The Mr. Crabs meme and your love life abroad

“I have a bad feeling about this”

“I have a bad feeling about this”

So, you’re in love. You send each other pictures of cute dogs and talk about the ever ending doom of the world together. It is true love after all.

But then, you decide to do this wild thing. In the midst of all the husky pics, farts, and driving to Hy-Vee to buy craft beer and cheap liquor, because you have the tongue of a goddess that deserves nothing less than Two Hearted Ale and you only drink the best craft beers on sale.

Between staring into each-other’s eyes as you reach for the last fry and almost burning him alive with his own cigarettes, you think you found the one.

Then- you’re all like: “Well this is going well, alright! I think I’ll leave now.”

It’s no big secret that study abroad experiences put relationships to a test. Especially when you’re in college. You’re one tribal tattoo and a cute accent away from giving up your life to carry salt across the Sahara on a camel and live your life sipping mint tea and enlightening yourself with the herbs of the gods. Tempting.

This is where Mr. Crabs comes in. This matrix convulsion that breaks from the outside in. This re-analysis that continues to reveal itself in layers comes along. At first, it feels as if it is unreal. It’s a mirage. It’s not happening, you say. It’s all chill.

It’s not chill.
It’s not chill at all dude.

“I’m supposed to be in love!” you tell yourself. This can’t be 500 Days of Summer love or LaLa Land love. This has to be unwavering love so full and so sure it can defeat the test of time and space and the best damn mint tea your tongue has had the pleasure of sipping. This has to be Alexander Hamilton’s unwavering love for the United States kinda love dude!”

And yet. Here you are. 22 and Mr. crabs falling onto your bed in a fit of frustration.

The Test

As the idea of distance and time fills up my nerve endings, my chest hoards sand. Counts pebbles as they pinball inside my body. Each breath, harder to inhale than the next. An uncomfortable feeling of displacement. “THE TEST” is scary. Really scary.

The test puts both parties in this Romeo and Juliet scenario. Except, like… hopefully one of you isn’t 13 and the other in their 20’s.

The test separates you in cultures, time, and distance. Here, you are reminded that life can have so many endless paths and you can fall in love with more than one person. At least, I believe that. I always have. My SO knows I simultaneously am madly in love with myself anyway. #selflove #onetruelove

Day 3

I listened to my roommates as they spoke about “the talk” they had with their significant other. This talk that’s suppose to help both parties express how they feel about the situation at hand. Should they take a break? Should they continue on in their undying love for one another? Should they have an open relationship? These are all questions that my roommates had gone over with their significant other. Laying on my big queen bed, as I stared out the window looking at the dim lights that shown through the window pane, I wondered why I hadn’t. Was I supposed to? Should I have?

These questions continued to progress and I couldn’t help thinking of the time my dad and me were in a coffee shop back home. I was asking him if he’s ever had a hard time in his marriage. He smirks, rocking his head back and forth as he raised his eyebrows – eyes widening as if a world of stories lay just behind his lids. He starts off by talking about his old gypsy wife by the river. A false narrative he pulls out now and then because of his childhood in the mountains.

After I hit him on the shoulder and ask him to be serious, he divulges. He begins to laugh saying that one time he had walked into a women’s office at his work and they were talking about marriage. In the middle of the conversation, he told her “there has never been a second of my life that I have regretted being with my wife.” In that moment, he said that she began crying.

So, if my dad has never “well what if” ... about the love of his life, what does that make my relationship? What does that mean about relationships/ old/ young/ open/ polygamous/ sister wives/ otherwise? Is our love just weak? Or is my dad truly the sweetest man on earth?

The Take Away

In any case, as every layer unfolds, you too will question yourself, your relationship, your connection to this person. I know I sound really sure that this will happen to everyone. However, I really can’t seem to rap my head around the idea that this wouldn’t occur. Our lives revolve around love and relationships, romantic or not.

Your heart may grow fonder, as the cliché goes. However, it may also wane. You may be Mr. crabs collapsing upon yourself in a “holy crap what is going on” type of way.

If not. Good for you. As I write this in a coffee shop blaring some crappy American soundtrack in the background, the red neon sign outside points an arrow to the window across the street. All I can think of is سير نيشان ; the Arabic words I learned for help with directions: go straight.

Maybe I’m a sucker for signs or maybe god is real. Maybe love is real? Maybe it’s just a chemical reaction created so we can continue the parasitic infection that is the human race upon this beautiful green world.

Maybe, just maybe- nothing matters- I can choose to go straight and if life happens, so be it.

…Onward

*Arlinda Fasliu is a junior at the University of Iowa studying journalism and international studies. She will be spending her semester on the SIT Morocco Field Studies in Journalism and New Media program.

Student blog entries posted to this International Accents page may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UI Study Abroad and International Programs.  The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

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