I’ve retired! I’ve quit my job and do not expect to get another one! I’ve saved enough money, with the blessings of Allah, to support myself. Of course, I need Social Security as well, and one can never predict the future with respect to one’s financial affairs, health, or vagaries of circumstance. I am prepared as much as possible, and I am very happy.
The most important aspect of retirement for me is that I’ve got my life back, in a sense. Now is the time I can Return to Riyadh in actuality, not only metaphorically or symbolically.
The possibility does present itself, and I do not know whether I will go or not. Sixteen years has passed since I lived in Riyadh. The city and the country has changed, according to people I’ve talked with who come and go regularly. It will never be the Riyadh I knew, the Riyadh of before 9/11, before terrorism, and the exacerbations of political conflict. On the other hand, if I go to the apartment building in which I lived, and look at it from the outside, and look at the TV tower across the street, I expect the views will be the same. I expect I’ll find the same dust puddles, the same big, green dumpsters from which cats and odors emerge. I expect I’ll see the same salmon colored sky. I expect I’d still enjoy shopping for produce at Otayga suq, or buying Canad at a local fish market. I expect I’d find the same shawarma stands where they’ve always been. I expect Obeikan and Jareer bookstore still operate, and I’d love to buy books in those places again.
Two of my good friends– Asmaa and Taghreed– still live there, and I would love to see them.
Mecca still beckons, of course, even though it has become marked (some would say “marred”) by that enormous commercial enterprise that now casts shadows over the Kaaba.
Apart from considerations of reminiscence and a reawakening of that important period of my life, there are considerations of practicality. I would go with Sharon, of course, and stay with her in her home there. Her husband could get me the visa. I would have to dust off my long dresses, and dig my abaya out of the attic. I could then buy new, modern ones when I arrived.
I’m not worried about safety. I never did worry about safety while traveling the Middle East, though now, the matter does warrant some attention. Safety is definitely a relative concept, and unpredictable, minimally controllable, so I will still not worry about it.
Shall I go?
We’ll see… InshaAllah. I will pray Istikarah.