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”.
I was living in Iowa before I came to work in Saudi and there was this bubble tea shop at the local mall that sold chilled milk teas with those little tapioca pearls at the bottom. My favorite was the rose milk tea. It was slightly sweet with a subtle taste of rose and the creamy texture of milk. Ooh, how I’ve missed those!
I took a little nap after work today and when I woke up I was craving a cup of coffee, but decided that the caffeine probably wasn’t a good idea if I wanted to get back to sleep at a decent hour. Instead I thought to make a cup of tea.
I turned on the electric kettle to boil some water. On the stove I heated some milk. In a cup I put 3 rose buds, a drop of rose water and 1 black teabag. Once the water was boiled I filled the cup about a third of the way and let the tea steep. When the milk became hot I added 2 tablespoons of sugar and then used my frothing wand to make some foam. I removed the rose buds and then poured the sweet milk into the cup. I left the teabag for another minute and then removed it.
My experimental rose milk tea was absolutely perfect and instantly reminded me of a hot boba less version of the bubble tea that I used to get while living in IA.
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz • الملك عبدالله بن عبدالعزيز
I was sitting on the couch with Y when suddenly he said, “There are all of these things on Twitter saying that King Abdullah died, but I don’t know…”
“Do you think it’s true?” I asked.
“I’m not sure…” he replied.
We went on doing whatever it was that we were doing. I think we had the MBC movie channel on the TV and both of us were sort of mindlessly scrolling through social media dashboards on our phones. All of a sudden the channel changed to the live feed from Makkah. Not just one of the channels, but all of them.
I could tell by the look on Y’s face that this had more significant meaning than a strange technical glitch. A few moments later the channel quickly changed to a news broadcast. The man on the screen announced the death of the King.
Y looked at me with such sorrow in his eyes and said, “King Abdullah is one reason that I met you”.
Almost 3 years ago my friend A taught me how to make this dish. It’s actually Y’s favorite dish and although it takes a long time to prepare and cook I’m always happy to do it because seeing him enjoy it makes the process 100% worthwhile.
To make Kbaybah Ha’il you will need:
*Spices (mixed spice or curry)
I finally got around to inviting the girls from work over for some late night tea and snacks. I’ve been really blessed to have met such lovely ladies at KSU and it’s amazing how well we get along while we have only known each other for a short time. Here are some of the snapchat photos from that night.
Green tea with mint
Cake from Eman
Gift from Shazia
Gift from Fateha
I was surprised by some housewarming gifts. I was given gorgeous serving dishes and a dainty little silver tea set. They’re so lovely and the perfect things for entertaining on nights like the one that I shared with these girls.
Working abroad allows me to constantly meet new people from all over the world. There are people who come and go, but then there are the fantastic people that I know I will have to do my best to keep in contact with when we go separate ways. This is a beautiful thing about working and living in another country. You find people that you have connections with and at the same time there is almost always incredibly interesting conversation as we all come from very different lives and backgrounds.
Thursday was the last day of work for a short break due to Hajj and Eid Al Adha. A day of teaching, workshops and meetings ended with a nap on the bus and snacks with friends in my apartment.
Friday I went to Riyadh Gallery with a few of the girls. We shopped, sat for coffee at a cafe and enjoyed wandering around. Once arriving home I put on my sweats, had a cup of tea and dumped myself into bed.
Saturday was my 24th birthday.
I spent the morning relaxing. Some of the girls came by that afternoon. One brought me this adorable little sorbet sundae. Another stopped by with a box of mini cupcakes and chocolate caramels. The last visitor made a cute little Instagram video and sang to me in Spanish and Chinese. How lovely and thoughtful are my new found friends?
Later that night Y came back from visiting his family. We planned to go have sushi at Benihana, but it was so packed that we got a take-away and enjoyed dinner at home instead.
I had a really lovely and simple weekend.
A big thanks to everyone who visited me, wrote me a message, sent me a picture or passed along positive thoughts. Love you all and thanks for making life so sweet.
Here is a short video to sum it all up.
[This video contains music]
Thank God for each year of life that I have been given, the people who have been with me and I pray for even better years to come.
I’ve been amazing with the furniture stores here in Riyadh since I arrived here. Driving past the stores, peering into the windows and then actually stepping inside is a pretty awesome experience in my opinion. There is this luxurious and elegant style. I guess some people might consider it to be a it over the top, but I think because I’ve only ever seen anything like it in movies or maybe even museums that I find it fascinating and beautiful.
Here is a short video with some pictures that I took recently in a furniture shop called Habitat. Check it out and let me know what you think.
I’m back in Riyadh and doing my best to enjoy the last days of vacation before going back to work.
Unfortunately, the day after I arrived here in KSA I started feeling really ill. It started out as really nasty post nasal drip (to the point where I had to sleep sitting up), to having itchy eyes, a runny nose and that extremely irritating endless sneezing feeling, to massive sinus congestion, headaches and coughing, to extreme fatigue and aches behind my eyes…and finally back to feeling human. I woke up today without the worst of those symptoms and just a simple cough that I suspect will stick around until all the gunk is cleared out of my chest.
Despite feeling like poo I have still been able to relax and enjoy not having to wake up and leave for work.
Here is a short video of the past relatively uneventful days. August 11 to August 17