At first, this blog served to collect my Riyadh memories. I lived there from 1986 through 1998, first as a medical professional and then as a homemaker. I plan to continue adding memories from time to time, but I’ve evolved, and so should my blog.
During the years of my father’s last illness, 2006-2008, I found myself day-dreaming constantly about my Riyadh days. I also became aware of recurring night dreams in which I would try to return to Riyadh, but would be frustrated in various ways.
I realized that in addition to escaping from the pain of losing my father, I was also trying to recapture the sense of expansion, psychological and spiritual growth that made life during the Riyadh years exciting as well as profoundly satisfying.
Life back in the United States, with all its freedoms, became boring. Going to work every day felt like slavery (and still does). My passions for language and religion languished, necessarily. Would I have actually gone back to Riyadh at that point, just to recapture the sense of stimulation, that exposure to Arabic, that freedom from having to work?
No. I realized that my day-dreaming and night-dreaming about Riyadh indicated that I wished to return not to the actual Riyadh but to a metaphorical Riyadh, where I can break free of routine, where I can discuss Islam and Arabic with people who might understand me, and/or who have had experiences in the Kingdom or other areas of the world.
Most people feel tremendous restrictions while living in Saudi Arabia, even more so in Riyadh than in Jeddah or the Eastern Province. I, too, felt all of the commonly discussed limitations, but I also experienced a magnificent liberation of my spirit, coupled with great intellectual stimulation during the years of my homemaking when I studied Arabic, Islam, Tajweed, and even Italian language, in addition to homeschooling my high-school aged daughter.
I began to think of my blog as a way to return to the metaphorical Riyadh, and hence the sub-title, “Return to Riyadh.”