It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a blog. I’ve been on the road for the five-week block of Ramadan since the middle of May, and this year it was not much of a vacation.
As I settle back into my routine at home here in Riyadh, battling the jetlag, contemplating a topic, I find myself at an impasse. Looking through the pages of my journal it’s clear that I’ve been on an epic emotional journey, which seems a perfect theme for an emotional creature to muse over.
But as I wrote and scratched out, wrote and scratched out again, it soon became apparent that I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I became so consumed with worry about how my family might feel that I couldn’t be open and honest about my own feelings.
My first reaction was to feel irritated. Then I felt shut down. I questioned my integrity and validity as a writer. But I couldn’t set down my pen, for it is the key to my dreams.
During a complaintive rant to my Mister, I realized I didn’t have to give up writing. I just had to give up writing about my family. I had an epiphany that this was the next chapter in my letting go saga. And so….
I was feeling excited as I prepared for our departure out of Riyadh. We were about to embark on the twenty-plus hour journey that would have Mister and I reunited with our families for two weeks. The anticipation had my heart beating loudly and my mind racing.
As I dressed in my loose-fitting pants, long-sleeved blouse and floor-length cardigan instead of an abaya, I felt nervous, wondering if I would bear the brunt of sideways glances or open leers. As it was, no one seemed to care or even notice at all. I discovered later that most expat women haven’t bothered with abayas at the airport for years and what I thought was courageous was in fact a bit behind the times.
After only three hours into it I was already feeling done. By the time we arrived in Victoria I was feeling grumpy and exhausted, my lousy disposition depriving me from fully appreciating the clear blue, sunny skies and fresh air of Vancouver Island.
As soon as I saw the faces of my loved ones, though, my grumpiness was obliterated, replaced totally and completely with the most powerful of all emotions, love.
When we arrived at the location of our Airbnb, our host was running late and I found myself feeling impatient and frustrated. He sent his partner over instead and upon unlocking the door to the rental and lugging in our heavy suitcases we discovered it hadn’t been cleaned after the last renters, with dirty sheets and towels in the tub, food containers on the counter, and carpets filthy with lint and crumbs.
Things got sorted out eventually. The rental agent set us up in a different condo while the house was cleaned, although not to my satisfaction, and we settled in.
We had planned to host a family potluck, but in light of the challenges with our accommodation we chose to change gears. We picked up wine and snacks and once everyone arrived we all scoped the menu from one of our favourite local restaurants, Sizzling Tandoor, and we each chose a dish. The food arrived hot and flavourful, the spicy aroma of curries well-suited to the lively conversation.
Mister and I had a long list of things to do while in Canada, including getting our documents together to apply for a Panamanian driver’s license. In the process I was given the unfortunate news that my license had been cancelled during my absence when I failed to complete a requested medical update. I was feeling disappointed and a loss of independence, but I didn’t even have time to process. It was the first in a string of unfortunate events and time just didn’t allow for it.
I was feeling completely exhausted, wishing for nothing more than to crawl into bed and sleep, but family stuff came up and I ended up not getting enough sleep. That, combined what a still looming list of things to do and an intention to create meaningful connection with all of the members of my family, had me feeling stressed out.
Mister and I decided a good, strong work-out would be an excellent way to de-stress, so we signed up at Studio 4 Fitness, our old gym from back in the day. Afterwards I could feel the adrenaline and other happiness hormones kick in and I we both felt better.
One of our tasks was a relatively enjoyable one – looking for a wardrobe update for Mister at his favourite local menswear store, Outlooks. The customer service there is second to none, and within minutes the friendly staff had selected a variety of items that would suit Mister’s build. He stepped out to model a pair of dark wash skinny leg denim jeans and I think my jaw dropped, they looked that amazing on him. Feeling very attracted to my P.
After shopping we met up with my Mom at a restaurant of her choosing called Fish Hook. It was a sunny day and as we sat on the patio overlooking the wharf I felt warm, inside and out. The wine was yummy and the food, a delightful Indian-West Coast fusion that was amazing. Mom and I shared flaky sablefish pakoras with a crazy-delicious dipping sauce. It was the first time since discovering my wheat allergy that I’d been able to savour the crunchy yumminess of deep fried fish as the chef substituted chick pea flour, and it was divine.
As the days unfolded I found myself feeling at the end of my rope, overwhelmed with the situation I’d put myself in. I’d given myself too many tasks in too short of a time. I was wishing I was anywhere in the world but where I was, trying to please everyone, except me.
At one point a group of us decided to make the drive up the Malahat from Victoria to Duncan. We stopped at a viewing point to take in the grandeur of the valley and for a moment I felt expansive, present to the healing rhythms of nature.
Together, Mister and I we were able to make a few other good decisions. One day we decided that while completing our errands we’d stop in at an Italian restaurant, Zambri’s, for a lunch date. Just the two of us. We each ordered a glass of Italian red wine and I savoured the seared tuna salad while David chose the gnocchi in a flavourful red sauce. We shared our dreams, our thoughts and our feelings, and I felt so deeply in love with my Mister.
Throughout it all, I was full up with gratitude for the “we’re in this together” attitude of partnership I share with my Mister. We worked as a team to resolve the challenges that presented and shared the heaviness of the load. I appreciated the ease, flow, harmony and authenticity I experience in my relationship with my P.
Too soon, our time in Victoria was over. I felt teary-eyed as I said my goodbyes to my crazy, beautiful, blended family, not knowing when or where we’ll meet next, but knowing they’ll be in my heart, always. “You’re right here,” E.T.-style.
So yeah, I’m feeling all of my emotions after returning to Canada to be with family.