Fall 2009, just 4 months after relocating to the U.S. midnight paper route A single stream of light blanketed the room and served as a reminder to quietly roll off the mattress that mom and dad had purchased from the thrift store and rise to prepare for the morning route. A faded diploma in Speech comm. and years of being a stay at home mom made options limited when searching for employment. The two youngest children suffered from extreme separation anxiety and even a simple trip to the restroom required promises to never leave and assurances that I would return within minutes. They accompanied me to my job as a cook for a girl’s co-op on campus and so the supplemental income of a paper route or perhaps two, seemed logical and almost easy. The older kids would be in the next room sleeping and I would slip in and out without notice. Each of my two older girls agreed to help take turns and so our little adventure began.
The stack grew wider and taller and was finally deposited on the back seat of the Suburban. Cuts on fingers from winding and wrapping rubber bands had now turned to hard rough scars, resistant to further damage or pain. Small town lights flashed yellow and red, a signal only surpassed by the harvest moon that illuminated our usual routine through darkened country roads. At first it had been tough remembering the various homes that took one of three newspapers but soon it became automatic and something that would be recalled for years to come. It seemed like a good idea at the time, an easy way to help support my family and our new life back in the States. I would be home by 5 a.m. just in time to get breakfast on and wake the two boys who attended public school. The youngest children would not be panicked by my absence and their siblings were there in case they woke. But now it had become a burden, gas for mom and dad’s vehicle was not worth the money made delivering the morning news. Just one more week and it would be over and back to what had become our new normal.
My new career is that of being an author! I have been a cleaner, cook and newspaper lady in addition to my favorite career-MOM! I self published my first poetry book a week ago! Thanks for your support and love!
I will be giving away a book each week for a month starting next week. My e-book can also be purchased for a fairly low price on Amazon.
on the way to the mall
Events of the night before slowly drifted back, the crunch of dead cockroaches under foot, leaving the airport and walking into a rush of hot blustery air and driving aimlessly through the same neighborhood numerous times. Each and every street looked the same, an open garbage dumpster positioned in a vacant lot, empty pop cans, plastic bags and remnants of shwarma sandwiches all lay strewn in piles that scattered the street. Ferule cats snuck in and out of the make shift landfill, eyes glowing in the dark, skulking stealthy, looking more like predators than harmless felines. Workers stood rag and bucket in hand, dressed in ratty pants and shirts, scarves draped around their nose and mouth to filter out the dust and sand that swirled endlessly. They waved, flagging down cars in hopes of making a few riyals. Saudi boys kicked footballs, stirring up dust, their thobes ( long garment worn by Saudi men) hiked up and tucked haphazardly into their surwals (pants underneath a thobe) making it easier to maneuver during a routine game.
It appeared that each and every block was interchangeable and he had no more knowledge of this area than we did. A long line of cement walls with metal gates that enclosed tan colored villas looked to be one unit. He swerved in and out of traffic, looping around and back again to the same neighborhoods, stopping to peer momentarily at the vehicles lined up near the curb. An exasperated look crossed his face and sighs of irritation gave way to words uttered under his breath. After several attempts he finally smiled and said “Abu Abudllah’s truck”(downstairs neighbor and owner of the villa). He parked the vehicle and exited to open the large rusty gate that stood in front of yet another row of impenetrable walls enclosing block like cement homes.
The van that had been borrowed from a Saudi friend was fully equipped with a/c, luxury seats and a small television. He pulled out into the street and then backed into the parking area. An empty carport stood before us, hundreds of dead cockroaches lay on their backs, evidence of a recent fumigation in preparation for our arrival. One lone palm tree waved in the intermittent breeze struggling to grow among the concrete of this enclosure. I smiled and sucked down a wave of panic, thinking to myself that surely this was not the place we would call home. After all, I had paid my dues, had been the perfect and dutiful wife for ten years, living with bits and pieces of old furniture that Saudis left behind when returning home, had converted to a new religion and followed it to the letter. I turned away from my old life, singing jazz, pictures and friends. I told my parents that no gifts were allowed for holidays and did not resist when he announced a chosen name for each and every newborn. It was a slow current that drifted away from autonomy and veered toward total lack of control. But this move to Saudi was the ultimate sacrifice and I was sure this time things would be different.
This past Saturday my middle child graduated from University. When we arrived 8 years ago he was 15, had never been to English school and did not have the necessary academic tools to help him succeed. He struggled as many students do, he thought of quitting, it was a difficult time period for all of us.
My children don’t like being in the spotlight and so I will not give the details of his long journey. I will just say, he never gave up and has earned his Bachelor’s degree, found a great job and will be moving away in a few weeks. I feel so many emotions but the one that stands out is– pride. He is an amazing young man, son, brother, uncle, grandson and human being!
The lesson– Never give up.