Friday, January 7, 2011

How Bananagrams and Riyadh Saved my Family

I have been in Saudi for ~13 days now and this experience should have been Hell.

First of all, I am leaving a country I became a hermit in every summer since I started undergraduate university. I'm leaving people behind and seeing how my parents' departure is affecting people that they knew; people who cared for them.

Secondly, as we are moving out, I have to sort through all my things and pack them into boxes. I have absolutely hated packing ever since I was little and I find myself avoiding the task every time I have to do it. It stresses me out even thinking about putting things in boxes. I have been procrastinating since I got here and have made little progress. It doesn't take a leading psychoanalyst to tell you what's going on there!

Despite these things, it hasn't been Hell. It has been nowhere near the terrible experience I thought it was going to be. I am going to take a huge leap forward and say that this time in Saudi might be the best time I have ever had.

There is a sense of freedom in the house and everyone is much more lighthearted than usual.

There may be no TV and fewer trips outside the compound (or even outside the villa), but I rarely feel bored.

I may be waking up at 4pm or later every day but I never feel that the day is wasted.

You may see me online all the time, but this time I don't feel like it is taking me away from my family.

My best friend can account for the pure hatred and distaste that I feel for board games and the like. I also feel very uncomfortable in "family" situations, because I don't belong to the lovey-dovey family that kisses and hugs and wants to play board games together. I'm fine with both of those facts and cannot imagine my family life to be any other way. Isn't it ironic that it is in Riyadh where I actually find myself enjoying playing Bananagrams with my sister and Mom while my Dad listens to comedy music of the 60s (Allan Sherman's Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah to be exact)?

In person, I am kind of quiet and introverted. I sound like a stoner and usually have a very blank, unreadable stare on my face. I listen more than I talk, and when I do talk I tend to say awkward things or mix up words because I tend to think in several languages at once. I don't show my feelings. I don't think that my family realises that I'm having a good time here, but I really am. I cannot express it with my voice, but I think I can express it in writing. This is why, sometimes, I wish I could type everything!

I'm not super happy and jumping for joy about leaving Saudi, but I am not angry that we are moving out of here. I am starting a new chapter of my life, one which does not have Saudi as a base of operations. It's a confusing and stressful time. For once in my life, I don't see it as a new chapter in my life alone - I see it as a new chapter for the family. I never used to think in terms of family...

Riyadh has never been Hell for me, although it has been for other people and I am well aware of that. Riyadh is a strange, kind of crappy place. It is constantly under construction, it is sandy and dry, it is where bureaucracy is King and Queen, and it is segregated by gender. The most wonderful thing in the world is that it is the place where I found myself finally becoming closer to people who I have known my whole life. To explain how that worked out, I think I'd need to write a whole book.

I'll always be grateful to Riyadh. I'll always be grateful to Saudi. And now, I can say I will always be grateful for what it has done for me and my family.

[Dang, this kind of feels like a movie ending to a post. Does Pixar wanna pick this story up for a movie? They could turn my family and I into animals, or robots, or toys, whichever one they want (preferably robots)! I could deal with my life being turned into an animation. Pixar rocks.]

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