Things have been kind of quiet around here on the blog for awhile. Lately, I’ve been doing good if I crank out a post a month. Sorry about that. But I’m still here. And plan to be for a good long while, inshallah.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Truth be told, there have been a lot of things going on in my life, currently resulting in a couple of rather major bits of news to share. And each one of them honestly warrants a blog post in its own right, but you know what, I think I’ll be a wild child and share ’em both in this one post.
It’s that time of year. The weather is gorgeous here in Saudi Arabia–just warm enough during the day that swimming sounds like fun, but not hot enough that you feel like you’re roasting in an oven when you step outdoors. It’s the kind of weather that makes people sit outside in their hosh and bake in the soothing sun while simultaneously lamenting, “Oh…summer is coming.”
And along with the gorgeous summer weather comes the urge to escape…because there are certain things that you just can’t do here. (At least, not in most places.) A few nights ago, Mr. Mostafa, whose work schedule has been about a thousand shades of crazy lately (you know, he’s an accountant, and it’s “the season”), was tossing around the idea of taking a weekend trip to Bahrain soon for some sun and relaxation (even though we just went–somewhat disastrously–a few months ago). “We’re both so stressed,” he said. “I think we need a little vacation.”
I don’t know if we’ll get around to a Bahrain trip soon. But I understand what he’s saying. And last week, I got a Whatsapp message from a friend here in Riyadh, another American married to a Saudi, letting me know that she and her kids were heading to Dubai for the week. “We haven’t left the country since September,” she said. “We need a break. Husband is going for a business trip. Kids and I are going for the pool.” Complete with laughing face emojis, of course. As though an explanation were actually necessary.
We all get it. Even most Saudis get it. Although I find Saudi Arabia much more livable than most Westerners can believe, we all need breaks from it. On long weekends and school vacations, the causeway that connects Bahrain to Saudi Arabia is jam packed with Saudis crossing the bridge for some time in Bahrain. And every time I get home to Riyadh from a trip to Bahrain or Dubai or someplace like that, I find myself thinking that there are some simple things that Riyadh could change that would probably keep a whole bunch of its own citizens within the borders on weekends and holidays, spending money and pumping up local economies. Obviously, I’m not Saudi, but I am married to one, and I can safely say that there are only a few things that we really notice the loss of whenever we get back. But they are important things.
It’s time for the next installment of my series of interviews with my Saudi in-laws! This time I sat down with my brother-in-law, Suleiman. I first met Suleiman when he was maybe 15 or so, and now he’s all grown up and graduating from college this spring! He’s a good kid, and as you could probably glean by reading the interview, he’s the Mostafa who is most serious about the development of my Arabic language skills; he quizzes me constantly and always pushes me to get better, which I appreciate, even when he’s a pain in the butt about it. Like before, I started out by asking him a few basic questions, and then moved on to questions submitted by readers. Here’s what he had to say.
Okay, here we go. Introduce yourself.
Why would I introduce myself? You know me.
You’re not introducing yourself to me, you’re introducing yourself to the readers!
Okay. My name is Suleiman Mostafa. I study industrial engineering at King Saud University in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. I’m 22 years old. I’m single. I’m a full-time student. That’s my life.
My mom left Riyadh on Friday night. She headed back home to the States, after a two-week visit. It was wonderful having her here. For the two days prior to her departure, we both bawled pretty consistently in anticipation of her leaving.
This is one thing that I wish I had understood and been more prepared to deal with before I moved to Saudi Arabia–leaving my mom never gets easier. And it’s just never going to get any easier. I guess I expected that on some level, I’d get used to it. Like, I figured I’d develop some sort of emotional scar tissue that would let me not waste the last two days of my time with her (and other members of my family) on crying jags. I figured I’d be okay after awhile. But I still cry every single time. And so does she. It never gets easier for either of us.
The ironic thing is, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it more than once here on the blog over the years, is that if I only had a bad relationship with my mom, with my parents, then this negative part of life in a foreign country would be completely eliminated. But I adore my parents. I think they’re the most wonderful parents that God could have given me. I’m grateful for them every day. And I’m also grateful for the incredible technology that we have nowadays that keeps me connected to them–I’m pretty sure I would not have survived this move if there were no such thing as video chatting.
My mom is here in Riyadh for a visit, and I am thrilled. Obviously. I always miss my mom, but I was especially in need of a mom hug after the week we had before she arrived.
Shortly before Christmas, after my plans with a friend got cancelled, we decided to make an impromptu trip to Bahrain for a few days of relaxation and holiday cheer. We were enjoying our time, soaking up the Christmas music and decorations. And then disaster struck. (A pretty mild disaster, in the grand scheme of things, but it was still somewhat traumatic for all of us.)
Since we arrived in our hotel room, Lavender had been fascinated by the bidet. She loved to run into the bathroom and play with the bidet and call, “Wash hands! Wash hands, Mama!” See, the bidet was exactly Lavender’s height, so she just thought it was a cool sink that happened to be exactly her size. Needless to say, we weren’t super thrilled about the idea of her playing a hotel room bidet, you know? It didn’t seem super sanitary. Not to mention that she seemed to be fascinated by everything in general in the bathroom, and she kept trying to stand on the bidet and boost herself up onto the bathroom sink/countertop. And that didn’t seem super safe at all.