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Posts tagged ‘True life story’

First year-2009

DSC05486Several of my friends as well as acquaintances in Riyadh had departed without their children in tow, returning to various locations around the globe. While the choice to leave appeared to be voluntary none of us knew the circumstances that had lead to their decision. Marriages that had fallen apart, abuse and the inability to legally remove youngsters from the country resulted in little ones who were left behind. Memories of dear friends separated from their toddlers as well as teenagers were still fresh in my mind and so the tiny window that gave a view from the walkway into our apartment had been spray painted and covered by a piece of printer paper. Although we had made it back home, the idea of losing my children kept anxiety out of control for years to come.

Summer faded into Fall and a routine that was oddly familiar took shape. The tiny townhouse had come together with furniture that had been procured from the Union Gospel mission as well as odds and ends from mom and dad’s wood house. An alarm buzzed and prodded until we climbed out of bed and readied ourselves for the first day of school. There were no more long trips with a driver and the past few years of homeschooling had been exchanged for a public school that could be seen from the upstairs apartment window. We were together and no one had been left behind in Saudi, making it seem as if somehow all would be well.

Documents and papers were shuffled and stacked until everything was finally in order. A quick trip to the school meant walking out of the apartment door, into the parking lot and through a rickety wooden fence. Vaccination records were not available and birth certificates had taken weeks to arrive, being classified as a Birth abroad report from the consulate. I had met with the principal, teachers and office personnel but still felt that this was somehow wrong and I was at the center of upheaval and a leap into uncertainty. Mother reminded me that it was for the better good and school was part of a new freedom.

Summer love-2

This is a series detailing how I met him and how things began. If you missed the first story you can find it here.

https://lynzrealcooking.com/2018/06/01/1-summer-love-life-story/

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Summer love-2

Pullman, Wa. 1982

A shaded silhouette just outside the apartment kept its pace and could be seen through smoke laden curtains. Finally silence was broken with a knock at the door. I had been watching the thin figure as it made its way back and forth several times and now there he stood, the man from the previous day.

Sweaty hands left an imprint on the vinyl couch and loose hair flitted back and forth, masking a full view of the kitchen and entrance to the apartment. I fidgeted with a loose piece of material and tapped my fingers nervously, giving my sister the look that meant I was thoroughly annoyed. A repeat of the initial conversation was now whispered and gained volume with each syllable and expletive. My position had been clearly stated and left nothing more to be discussed.

He was handsome with olive skin and black curly hair, dark brown eyes and a black moustache made him look mature and self-assured. His thick accent and rudimentary language skills made hand gestures necessary but it was clear he was asking me out for a drink. He had borrowed a friends’ car and was waiting, it would be quick and harmless. It seemed ridiculous to continue protesting and it would make my sister and her boyfriend happy. One simple night out and life would then return to normal.

He drove to a nearby town where we sat for hours in the local hotel lounge. A polite and respectful exchange slowly drifted into intimate glances and eventually a tender press of his lips onto mine. He had a different way about him, doors opened, gentle words were spoken and an overall sense of a grounded person was presented. A reminder still tugged at my brain cautioning me to be guarded but I would not be deterred from following my heart.

My story- liar liar

Al-Khobar 2008

Words that were not allowed in our vocabulary made up a list that changed and shifted and seemed somehow ambiguous. Anything disrespectful or prideful was quickly suppressed and marked as ungodly and even blasphemous.  The usage of “ok” might be seen as objectionable if given in a solemn or what might be construed as flippant manner.  But now these two words rang out in bare rooms and empty walls, signaling hostility and confusion.

He had given me the rewards voucher months before, instructing me to use it on whatever gave me pleasure or was needed. Every so often he would bring the subject into conversation and question me, wondering what had become of the certificate. Each time I would pause and ask him what it was to be used for and he would respond that it was up to me.  It held its position tucked neatly away in the side pocket of a diaper bag until holidays approached and an idea shuffled through my mind.

Gifts had been forbidden in our household until a few years prior when Osama questioned the validity of this unspoken rule and finally convinced him to supply the funds for holiday presents.  It was always a stretch and we knew to pick and choose wisely; practical, inexpensive and exchangeable. A modest sum of money was secured and then doled out to each member of the household. But recently everything had changed and with the older boys away at University things had returned to a veto on the exchange of gifts.

A chuckle came from his mouth but was indistinguishable as levity, anger or mere frustration. Our vehicle swerved between cars recklessly and gained speed only to come to a quick and abrupt pause when necessary. The box in question sat precariously on a lap in the front seat, shuffling from side to side. The mall entrance could be seen in the back window and now a day of shopping, food and frivolity seemed reckless and arrogant. A foolish view of reality and a blip into the real world had marred my judgement and remnants of lunch were taken home instead of dumped prior to exiting the boundaries between home and mall.

