Happiness is: Going home

January 22-February 14, 2015

Happy. Happy. So happy. I’m finally going home!!! After nearly 6 months in Saudi… 6 months with FaceTime and letters/emails being the only contact I’ve had with my family… 6 months of living in a new country half a world away where the culture is completely and entirely different to the one I’ve known all my life… I get to go back home and hug my family, enjoy family dinners and debates, and be surrounded by all things familiar!

Now, my first 6 months in Saudi Arabia have been absolutely brilliant! I couldn’t have dreamed it would be this good! I thought I’d be severely homesick, but the homesickness really comes in waves and at unexpected times… A song, watching people interact with their family in ways I wish I could with my own, a palliative care patient… The little things… They get me homesick! But usually I stay so busy and there’s always something fun to do or to look forward to… So it keeps the homesickness at bay!

For a good week before leaving Riyadh, I felt so happy. The happiness was constantly spilling over. I couldn’t stop smiling, singing, and just loving life! Driving through Riyadh one evening (clarification: sitting in the backseat of a taxi riding through riyadh) looking out at Kingdom tower high above me and Faisaliyah… This city really feels like home some days and often I really do love it here!!! (Maybe I feel that way just cuz I’m leaving… But still).

So… I packed my bags and one Thursday after work, I headed off to the airport and off to Dubai… for a 9 hour layover before carrying on to Seattle. Below: a few of my favourite things: Starbucks, a suitcase, my passport, and boarding passes to somewhere else in the world… this time somewhere else being home!!

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In Dubai, I’d booked the Dubai International Airport hotel. Brilliant idea. Quite possibly the best one I’ve had in a while. I’d just come off a full week of work… and a 10 hour shift… so I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was sit around the airport for 9 hours listening to boarding announcements, never able to fully relax. This  offered me the opportunity to relax in peace and quiet. Nap. Relax in the massage chair. Hit the gym. Shower and freshen up before flying 14.5hrs in a cramped airplane!!

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I hit the gym first for a good pre-flight workout…

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And when I returned to my hotel room and turned on the TV, I saw the terrible news that King Abdullah , the current King of Saudi Arabia had died. A sad day for Saudi Arabia and for the world in general. I’m sure that there will be many changes happening in the time that I am away from Saudi Arabia… a new king will be appointed, King Salman, and I hope that it will all be for the better of the country!

So. Friday morning, I flew out of Dubai headed towards Seattle… up and away above the city… (can’t wait to come back and actually see more of Dubai than just the bird’s eye view!!)… across sandy desert… the great white North… and over into the Pacific Northwest… landing in Seattle in a bit of fog and cloud and damp cold that feels just like home!!!

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Coming up the escalator to meet my parents, I was faced with a dilemma… who to hug first??!!! Fortunately they made the decision easy… my mom taking a picture of me riding up the escalator to them while my dad stood at the top waiting to give me a hug. There were definitely a few tears shed. Honestly… a good proper hold me tight like you never want to let go hug from each of my parents is possibly the best part of coming home. I have missed proper hugs from people I love!!!!

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Honestly though… I absolutely adore these people I call my parents. I am so blessed to be their eldest daughter… to be a part of their family. They have always been my greatest champions and supporters… they love so unconditionally… even when I make decisions that they struggle to accept and support… like moving halfway around the world away from them to Saudi Arabia. And I love them so much more for loving me and supporting me despite disagreeing with that decision. So blessed. And so grateful to be home with them again. Being apart has really opened my eyes to see how much I really truly do appreciate them and everything they’ve done for me through the years!

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So… We drove home in the rain… through Seattle… and back up across the border into my home and native land… Oh Canada!!!

The whole family was gathered together my first night back… and I cherished every moment of family dinner… games (the farming game… yes we’re a bit redneck)… a good proper whiskey beside a cozy fire… sitting on the couch talking with my mom and showing pictures from the last half a year… debates and great intellectual conversations with my dad and brother… Just all the small little things that make home life wonderful.

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I handed out presents from Saudi… boxes of Saudi dates (actually a gift from a patient to me to give to my family)… my little brother got traditional head gear I had picked up on my trip to Egypt (he loved it and insisted on wearing it the whole night)… An adorable bib for my niece that says “somebody in Saudi Arabia loves me”.

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And the best part… cuddles with my niece… who has turned into a chattery vivacious sparkling little thing!!!! Absolutely adore this child and it makes me sad already to think of having to leave her and the rest of my family again!

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And so… that’s about the end of my first evening at home. I am going to thoroughly enjoy every minute of the rest of my time at home!! Already sad when I think of leaving again!!!

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