I’m American. I grew up in the Adirondacks of northern NY state. I went to university in VT about an hour away from my hometown. The first time that I really moved away from home was August 2012. My husband was accepted to study his masters at a university in IA and since I had finished my masters, I went with him. From August 2012 until December 2013 I lived 17 hours away from my dad and 10 hours away from my mom (by car). Then at the very end of December 2013 I decided to take a job and move to Saudi Arabia…
Now I find myself calling two places “home”. The little town I grew up in is “home” because it’s what I know and most of my family live there. Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia is “home” because it is where I live and work. It’s where my apartment and my things are. It’s where my husband and I stay together. It’s the place where we started our own family.
When I’m in Saudi and I say “home”, I mean NY. When I’m in NY and I say “home”, I mean Riyadh. That one word has different meanings for me. It hold different emotions based on which place I’m talking about.
My home in the US is full of old memories — summers spent playing ball, harsh winters spent in front of the wood fire. There are places so vivid in my mind – this path leading up to a small waterfall near the top of the river that runs through town, noises I can hear if I close my eyes — rain on the roof of my bedroom, things I can imagine feeling — my feet stepping on the grass of our lawn, smells that I can sense when they are nowhere near — crisp autumn leaves, and tastes that still seem so fresh — cool water straight from the tap. The nostalgia I get when I’m away is so real.
On the other hand, there is a quote that describes my feelings for Riyadh perfectly – “You know that you’re in love when home becomes a person, not a place.” My husband makes Riyadh “home” for me. Riyadh is nothing like where I grew up. Its the opposite of what I know. It’s a crowded city. It’s a desert with hot, dusty summers and mild winters. But somehow I feel at home there. I feel my place there and I miss it when I go away. It’s a place where I feel safe. It’s the “home” where I start to make new memories.
The beautiful thing about this is that I’m almost always “home”.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم I had an entire row of three seats all to my self on this flight. It’s once of those short flights where it seems like it has only been a few minutes since takeoff when the pilot announces “We’ll be starting our initial decent into blank city shortly”. They offered a meal of rice, salad, a roll with honey/jam, a small mars bar, water and juice. They also went up and down the aisle offering coffee and tea. Overall, my experience with Saudia was fine and I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with them again.
مطار الملك خالد الدولي I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about immigration and customs once arriving in Riyadh. Once reaching the lines for customs I stood to wait for my turn. There was a large group of elderly people in front of me and I stood there for a while. The rest of the lines started to disappear and an agent from across the hall called me over. I handed him my passport. He asked me to place my fingers on this scanner. I did both hands and then my thumbs. He then asked to take a picture. He looked at my passport again, stamped it and handed it back to me. I was so relieved. That was quick and easy. I guess there was really no need to stress.
I went on the the baggage claim. It had stopped going around, but I saw one of my suitcases on one side and one on the other. I took the large one and started to go around to the other side. A man met me with a trolly and asked if I wanted help. I said please. He put my bags on the trolly and said come. He took me to the customs line for gulf nationalities and I pointed to the other line, but he shook his head. I followed him anyways. He put the bags on the belt for me and returned them to the trolly. The customs officer didn’t say a word. The man helping me with my bags stopped at some of the seating across from the arrivals door. I paid him and he hurried back to try and find more work.
At that point I just wanted to cry. I was so happy to be in Riyadh and so happy that I had done so without any complications thus far.