Summer has come to a surprisingly abrupt end after spending a long holiday back in the States. Things here in the Kingdom are continuing their normal chaotic pace, but in a strange way I’m glad to be back in the Land of Endless Sun.
I spent a little more than five weeks visiting family and friends, relaxing and drinking, and, rather unsurprisingly, gaining back my usual summer weight. It was nice to experience moderate temperatures and weather that actually changed from day to day, although I can’t say I miss rainy days all that much.
I was fortunate enough to stay at my parent's lake home.
(Which, coincidentally, is their only home.)
This past week I spent quite a bit of time talking with the Brit about his holiday (he’s the proud father of a new baby girl), and more often than not we got to considering how different it is to actually experience a holiday compared to what it’s initially anticipated to be. Prior to leaving at the end of June, the School and Compound were buzzing with anxious teachers trying to tie up loose ends, and working as hard as they could to leave as soon as possible. I have yet to decide whether staying in Saudi for two extra weeks by myself with little else to do but lounge around the pool and drink Sid was worth it, but I do know that for as much as people desperately wanted to leave most of them came back with a slightly cynical perspective about their break.
In a way, that all makes sense. Most anyone can relate to spending a summer or long holiday back from college or a new job or whatever else visiting their parents, seeing old friends (or people who think they’re friends), and generally trying to enjoy time away from their other life. Myself, and many other teachers who seek work abroad, face this reality every year, and, although it sounds quaint, the longer you continue to experience these homecomings the more they never really live up to your expectations. They’re still thought of as one of the few major perks of being a teacher (and, quite frankly, they are), but they also end up forcing you to reevaluate everything you’ve ever thought of when it comes to your place in the world. As deep and discerning and inherently pessimistic as that can be, it can also lead to a better understanding of other more important things.
I wound up anticipating my first homecoming to be a bit more of an occasion than I should have, and after realizing that far too late, it ended up casting a small shadow over the rest of my break, which, in turn, made it hard to come to terms with how my life has changed, and, even more so, where my life is headed. I chose to live a very distant life, leagues away from the every day of my family and closest friends, still able to connect at a moment’s notice but physically separated by an incredibly daunting barrier. I was conscious of that when I first left a year ago, but now I realize the full extent of my decision and how it will continue to effect every other summer from here on out.
I did genuinely enjoy my short time at home. I’m very thankful that I was able to spend as much of it as I did with my closest friends, and I'm fortunate in that I was able to see as much of my family as I could. I know that in 10 months time I'll be able to do it again, which isn't as far away as it may seem. I’m still coming to terms with my place in life, and I’m still working on figuring out where my life is headed. But I do know, at least for now, that it seems like it’s in a relatively good direction.
I guess that’s just part of growing up.