As we said our goodbyes and left Al-Khobar, the scrub brush and various greenery that comes with being close to the sea all faded away, the red and tan desert hues returned. It was all behind us now,we were going back to our usual routine. I looked out the window at camels and desert and more desert. People always told me that it was very beautiful the way the sand unfolded before you, never ending. But I still missed the pine trees and forest I grew up in, seeing the deer dart across the long windy road up to the house in the woods. The thought of living in Al-Khobar near water was some how comforting or maybe it was the idea of being near relatives. Either way we were now heading back to our life in Riyadh, a certain melancholy surrounded me. I sat in the car looking out at the desert that stretched before me, thoughts of my childhood and the beginning rushed through my mind. I felt a twinge of uncertainty but this could not be addressed, I had made my choices and I needed to now live with them, make the best.
As we returned to our apartment we set back into the daily routine. He walked down the stairs and around the corner to drop the boys at the school. See See and Foof played with baby boy who was now 15 months old, watching him toddle around the house, pushing him in Grama’s perfume scented box. He giggled and crawled out of the box making his way to the kitchen holding onto my legs. I knew my job well and did my best to make things as they should be. When he entered there was to be no sign of anyone living in this place, no toys, no ladylike touches, neat and clean as if no one lived here and in many ways I felt as if we did not.
The idea of moving to Al-Khobar was a hopeful sign of improvement and so far we had only made progress in our new life in Riyadh. Each day he spoke of this job and the beautiful compound that we would move to and each day I followed his words as if they were reality waiting to be played out. There were many rules in the apartment and in order to keep things on an even keel for the children, they had to be followed to the letter. They were young and should not have such restraints, but I could follow and did. My window was still a place of solace and a reminder of those less fortunate.
One day he arrived home with the news that he was offered a job,a new car and compound living. He would need to move to Al-Khobar right away and we would be left at the apartment for 3 months on our own. He would return on most weekends and we would move in the summer. It was a bit unsettling thinking of getting the boys to school and back with 3 small children to cart along, no apparent way of getting out for any necessity and a list of other concerns, but we would be moving to a compound! I was filled with a guarded optimism and started thinking of all that was to come! I stood at the window looking out at the sky, a red haze loomed covering everything in view. There was a sort of beauty to this, as if a red snow storm had engulfed the city. I thought of the cake that had splattered at my feet and tears came to my eyes, I brushed them back as unwelcome reminders. Munira, the older of the female cousins laughed with him about the cake, he laughed back, a laugh I had not heard for years. They joked and spoke in Arabic, I understood little. I saw Munira’s smile turn as she raised her voice and stood. She waved her arms at him and walked toward me as if to shield me from this obvious assault on her senses. She pointed to me and I understood the rest. “He had put his bare foot up to my face and told her with a sheepish grin, yes watch she will kiss my foot, watch!”