A few short days ago, I was sitting outside on the deck of my brother's home in America's lovely Pacific Northwest enjoying the cool summer breeze caressing my face. His home has a beautiful view of the shimmering blue waters of Colvos Passage and beyond that sits the lush tree-covered Vashon Island. Several sailboats glided aimlessly before me, across the sparkling expanse of water under the warming sun and the puffy-fluffy clouds. A bald eagle was surveying the landscape from his position on a branch up in a nearby tree, frequenting one of his favorite perches. Flowers in every color of the rainbow seemingly smiled at me from the garden. A family of raccoons, the mother with her four babies, plodded along near the bushes on the side of the grassy plain in the backyard, while two of the house cats intently watched their every move not far from me on the deck. A couple of deer appeared and attempted to nibble off the rosebuds from my sister-in-law's bushes, but she had outsmarted them with a special netting deterrent. Once they realized there were no tasty rosebuds to be devoured, they made their way through the bushes and out of sight. Colorful birds of yellows, blues and reds visited the seed-filled bird feeder situated off to the side of the deck. It was a beautiful, peaceful and perfect day.
As I was digesting all the beauty and tranquility of the nature around me, I couldn't help but think that in a couple of days I would be leaving this little piece of heaven on earth to go back to a place that feels like an oppressive oven and where I have to dress almost completely covered in black from head to toe. To a country where I cannot drive and don't have the freedom to come and go as I please. Where I have no place to enjoy the outdoors because of our living situation and because it's too hot anyway. Into an environment of massive cement buildings, and dust, and pollution. Where my life is boring more often than not, and the restrictions placed on me, as a woman, limit my creativity and my quality of life. Far away from my own family who have repeatedly told me that I am welcome back with them whenever I want. Where my son cannot enjoy himself in doing normal American things like camping, or going to concerts or the movies, and innocently goofing off with the opposite gender.
I had to think to myself that I must be crazy to be leaving this paradise to return to a male dominated and strictly religious society like Saudi Arabia. I just knew I needed to go back though, back to my husband, the love of my life for the last thirty-two years. He warmly greeted us at the airport with a smile on his face that told me how much he had missed my son and me in our absence. We came home to an apartment that was spic and span - and we have no maid like most families here do. A huge basket full of many of my favorite things - like chocolates, perfumes, bubble bath, and cashews - awaited me. And when I told him I wanted to try to lose some weight for my upcoming high school reunion, he said, "No, don't. I like you just the way you are." These are little things, I know, but it's the little things that mean a lot.
Am I miserable living in this desert kingdom? No. Is Saudi Arabia my first choice of where I want to live in this world? No. But for now, this is where I belong, beside my husband, the man I have loved for more than thirty years. The man who stole my heart so many years ago with his goodness and kindness and generosity. Ah, yes, the things we do for love.