonely. I knew Ramadan would make me miss St. Cloud even more than usual, but I wasn’t prepared for this strange, profound sense of loss.

I went to the Islamic House on campus for the first time a few days ago and was amazed to see a fancy array of dishes, served buffet-style for iftar. “Wow,” I said to the girl beside me, “This is awesome. Do you know who did all this?”

“You mean who brought the food here?”

“Yeah, and who cooked it?”

“Umm, I’m not sure…” she gave me a puzzled look, “We just got it from a restaurant nearby.”

I hadn’t even thought of that. A restaurant, of course! That was why everything looked so organized. Plates, cups, cutlery and napkins were laid out neatly and there were even to-go boxes for leftovers.

It struck me then that I had been so used to the chaotic potluck iftar in St. Cloud—nothing was ever really organized—and I guess the stark contrast suddenly made me realize how much I missed those times. We’d never know who was bringing food that night, or if anyone was even planning to, or whether it would be enough to feed everyone. And yet somehow, it was always enough. Even more than enough. We always made it work. And we were always so appreciative of those who took the time to cook for such a large group, a true challenge especially when fasting! It was also amazing how so many of our non-Muslim friends became part of our “Ramadan group”. It was wonderful, that community spirit that somehow ignited among such a motley crew of characters. I think it’s true what they say—you share food often enough, you become family. And I miss my St. Cloud family so goddamn much. Ugh.

Of course, I know well enough that the past tends to get overly romanticized. I told Gani one night that I wish we could gather the whole gang again for Ramadan someday, but he reminded me that we shouldn’t try to “recreate” good times and just appreciate the memories we have because we set ourselves up for disappointment when we don’t acknowledge that everything and everyone changes. The dude can be pretty wise sometimes.

Anyway, I do like attending the well-organized iftar here. The Islamic House is a really cosy, clean, comfortable space and I’ve met some super cool women so I can’t complain. We’re almost halfway through Ramadan now and while the past few days have just been so turbulent (with what happened in Orlando and the massive backlash that followed), I think I’ve done fairly well so far, keeping my temper in check and focusing on positivity. There is a lot more good than bad in the world. I believe this to be true with all my heart.

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