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”.
A few pictures from my trip to the USA for our wedding celebration with my family.
I flew from Riyadh, KSA to Doha, Qatar and then Doha to Washington DC. I spent a few days with Y in Arlington before traveling to Burlington, VT. On the way back to KSA, Y and I took a bus from VT to Montreal, Canada. We spent a night there and then flew to Qatar then to Riyadh and finally to Ha’il for the Eid holiday.
The night’s sky – Arlington, VA
The night’s sky II – Arlington, VA The comfort of home – The Adirondacks, NY A breathtaking view – The Adirondacks, NY The best breakfast – Montreal, Canada
Last October Y and I took a trip to Turkey. We visited Istanbul. I can relive the moments of that trip by seeing the different pictures of coffee and tea that we drank daily. I can still taste the bitter and dark sips of coffee and the smooth and sweet sips of tea. Istanbul is a beautiful city with a rich history. I enjoyed exploring its streets, but my heart broke as children came up to me asking for money or food. The children were Syrians who had fled the war. The eyes of the children who approached me are burned in my mind and I think that is why it has taken me so long to finally sit and write about this trip.
I remember a small boy who came up to us asking for change. His eyes were light, his skin weathered and his clothes dirty. Y told him that if he took us to the train station to buy tickets that he would give him some money. We followed him as he weaved through the crowded streets down and below the Grand Bazaar. We reached the booth for tickets and he took bills from Y to put in the machine. Y let him keep the change. As we walked away the police began yelling at him to leave. One kicked him as he started to run away. My heart broke.
Another evening we were walking after having dinner. It was cold. I was wearing a heavy wool shawl over my shoulders, but I could feel the chill on my nose and cheeks. As we turned a corner there was a small girl sitting at the base of a statue. She was shivering and had goosebumps on her arms. Y asked her if she was hungry, but she just looked at us without answering. He bent down and opened the take-away box that we had in hand. I took off my shawl and covered her with it. My heart broke.
While I am not sure that I would like to visit Istanbul again in the near future because of this situation, it was still a great trip and I will cherish the beautiful things that I experienced.
1 year and 7 months after arriving in KSA I traveled to Ha’il for the first time.
I visited my husband’s family’s house, we had our wedding, I met his grandmother and I saw the beautiful mountains that border this northern city.
At the beginning of June I finished my work at KSU and left Saudi Arabia to visit my family in the United States. My first stop was in Delaware to visit my grandparents.
After being away for a year the first thing that I really noticed upon landing in DC was the green. When we collected our bags and made our way outside the airport to the curb to catch a bus the cool air felt so fresh.
I woke up in the morning and sat with my grandfather to have coffee and chat while we waited for my grandmother to come home from work. Somedays we went out and some days we relaxed at home. We went antique shopping, we visited the beach, we took rides in the car, we watched movies on TV and most importantly, we enjoyed each others company.
I cherish these moments and while you make look at the pictures above and see raindrops on leaves, a cloudy sky, a tiny ladybug on rope or the texture of a cantaloupe, I see a lot more than that. I see, smell, taste and feel moments.
For me, pictures don’t need to be of people or specific places or events. I can remember just as much about a moment from an image of woodgrain or the foam on top of a hot coffee.