Full circle

When I was a child I got my first puppy and promptly named her tickles! Years that followed were filled with other cats and dogs. Animals brought a certain comfort and unconditional love.  It was the norm to have pets in our loving and warm household.

Then I married, had children and moved to the middle east, where we lived for 16 years. Pets were frowned upon and even forbidden in our household. When we moved back to the United States the same rule applied and it was a scary concept to even imagine having a pet.

Finally after ten years of living back home my kids helped me and supported me in fulfilling this dream. Last March I adopted my Sophie. In  many ways my life has come full circle and I am getting back to the real me! These photos are of my constant companion and sweet baby! She is beautiful, smart and feisty!

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First year home-2009

This is an ongoing story recounting our first year back in America. There are three parts that can be found on my menu page.

Part one:  https://lynzrealcooking.com/2018/11/09/first-year-2009/

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Fight flight or freeze were words we all knew well. There was never a place to seek refuge in Saudi and fighting might have meant dire circumstances and so the mode of coping was usually freeze. Fighting only ensued when the children were involved and a demeanor of reason, reminders of religious principles and finally a stance of locked rebellion meant that the worst would not come to pass. Battles were picked according to priority which meant safety, basic needs and issues regarding personal liberation but I held firm when it came to my children. I was well versed in the operation of pick and chose, making sure that every decision took its place, stacked upon years of training, seasoned with fear.

The first grade teacher’s voice was no longer sweet and calm but had taken a turn towards dry resolve.  She remarked that my son was clearly not ready for school and that it would be better if he did not return. Her heels clicked on the patterned floor as she marched the other students to the door to line up. We walked to the brightly painted cubby and collected a single backpack, hoodie and lunch bag. No words were spoken and a sense of defeat hung heavy as we unlatched the wooden gate that lead to the apartment parking lot. My three other children who had attended the first day of school also remained silent and the unremarkable yet familiar feeling of dread lagged shortly behind us.

Fattima stood at the ready stirring homemade sauce that bubbled and spattered, leaving red dots on the yellow tinted 70’s stove. She started to ask how it had gone but stopped when she saw my face and instead plated meals and grabbed backpacks. Mom and Dad’s hand me down lake table was opened and chairs positioned near the slider so that the meal could begin. It was a tight fit but the table brought back cheery thoughts of carefree days spent in the paddle boat, laying on the dock and roasting marshmallows.  As each one finished they trudged into the tiny living room and plopped onto the couch.

It was clear that Heme was not going back to school, there was no option given and it was not worth the fight. It was almost a relief to keep him with me as his name had been mentioned and the idea that he should be returned to his father where he belonged. No other child was discussed but a message was clearly sent through a mediator that my youngest child belonged back in Saudi.

Stand on the mountain

Can I be me

Am I that free

Answer to no one

Live in the moment

Smile while you’re laughing

Stand running forward

Chair near the wall

Rug in a corner

Walk through a puddle

Not get in trouble

Joy now reflected

Cook undetected

Talk at the table

Mentally able

Say words that matter

No mindless clatter

Frozen unlabeled

Dust covered shelf

Volumes of life

Marked with a pen

Climb to the top

Stand on the mountain

True story–No match

 

As we head towards the wedding I thought I would repost this story of Ben and Fattima’s romance!

2008

He continued with his lecture on marriage and travel until tears hung in the creases of her eyelids. No decent man would allow his daughter to travel unaccompanied, not even for educational purposes. Her tiny silhouette stood in the form of a young woman, unfortunately the feisty and willful girl who had roamed the compound streets was no longer visible. Tears slowly dripped down her cheeks and onto wistful lips that had once been playful. She struggled to eat meals and found every excuse to avoid food that seemed distasteful and at times repulsive. As an infant and toddler her weight had been low much like her oldest brother and was eventually chalked up to family genes and the transition from breastfeeding to solid food. But now a slow decline was obviously due to lack of appetite and low caloric intake. Visits to the ER were made when stomach pain and distress could not be controlled at home and this continued well into her twenties. The connection between stress, anxiety and mealtime had not been made while still in a state of frozen survival.

