Early morning, my alarm clock woke me up. Lazily, and with eyes still closed, I stretched my left arm to reach it on the small table beside our bed. Reach…search…tap… my alarm clock was not on the table!
Still half asleep, I remembered that I kept it the previous night on the shelf because Aisha wanted to play with it. So, with a heavy head, I forced myself to get up to turn the alarm off before my little girl wakes up from the noise.
As a routine (like a walking robot), I turned a soft room light on, took my towel from the rack and headed to take a shower. On my way to the bathroom, I looked at the wall clock and I was surprised—it was only 4:30am!! How come I was heading to the bathroom at 4:30 in the morning? Why did the alarm clock ring at 4:30am? Ahhh… for sure my kids played with it and they must have messed up with the time-setting again. Tsk. tsk.
I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sleep again although I have almost 2 hours left before I should wake Alia up for school, so I got myself a cup of coffee and went to the living room.
I put my coffee down the table and sit on the couch. It was 4:45am. As I leaned backward and felt the headrest of the sofa, I felt relaxed and I closed my eyes…
There was an abrupt scuttle of a hundred thoughts in my mind. I thought of what I would wear to work, will the weather be colder today, what snack should I let Alia bring to school, if Eric would want to eat breakfast at home or bring something to office, if Aisha would need to take a cough medicine, if my boss will come early for our meeting, if the executive committee will like the presentation I prepared the day before, if my Mom received the remittance I sent, if George replied to my email, when our electricity bill is due for payment, if we would need to find a new house to rent… etc..etc..
Isn’t it amazing how so many things in our lives seem very complicated, and yet remain simple? Like how fast a hundred thoughts could fill up a mind, things-lots of them- happen at the same time and still they seem to go by in tune. Somebody up there must be really busy syncing all these complexities and bringing them into the line.
I remember how my life had been so simply undemanding before. I smile at the thought of waking up thirty minutes before work and feeling a slight hangover from a night out with friends. A hot shower had always been a favorite remedy. Oh boy, I miss those friends I had back then.
I had to admit that everything changes. I learned that life never stays the same and so are the people we are living it with. Back in Manila, when I was younger, I thought being strong was just being able to assert myself, insist on what I want, rebel a bit, and stuff. But as I mature during more than ten years of my stay here in Riyadh, I’ve met a hell lot of people who had forced me to believe a very unlikely idea of being brave and strong- that it’s never enough that you assert yourself, but you also need to prove a hundred times that you’re correct and they’re wrong (I mean it-- a hundred times). Being tough does not only mean that you carry around a happy face but it’s showing people you are never scathed or hurt and you have to smile no matter how awful you feel inside.
Is it perhaps because Im in the middle of a community of expatriates? - different families, different stories, different attitudes- we share the same drama of living away from “home”, surviving in an anomalous foreign workplace, and sometimes even trying hard to fit in a place which will never be our own.
Among these not-so-foreign people around me, I’ve realized that I better be extra careful with whom I would consider friends and family. Most of them are only people- not even friends. There’s a bunch of users and abusers waiting for every chance they could get to bite off an ear. Even Facebook has to define what “friends” really are. I don’t buy the idea of categorizing a close friend and learning after a while that she/he has included me on his/her “restricted” friends. Will “real” friends do that? I guess not. So what’s the delete/ unfriend button for?
Meanwhile, family is permanent and most of the time, it’s not even just biological. People and friends may hurt us but family will feel the slightest pain with us. Of course, family do not always agree on what we want, or accept what we do—but at the end of the day, a family will always accept us for who we are.
I thank God for a beautiful family he has given me- the one I grew up with and the one I have around me right now. I wish I could see more of my friends and spend time with them. For the people around me who like, dislike, hate, love, or feels nothing at all, towards me thanks for being in my life too because you make me who I am-- probably not stronger but definitely more practical.
What makes me happy?
People. Everyone around me who believes and inspires me- my family, my husband, my two beautiful girls, my friends and colleagues.
Life itself is a happy experience. The world is a happy place.
I had my own share of struggles, life was not easy for us back then but my Dad taught me how to believe in myself, work hard , be kind and to be strong. He inspired me to go out of my comfort zone. He used to tell me that the possibilities in life are endless and so I believed him.
l Iost him quite a few years ago but he has left me with so much inspiration to follow my dreams - to visit places I have only dreamt of or have seen in the movies when I was little and to do things I thought were only for the privileged few.
Wherever I go, I always remember my Dad, wishing he could see me from afar and somehow be proud of me as I have always been so proud of him. Life is short and I promised him that I would make the most of mine.
Travelling makes me happy and in all other things, I choose happiness. We all should- always..