"Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose."
I've been surprised at some of the emails and comments I've received over the past two years that call me "brave" or that say how "courageous" I am for moving here to Saudi Arabia. Surprised because I've never really considered myself particularly brave or courageous.
But when I read the quote at the top of this post, I began to look at the concept of bravery or courage differently. I have many friends back in the states who would never even consider making a move to a place like Saudi Arabia for any period of time, much less to come here indefinitely, sight unseen.
Living here is not easy for someone raised elsewhere, but it is not altogether miserable either. Crazy as it may sound, I moved here without ever having visited this country before. Sure there is loneliness and boredom and a glaring lack of things to do. It is definitely not for everyone, especially not for females from the West who have been raised in societies where women have equal rights, or where women have freedom of speech and where women can drive and are free to go wherever they want to go, and where she can dress the way she wants to. There are so many sacrifices I have had to make to be here, so many freedoms I used to take for granted in America that I don't have here. It's a totally different culture, a different way of life, different language, different customs, different religion, different attitudes, different foods - heck, just about everything about life here is different from what I had known all my life.
But I am not alone here. There are many other Western women who came here way before I did, who gave up their former lives as well, sacrificed plenty, all for the sake of love. Some of them have been living here for over four decades. Now THOSE women - THEY have courage! I really don't know how they did it. I still can't envision myself being here long term, but it's only been two years.
One thing that makes being here particularly difficult is that I have nothing here that reminds me of my past life, except some precious photos on the computer. But even those only go back as far as the day I finally went digital. The rest of my photos are in storage and I hope at some point to be able to scan them so I will have them too. Another thing that makes my life more lonely for me is my stateside family members' reluctance to get with the program of 21st century technology. We could see each other and speak through the computer on Skype for free every day if we wanted to, but my family members really haven't acquired the proper equipment to do this. So if I want to speak to them, I have to call them long distance. It's expensive and frustrating, when it could be free and easy. And then there's the apartment that we live in here - I don't feel as though it's mine because it's not. I had no input at all regarding it. My mother-in-law purchased it for us and kindly furnished it for us before we arrived, but it's not mine - not my taste, not my style. It's where I live, but it's not MY home.
Yes, I took a big chance moving here. I gave up everything that I thought identified ME and represented ME, a lifetime of possessions and memories and "things" that I had accumulated. I came here with two suitcases and that's it. It's almost as if my life's slate has been wiped clean, free of clutter, free of material things. And if I've learned anything at this point, I guess it's that "things" don't really identify me or say who I am.
The jury is still out on whether this place will ever feel like home to me, and if it never does, well, some will say that I have failed. Even South Florida took an awfully long time to grow on me. But at least I can say that I have tried - and we never know unless we try, do we? In the end, will I have given up everything - for nothing? Either way, I now know in my heart that it actually WAS a brave thing for me to do by moving here, and that I DO have courage. And I should be proud of myself for that. Proud that I am giving this place a chance, standing beside my husband, and keeping my family together - even if there's a chance that it may not work out in the end. And I can live with that.