In an attempt to pacify his anger I explained that I had used my money from tutoring for a day of holiday gift shopping and purchased pizza with the voucher.  I looked at the box that sat on the kitchen counter and with it came the realization that once again I had failed to understand him. He insisted on seeing the voucher although he knew it had already been used. The usual rules would have been followed and no words of our trip to the mall, food or fun would have been mentioned.  But this time somehow I clicked back into the real world and having been pushed to have fun, I did so.

A firm stance was not a sign of defiance on my part but imperative to keep legs from giving way. He held the drill in one hand securing nails for curtain fasteners, waving it intermittently to emphasize each syllable. YOU ARE A LIAR A THIEF A calm demeanor overtook him when grabbing hooks and drill bits from the children’s hands. When fury timed out he spoke of taking them to dinner, offering numerous choices including favorite American restaurants that were most often seen as unfavorable. He gently pinched cheeks, smiled and inquired as to their choice of eateries. The creaky borrowed ladder shook and waved upon a return to the diatribe that started upon entrance to the villa. His tirade peaked and waned, eventually subsiding after piles of endless fury had been depleted.  Each child looked wary of his words but also knew their role in this ongoing escalation. The project was complete and he insisted on taking at least two children out for dinner.

 

Weekly review

This was my week in case you missed anything!

https://lynzrealcooking.com/2017/10/02/family-time-3/

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https://lynzrealcooking.com/2017/10/03/the-brave/

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https://lynzrealcooking.com/2017/10/04/autumn-gold/

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https://lynzrealcooking.com/2017/10/05/give-me/

https://lynzrealcooking.com/2017/10/06/road-trip-4/

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https://lynzrealcooking.com/2017/10/07/skin-check/

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Morning villa-1993

I am revising these parts of my book and will share them with you. Last week I posted Nothing on top of nothing 

https://lynzrealcooking.com/2017/08/16/a-update-on-the-book/

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Morning villa

 

A piercing pain roused me from a partial state of sleep and wakefulness. I peered out of one eye to see that things had not changed and were as I remembered them. Ten large boxes had been retrieved from the car-park area, lugged up the stairs and placed along the empty living room wall. Scraps of tape, labels and pieces of cardboard lay strewn along the coarse and ragged carpet.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, allowing my mind to have regrets for a brief instant. I had never authorized such sick and repugnant thoughts, nor had I conceded defeat until this moment. Pain locked my hips and back into a vicious cycle of roll and push, until I reached a crawling position. An intermittent grinding shifted through my stomach, signaling hunger that would no longer abate. My hair was drenched in perspiration, sweat dripped onto the worn brown blanket that had served as a bed for the children and I.

I pulled Foof next to her siblings and prepared to stand, one last glance at the children reassured me that everyone was accounted for. I reminded myself that I was fortunate, even spoiled as he repeatedly stated when the real me dared to surface. I searched for things to be grateful for, an old tattered brown and tan blanket and pillows that had been unwittingly tossed into boxes at the last-minute.

I surveyed the villa in the light of day and surmised that things looked much the same as they had the previous night, every line on the walls, each crack through the plywood and the lack of furniture had not changed.  I felt a sudden twinge of disbelief and bewilderment, building tension gave into pulsing words that could no longer be denied, “I do not have to be the perfect wife”. Repulsion gripped my entire being as I grappled with this foreign and abhorrent concept.  I composed myself and tried to remember that I was a God-fearing, good woman who had duties and responsibilities.

An unwavering resolve took over and I scanned the room for a way to bring cool air into this stagnant space. I reached up towards the brown plastic window and pulled back and forth until it relented. A gentle breeze made its way towards me, mucky sweat dried on my forehead and a momentary relief washed across the room.

The children moved restlessly back and forth, each holding firmly to their position on the bed that had been fashioned from the old brown blanket. It had not occurred to me that we would need food and water until my lips and mouth felt parched and sore. I wandered to the area that looked most like a kitchen and once again saw the sink that stood alone on the opposite wall. No stove, refrigerator or cupboards, no food or water were to be found.

I wiped my face and scoured the room; sure that he had left provisions for the day. A white plastic sack had been overlooked and sat randomly on the counter; five small bottles of warm water and 1 container of melted mango ice cream were the contents.

The visit-5

The last time he came was May 2015. This is part 5 of an ongoing story about our lives. You can catch up by looking at The Visit for parts 1-4.