A raise in his voice became evident as he circled back to the topic of marriage,when he handed over his duties to a husband it would be up to him, but until then the answer was still squarely no. She would not be allowed to travel with her grandparents to Paris, it was out of the question. Her older sister had been tricked into taking this trip and there was no going back but he could still shield her from this fate. He finished by reminding her that she was not just any girl and a man of upstanding character, wealth and reputable familial lineage would be the only acceptable suitor. A silent laugh and grin emanated from curved lips as he shook his head back and forth.

2018

One last glance in the mirror produced a perfect figure but one that she was not accustomed to. In recent months bits and pieces, curves and a more voluptuous appearance had emerged leaving her both confused and frustrated. The dress fit nicely around her waist but somehow what had seemed delicate and flattering now stood as questionable. It was costly and she could not imagine spending so much for a garment that would be worn only once. A parade of dresses back and forth from dressing room to pedestal where she stood examining every detail were followed by discussion and finally a phone call to her betrothed. She giggled and smiled through a wisp of golden tinged hair until the conversation came to an end. There was no mistaking his feelings, it was up to her and she should be happy. The perfect ring of her choosing, a new home and now a dream wedding were all in her hands. It was clear that the past had faded and was no match for the sincerity of his blue and flawless eyes.

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Happy ending

Foof did get to travel with her sister and grandparents to Paris and then to the United States! A deal of sorts was struck, that they would agree to cover their hair and abide by certain rules and we were able to make it happen. They got to see Paris, stayed at my childhood home in the woods with my parents, played in the snow and went with their brothers to the Oregon coast! They were gone for two months!!

 

 

 

Summer love-9

0725151215.jpgThe trickle of soft red wine being poured into a single glass broke an awkward silence that had until that point had been persistent and unrelenting. I positioned myself to his right and leaned against a blue pillow, casually propping my arm against his. Mom sat on the large white couch making herself comfortable before dinner was served.  It had been a long day like many others and she needed time to unwind which usually meant a warm soak in the tub, music and the occasional glass of red wine. She was a straight-laced, small town, God-fearing woman who remembered where she came from but years of sophistication could not be hidden. Her questions were broad and friendly but it was apparent that she would be honing in on more important details later.

Inquiries regarding education and career goals were interspersed in a causal way that masked a dogged concern regarding his past. He eagerly pieced together sentences and informed her that he was studying Engineering and had already been a draftsman in Damascus for several years. He was the second of 7 children, and his father owned a store in the business district downtown. He smiled graciously and appeared happy, even enthusiastic in response to each and every query.

What he lacked in mastery of the English language he easily made up for tenfold in a polite and appropriate disposition. No request was too large and he would never utter a complaint but contentedly agreed to help whenever needed. A freshly shaven face coupled with dark eyes, black hair and an attitude of worldly yet humble reservation all added to his charm.

His expertise and know how was offered from that point forward in various areas and overshadowed any flaws that might have been visible in this initial stage. A random sheet was sewn into a couch cover for a new floral sofa on the middle floor, a large wooden food dispenser was hand crafted for Bosco and meticulous details on jobs that needed attention were finished in a timely manner.

A dream had become reality but would ever so slowly evolve and blur into abuse, control and rage.

 

 

 

 

Update on the book

For the past few months Saleeha (oldest daughter) has been working on the book. She has organized, suggested and reviewed. I worked last year until I needed a big break but now that school is almost starting I will put my efforts back into finishing the book and first publishing a poetry book. I am new to all of this but feel that it is time! It is something that I have to do or need to do or just a part of the process of recovery but whatever it is, this is the time. Thank you for being there on this journey. Your love and support mean everything! 

