I’m finally back in country after a successful week of travel to the States. After working a full day at school, sitting around Dammam Airport (which is really not the most inviting place in the world) until the early morning, then partaking in 32 hours of relatively uneventful flights, and finally spending the last 4 hours in a car, I arrived in my home town in all its autumnal glory. I made it back just in time to be able to surprise one of my very good friends at the rehearsal for his wedding, and it couldn’t have been a more enjoyable weekend.
It was interesting to talk with everyone about my experiences living in the Kingdom. Some were left genuinely bewildered as to how and why I ended up in the middle of a desert 8000 miles from everything I have ever known, while others were pretty excited to hear all little details of living in one of the most religiously prohibitive countries on earth. I initially figured I would turn into a bit of a pompous ass and grow tired of constantly having to explain myself to everyone I met, but I quickly realized that every time I found myself explaining something to someone new, it was a definite deep conversation rather than me just blathering on like a self absorbed idiot. Or at least that’s how I walked away from it. I very well could be a little egocentric, but then who isn’t when they get a little more attention than usual.
I relived my wonderfully ordinary series of flights back to Dammam, this time flying with the jet stream so as to make it a bit quicker, and am now currently enjoying the same monotonous compound life as before. Going back home, after any extended period of time, tends to give you a false sense that the world changes at an incredible pace. In reality, very little actually changes when you get back and it’s a bit of a downer to realize that. It’s also incredibly unsatisfying to then return to your new home, hoping for some evidence of even a minimal change, and realize that things are still exactly as you left them. This realization personally materialized as a very ill-advised, home-sickness and jet lag induced, sunset-to-sunrise, homemade wine drinking binge followed by a full 18 hours of painfully intermittent hungover sleep.
It’s been a considerable personal challenge living here. For as exciting as it is to experience total change in every part of life at such a fast pace, it’s also depressing to realize that everything you left behind is continuing on in its own normal way. I didn’t realize this was going to happen when I left two months ago, and it really came to the surface once I checked in at the airport in Minneapolis and I was left to mull it over in solitude for the next 24 hours. At some point, every dream that comes to fruition has its dark period. I waited and dreamt for years to become a teacher and live abroad, and through quite a bit of good luck it happened much sooner than most people expected. My plans didn’t originally include living somewhere quite this remote or teaching in a school quite this ridiculous, but I’ve never been one to wind up with the most sensible or peachy-keen experiences anyway. My low point is realizing that pretty much everything I expected to happen hasn’t, and for the definite near future, it won’t. It makes it hard to keep a positive attitude about waiting out my time here in the Kingdom and hoping things will improve, but I’m trying, much harder than at other times, to keep from throwing in the towel. I know that in time, and with effort, things will, inevitably, get better. Because honestly, how could they really get any worse.