 

Brown paper lunch bags   Apple slices    grapes   a blue plate

Shaky hands picked up bread and stacked it on the coveted plate. This was Foof’s plate or so she said as she argued, grabbing it from See See. Giggles could be heard throughout the lake house until mom stepped in and handed the girls each a plate to take home.  A simple plastic plate. The morning sky hung a lavender and orange painting, casting it’s reflection across what seemed like miles of placid water. Mom scooped coffee from the white jar, making a contrast against the playful blue counters, “Lynnnnnieeee coffees on”.  My mind snapped back to peanut butter and jelly. Three sandwiches, maybe five, two more for the college kids, no Foof would not be going today, would she?  I stacked another 4 slices of bread on the blue plastic plate, home and safety. Should I cut apple slices or wash grapes. The Assembly, Soos won first place for her painting, Idaho. The accomplishment would be recognized, we had to be there. How could we sneak out, humiliation, fear. I stared down at the plate, struggling to remember who I was.

My strong stance against oppression had failed and once again I faced the inevitable conclusion that we were trapped. A sick and infectious feeling took over as we came to grips with our new reality. The days of hiding prohibited food items, clothing and even ideas, crept back with insidious fervor. The incident had not been mentioned, and like the years spent in Saudi it appeared to be another faded page in a life of guarded existence. Thoughts of calling the police were thrown aside and stuck into the category of precarious after weighing the potential outcome and upheaval that was sure to follow. My brain failed to connect the dots, silence and composure were imperative and had served me well for years and so I vowed to walk the tightrope once again.

His usual raucous footsteps were now soft and silent as he walked into the kitchen undetected. He moved closer and smiled trying to capture my attention, greeting me with the standard Arabic phrase- Peace be unto you.   As he inched closer a frantic angst pushed me to wash, rinse and scramble through the morning routine putting an unsettling distance between us. He stayed put, leaning against the counter, watching my every move. He grinned and made small talk as if nothing had happened just the day before. My hands shook uncontrollably as I opened brown paper lunch sacks trying to avoid eye contact. His words hit my senses, emotions spiraled out of control. “Lynn you always choose not to see how much I love you” Total chaos held me together in a pattern of zig zagged pieces. I looked down at the plate, large drops of fluid fell from my eyes, tears or water, sadness.

 

The visit-3

“Two mochas, low fat turkey sandwich and a chocolate croissant, warmed up please.” Wrappers littered the van floor, an account of our vagabond lifestyle. Each day was spent driving around the tiny town we now called home, searching for answers and a way to bring about a temporary peace in what had descended into a tumultuous environment. Ordering fast food, driving past green hills of the Spring Palouse and finally wearily heading towards Saleeha’s little downstairs apartment. What had once been viewed as a dingy, first residence, now served as a safe haven and refuge.

Leaving our home that day seemed scandalous and sickening; it was not me, not Lynn. I was raised in a “good and respectable” home, a loyal wife and companion, accepting whatever was given to me and making the best of it. Now abuse had knocked at the door and there was no way to deny its entry into our lives. Numerous excuses had been made for his controlling and aggressive behavior, but never had this reality actually been inescapable until it openly became physical.

Shame and guilt were evident in a last ditch effort to co-exist, not call police and pretend that we were still a family, that I was not a failure as mother and wife. My first reaction was to flee, take the children for the remainder of his visit and stay at Saleeha’s place. My desire to keep things on an even keel and eliminate any further humiliation won out and after hours of wandering aimlessly around our small city, we finally drove up the hill and opened the door.

He sat in the middle of the couch, a small but self-assured grin spread across his lips. He looked straight at me and asked me what my plans were for the rest of the day. The events had been erased and once again I felt that it had been my doing, my fault.

 

Click–True life story

I shut the door and quietly clicked the lock into place, covertly listening for little voices as I moved closer to his bed. He sat upright running his hands over the stubble that marked his balding head. A heavy sigh exited his mouth, he managed a sideways grin as if to say he understood that crazy was now where we resided. He didn’t know how much more he could take of my insolence and rebellion, how to rectify this situation or how to fix my broken and deteriorating condition. I stood before him in a shambles, picking nervously at the jagged skin that now marked my face and hands. I felt that I could no longer remain erect, waves of sick and debilitating weakness made my legs sway and twitch.