Riyadh 2001

Jeans were seen as inappropriate and bad for the bones and female form. Silence gripped the room as he looked up and down rubbing hands across his face and then head, ultimately finding their resting place in his lap. The usual commentary repeated itself and unbeknownst to my scrambled brain, it made little difference what logic I attempted to pursue; she was young and did not have a womanly body, we lived on a western compound where all young girls were allowed to wear jeans and lastly there was no way to return these items. I finished my plea with a reminder that his children were modest beyond the norm and had never engaged in activities that would reflect poorly on him.  A roundabout discussion as to why my parents would bring such offensible items into our home and the improbable threat that he would actually speak with them, ended in tears. It was necessary to place myself on the side of caution and therefore I stood firmly with him. I knew there were only two options, we were either with him or against him. The jeans were rumpled into a ball and placed well away from view, hidden in a vast and endless cavern that contained forbidden actions, thoughts and words.

Her frail figure approached the table and placed the plastic sack down on a chair just beside me, tucking it under miscellaneous jackets, bags and items that were stacked in a pile. Her eyes shifted nervously at first forward and then a slight tilt of her head dared to look behind her. He was nowhere in sight that was the obvious and unspoken conclusion. The younger children voiced their irritation at this seemingly wasted trip to Faisaliah (one of the first malls in Riyadh). Clatter of shoes rubbing against the table jangled our nerves as Heme squirmed and rolled between the table, floor and chairs. The pants were eventually taken from the sack and handed over to my lap where I surveyed their color, length and ability to conceal her tiny figure.

Plain light blue, loose fitting and ordinary, they appeared to be the best that we could find and the only suitable option in this upscale, trendy mall. They looked to be perfect, a replacement for the shiny, fashionable jeans and shirt that Grama had recently brought from America. Grama and Grampa supplied all clothing and as far as she knew that is where necessities came from. A play station, toys, shoes, towels, mixers and of course clothing had become my parents “gift” to the children as well as to him. Dress pants, ties and shirts were purchased and put together into suitable and professional sets and then brought as yearly gifts in boxes that either preceded their visit or came along with them. This was undeniably the most helpful lifeline that we were blessed with but also came to be a sharp double edged sword, both welcomed and dreaded.

Little ones jumped to attention and sat upright, the girls fixed loose hairs and smoothed their abayas and I knew that this was it. He smiled and sat directly opposite my chair and I reciprocated with a grin and nervous laugh. Heme pestered and whined asking for ice cream, cheesecake and fries. I shushed him and placed him on my lap informing Baba (their father) that we had found the perfect pair of pants, a replacement for the distasteful and repulsive ones that had been the topic of discussion just days before. He waited patiently as I took them out and did my best to make them look mundane, unflattering and non-threatening. An exasperated sigh wisped between clenched teeth and parted lips, his eyes rolled back and forward and his hands rested in their place on his lap.

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Summer love- 7- True life story

This is a series regarding the time period when I met him. I hope to shed light on how it all began. The first 6 installments can be found here:

https://lynzrealcooking.com/2018/08/10/summer-love-6/

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Spokane Was. 1982

A single pine cone dropped from a tree that lined the well manicured dirt road. Pine needles and other natural debris were constantly raked and hauled away leaving a pristine entry way to the house that stood on the hill. It was the last of five homes that marked this mile long road and mom insisted that it be picture perfect.

I slowly made my way between two towering pine which had become the parking area for extra cars. The smell of popcorn, hot dogs and concessions permeated my hair and clothing making it necessary to quickly make my way in through the car port door and hopefully straight to the shower. I gingerly opened the door and walked just two feet when I was greeted by his smiling face. He approached me cautiously and placed a single kiss above my forehead.

The noise of Dad’s recliner clanking shut reminded me that he was still home and most likely taking a break between projects. He taught high school English and was the department head but for now it was summer and time was spent checking off jobs that mom had listed on a piece of lined paper. Within minutes Dad walked past and reminded him that they would need to start early morning and might possibly need more supplies. He nodded his head and grinned eagerly,  piecing sentences together that tasked his rudimentary English skills.