Hello, Readers. It’s been three years. Sorry to have kept you hanging.
Coming back here is kind of like visiting a house I don’t live in anymore; it feels simultaneously familiar and foreign. But I do miss my neighbors from time to time and I do often remember my blogging days and how this place served as my therapy and support system for so long. So again, hello! It’s me!
I’m approaching the 14th anniversary of my Saudi life. I’ve lived in Riyadh for longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my life, which feels strange to say. In fact, I have lived it my current home longer than I’ve lived anywhere in my life. I feel less American after all these years, but definitely not Saudi, and at times, as hard as I try to convince myself otherwise, I can’t pinpoint where in the world I will definitely feel like I belong. I fit in here. I am happy here. But belonging remains just out of reach.
I’m also approaching my 39th birthday, which is hilarious to type. I remember being 29, absolutely terrified to turn 30, convinced a life of misery lay ahead of me. I didn’t want to get OLD. Fast forward to today and I’m delighted. My 30s have brought transformation and growth and have helped me settle into Me. I’m fascinated to witness my body aging. The white hairs, the teeny wrinkles, the softening and shifting of my body, the loosening of my skin. It’s a sacred process. It’s miraculous and marvelous and I am absolutely reveling in it. I’m not as delighted with other aspects of aging, such as fun new medical conditions, the apparent refusal of my body to burn as many calories as it used to, and my absolute need for a solid 8 hours of sleep to function like a half normal human being.
My life is pretty simple. My days are filled with school runs and chores and cooking and work and a meet up with a friend here and there. I’m still working part time as a private teacher. My work brings me so much joy and I’m convinced that I definitely have the best job on earth. After years of struggles with infertility, I’m grateful every day that my life is still rich with children. It’s such a privilege to have a hand in helping little ones become who they are. I’ve tried to think long and hard about what I want to be when I grow up, but it’s hard to settle on something cooler than what I already do. So, simple as it is, this just might be what I’m doing now that I’m a grownup.
My daughter is now almost 17 years old and every bit of the firecracker she’s always been. My girl is in 11th grade. She’s preparing for University and of course has her eyes set on a life outside of Saudi. She’s an incredible artist. She’s fiercely protective of people she loves. She loves music and anime and her friends. She goes to parties now. Fancy ones! She goes to restaurants and movies and malls alone now. I’m not allowed to take pictures of her anymore. That’s embarrassing. I’m just glad I get to be her chauffeur. Parenting a teen is wild. No one prepared me for this. I’m not referring to the infamous attitude and rebelliousness; I was prepared for that. But no one prepared me for the transition from in-the-trenches parenting of a child to the instantly sidelined, coach-no one-asked for mom of a teenager. Not being needed in the same ways I was used to has a been a difficult transition. Parenting is one long and sometimes painful act of letting go. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Married life is good. We’ve been together about 6 1/2 years. After what seemed to be an eternal wait for marriage permission from the Saudi government, we finally got our legal marriage completed and have been living a simple, quiet, stupid happy life in our teeny apartment with our three cats. He’s a good man and my best friend. I try to tell him daily. He’s kind and generous and hilarious. He’s my prize for all the nonsense I had to put up with in my past life, I am convinced. I don’t care how lame that sounds because I’m almost 39. And because I deserve stupid happy. He annoys me sometimes too, don’t worry. He asks too many questions, he leaves shoe prints on the living room carpet, he burrito rolls the blankets away from me constantly, and he talks way too loud on the phone. His family has been lovely, warm, and nothing but welcoming to me, the sole foreigner who was sprung upon this conservative Bedouin family at the very last minute. I don’t fit in there either, but they know I’m trying and they’re so gracious about it.
I got to take my husband home! Just before the pandemic hit I returned with him in tow for the first time in several years. We had an epic six week roadtrip across the United States and back, stopping to spend time with my family along the way. It was so great to introduce him to my family and friends. He fit in perfectly throwing axes, getting pedicures, carving the turkey at thanksgiving dinner, hanging Christmas lights and opening presents, playing with kids. It felt good to let others know that I was happy. We visited Washington, DC, Philly, Chicago, Denver, Vegas, the Grand Canyon and more. We went to a blues concert, a Snoop Dogg concert, nearly got stranded in the Colorado mountains during an epic snowstorm while driving a Nissan Maxima, saw Christmas trees at the White House, and brought in the New Year together while stranded in DC after a Saudi re-entry permit mishap. It was epic.
Speaking of pandemics, it’s been a heck of a year and a half. I hope you’re all well, along with those you love. Covid all but shut down my husbands business. Those were tough times with neither of us working. We had several weeks of total lockdown, where we were only permitted to leave our house for necessities. Between the lockdowns and a covid exposure scare, I didn’t see my daughter for 7 weeks. Thankfully, Saudi took the pandemic seriously from the start and things never really got too bad here. There were a couple distant elderly relatives who succumbed to the virus. Lots of family and friends contracted it. My husband did a brief stint in the hospital when he contracted Covid, but somehow I never tested positive. It’s been hard watching how things have gone in my home country during this time. All I can say is that I am so grateful to have been here over this past year and a half.
I think that about sums up life over the past three years. I’ve nearly written a book. Now tell me, how has your life been?