Giggles and nervous footsteps made their way past the door, stopping momentarily before moving forward.  I gathered myself together once again and placed my feet firmly on the marble floor. I had struggled for several years now, fighting off rebellion that had been fueled by ugly realization and awareness. My existence had become a regimen of locking, checking, monitoring and daily inquisitions.  I questioned each and every movement, making sure that a small pan had not been placed on a large burner, all legs of the couch were either on the rug or off, curtains were drawn and secured at nightfall and that I was always at the ready, waiting to serve. Old worn work pants hung around my waist, laced with blotches of bleach and cleaners, a tattered shirt that served as pajamas and day time attire was stained with sweat and grime, no frills allowed. I inched my way closer to him as tears fell, at first softly and then in waves of indignant humiliation, hoping to purchase another day of peace and freedom.

The book-The beginning

I have a possible beginning so here it is. Let me know what you think. I jump immediately into meeting him right after this. Just playing with different things so a little blip of what I am working on.

A single stream of light made its way through a crack in the villa door. My hips throbbed in an unbearable, stiffening pain, but I lay frozen not daring to move in what seemed like hours of excruciating silence. Two small figures lay near me, outlined by a sheet, delicate eye lashes and soft foreheads were highlighted by beads of sweat. Feigning sleep had become the norm but my body could no longer be still and trembled under the force of gravity. I quickly moved my leg in a heavy jerking motion and took the chance to roll over, freeing my hips from their locked and stationary position. A wave of relief and pain ran from my lower spine down to my thighs, cracking and popping with each adjustment. I surfaced from blankets and sheets to gasp for fresh air, still monitoring my intake, making sure it sounded like a sleeper’s light and steady pattern. A light switch flicked on and off casting small shadows on the door, cars could be heard speeding on the nearby highway and now footsteps made a click clack down the marble hallway. My heart seemed to stop and race alternately, leaving me in a new found state of panic. There were no tears, just sick silent sobs of desperation, praying to God that I would not be taken away from my children and cast out onto the streets of Al-Khobar. Each and every hour he returned and stood motionless over me, I could still hear the voice over my head, at first it beckoned and welcomed me and then it became louder and more agitated,” lynn lynn lynn LYNN ARE you awake?”  He had not been back for two hours and I had lulled myself into an uncomfortable and partial sleep, hoping that his rage had run the usual course. The clicking moved closer and with each movement a burning reality flashed before me. His threats might finally become intertwined with real life and I could be extricated from this villa, made to stand out in the streets of Al-Khobar and eventually shipped off to Riyadh, leaving my children behind.  I closed my eyes, prayed and practiced sleep.

True life story–Naivete

Writing a book is hard work! At this point it is a huge mess, pages of miss matched stories and free writing. I am proud that I have stuck to my writing days and to leaving home to get some focus. I thought I would take a break and do a short story for the blog and to attend Senior Salon,  Haddon Musings   This story is set in 2002, when residents of the Western compound were forced to move out. We had lived there for 6 years and it was finally time to leave.

Management made the announcement, residents would need to empty the compound and make other living arrangements. A large sum of money was given to employees and within weeks everyone would be vacating their homes. Neighbors and friends toured various residential facilities and scrambled to find a suitable replacement. He displayed genuine interest and we trailed behind him searching for a new residence. Each day he carted us along to upscale apartments, new homes and modern compounds and insisted that the ultimate decision was in my hands. I naively perused brochures, asked residential managers for advice and thoughtfully prepared for the move.

I tossed the last box onto a stack of ragged cardboard and remembered similar ones that had stood lined along the villa wall years before. This house was a far cry from where we had started, an empty, unfurnished villa in Riyadh. It was also lacking the finishing touches and amenities that we had grown accustomed to on the compound. White rusted bars framed the window and jagged metal wire held pieces of dining room chairs into place. I felt a twinge of guilt remembering my defiant and ungrateful attitude when he chose this place. Although I had learned that voicing my opinion was futile and ultimately brought more anguish to our household, this time a bitter fury spilled out and could no longer be contained. Enough money had been supplied for our family to move to a similar setting but this was seen as a waste and a luxury. I had defiantly and almost mockingly it seemed, accepted his words at face value and when forced to agree with his choice willingly, a resounding opposition rang out. Several days of insubordination were met with fiery silence and warnings of what was to come. I finally conformed and agreed that yes this was surely the best place for our family. Tears welled up as I held the last box, cut the tape and broke it down just as I had for each and every one, but somehow this one was different, unique. It signaled the finality of this move and all that it entailed. We would once again be on our own, living outside of the Western compound that had been our home for the past 6 years.The confines of the compound walls had not only been lacking in our standard isolation, but also inclusive, providing  furniture, mini mart, recreation center and transportation. It was the most normal environment that we had resided in and as Osama solemnly reminded me, we would once again be on our own, left to fend for ourselves.

 

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