Return to Riyadh?

(Revision of post originally published February 04, 2011)

January 25, 2023

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 spiritual and  psychological growth that made life during the Riyadh years profoundly satisfying and often exciting.

Life back in the United States, with all its freedoms and responsibilities, became a form of drudgery. Going to work every day felt like slavery (as always).   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 could break free of having to fit back into American culture,  where I could 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 expats felt 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.”

2 Responses to Return to Riyadh?

  1. Jerry Waxler says:

    One of the great expansive experiences of my lifetime were the daydreams invoked by my mother’s fascination with the Arabian Nights. I felt myself flying on a carpet past agnificent temples with spires. I’m not sure if Persia is in the same tradition, but I thought we may have been floating in the same freedom.

  2. Marahm says:

    Yes, Jerry, that place of freedom can be reached in many ways, by people of any age or culture, and by various means, but we have to keep finding new vehicles as the old ones disappear.


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