We’ve been utterly resuscitated by Steve’s parents’ nearly month-long visit. We were in need of extra hands, energy, company, familiarity. And they showed up with all of that in large and generous doses.
Showing them around our lives here has been meaningful to me. Joanie had visited in 2004, when we lived here previously, but Bill had never been. Taking them to the Souq, the Grand Mosque, our favorite carpet store, our favorite restaurants (Café Lilou, Monsoon, Copper Chimney, CoCo’s), and also showing them the everyday—the base, the kids’ school, the mall, the grocery store—all of it added up to a feeling of being seen here.
Something important happens when you are far away from “home” and familiar faces show up to witness you in your new life. Like you are visible once again.
We also struck out on a little adventure together and spent three days in Dubai. Just a quick one-hour flight—which is about all I can handle at this point in my pregnancy—and we were in another country. We sat on the beach and played in the sand, floated in the pool, ordered room service, and went to the aquarium. I even braved the “torrents” and “rapids” at the water park. Seven months pregnant, bouncing around in an innertube. Not spectacular. But very, very fun. Luke saying to me the whole time, “This is a wild ride, Mommy. A wild ride.”
I still can’t believe they let very pregnant women and small children, almost babies, on that wild ride, but we all made it out. Whooping and woo-hooing like only Americans can do.
As adventurous as I felt on the rapids, the highlight of the last month, for me, was visiting the Grand Mosque with Steve’s parents and seeing “Fatima” again after 8 years. She was the young woman—just 19 then—that took me on the tour of the Grand Mosque that I later wrote about in chapter 16 (“dying”) ofFound Art. Something in our interaction back then forced me to look at the whole concept of desire as it related to my spiritual life.
When I walked into the mosque all these years later, I recognized her practically immediately even with everything covered except her eyes. Still so petite and such big brown eyes. The tour hadn’t changed much at all in eight years, but I listened to her as if I had never heard any of it before. I couldn’t believe I was back in that beautiful place, with her, after what feels like a lifetime later.
We stood in the upper level, the woman’s prayer hall, overlooking the main prayer hall, as the Muezzin offered the call to prayer. The first time I had ever been inside a mosque during the call to prayer. Standing there in a black abaya and head scarf, it was like we were in another world.
My mother-in-law told Fatima about my book, and Fatima gave me her email address. I’ll have to take her a copy someday soon and tell her what she has meant to me. Maybe we will go to coffee and talk spirituality. Maybe we’ll talk marriage as she is considering a proposal right now. Maybe we’ll just talk about what it means to be a woman in this world. I’d like to think I will see her again.
When we left the mosque, she kissed me on each cheek and asked me to pray for her. In Islam, it is believed that a pregnant woman’s prayers are twice as likely to be heard by Allah. I said I would pray, and she padded off—in her black socks—back into the Mosque. I tucked away the neon green sticky note with her email address on it. I say a prayer for her when I see it. And I smile to myself at the wild, winding ride that is life.