Even romance is not safe from the patriarchy.
I am eating bento in a Japanese restaurant in the middle of Nairobi. The warm sake brings back memories of Japan, drunk nights in Nagoya desperately searching the streets for adventure (and food). Sitting across from me is a fairly young man, a political activist who has just gotten done telling me he loves me. We have known each other for less than two weeks. I am unmoved; I change the topic and begin to discuss the exciting complexities of Kanji. ‘I love you’ I scoff internally. A mild irritation is forming at the back of my head. ‘I love you’ he proclaims, I scoff internally. The food is delicious, the ambiance pleasant, I am filled with nostalgia for a home that was never mine. The sake is hitting the spot and I am enjoying the intellectual stimulation my dinner companion is providing and the earlier irritation is beginning to subside. My impending travel plans come up and he crudely expresses his need to eat something I have cooked. I give a shocked and harsh ‘no’. Why would anyone assume someone else is obliged to cook for them? The insult is completely lost on him. The mild irritation is back and is making its way through my whole brain making my ears warm and straight down to my chest. But the night out is almost over and the irritation is at bay, I am not yet enraged.