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Friday, March 31, 2023 at 4:40 p.m.

Forty days on the dot of being constantly away from “home” with one suitcase, 2 countries, and 5 cities. Home, for me, is really a feeling more than it is anyone or anything or any place.

My wish for myself is to always be free-spirited, and to have the ability to sleep anywhere, and find joy in every place I visit and every person I cross paths with.

I met a boy’s parents for the first time! And WOW was that a rollercoaster. I never would have thought meeting a boy’s parents could be so… emotionally draining.

One thing it did confirm, is that no family is like my family, and no one will love me the same way I love and have been loved in my short life.

Ummrah was interesting. I am very thankful for the opportunity, and for Fikry who sponsored my whole trip and more. I wish the act of Ummrah was breezier, and less pushy. I always wanted to go with someone that is light spirited, and joyful to be around. I’ve always believed Islam, and Duaa – really anything to do with God has to be done with joy. People that are serious and take it as a military practice always confused me. Yes. You feel things, yes, life is not always rainbows and butterflies, I understand.

Maybe I’ll never be able to articulate my feelings about this topic in particular.
Madina was beautiful. It really is a breezy city, and I somehow convinced Fikry to take the double decker city bus, and we went for about 2 hours or so. One thing about Saudi that I never thought of, and definitely was not expecting was how ROCKY it is! My aunt was stressed the whole time because she wanted to pray. Not realizing how taking in God’s creations and world, and the city of our prophet is a form of worship in itself. I wish she was at an age, and brain capacity, where I could tell her these things, kindly, and her not getting so defensive.


I think I can say I have been traveling solo since I was 18 or 19. And I have never missed a flight! I am strict with my airport routine, regardless of how small or big an airport may be. I check in, finish customs, when I enter the duty free area I walk directly to my gate to assess the distance it takes from the duty free shopping area to my gate. Some airports are fancy, and give you an approx. time of walking to your gate from your current location – bless them.

This airport was long, I would not say big, it was long. Of course my gate was the last one. Anyways, I did my walk, my flight was at 11, and then I got really hungry. It must have been 10 minutes to 10AM when I decided to go eat. I asked a cleaner what he recommended for food – their options sucked. And he told me the chicken shawarma, and really sold it to me. It was something I was not even considering. I got have my Shawarma, and it was delicious – and only 8.50 Riyals! I finish at 10:25AM!! And texted Ahmad to tell him how delicious it was. Instead of replying like normal people, he decided to video call me. So I sat there talking to him, and yeah, I lost track of time.

Then I ran to the gate, which was much further than I expected it to be, I got there by 10:40, and those (bitches) had closed the doors.

Bro, like we are in the middle east, and no flight is ever on time, and no gate ever closes on time. But, subhanallah, this one had to close on time. Those (bitches) women gave me bad vibes, I’ve seen ground control fight for a passenger to get on, and they pick up the phone. They did not. Anyways, their day will come.

I swear to God, people that work at Saudi airports have ZERO sense of urgency. It is not like lives can be changes in milliseconds of missing a flight.
There’s something I learnt in university, I do not have the name for it. But you know when you have one long que, and the multiple counters? And when you get to the front of the line, you go to whatever counter is free? Regardless if the front of you is busy or not. So these lines are meant to make things move smoother. Cause the counter you’re standing at might have someone with an “issue” that is taking longer than necessary,=. So Saudi airports have these lines set up, but God forbid they are using them!

It is the emptiest airport(s) I have ever seen – huge airports with long walks, and no one to guide you or answer any of your questions.

Also something I learned, if you miss the first leg of your trip, and you have multiple flights booked under the same booking, you will get fucked because according to the airlines, you did not get on the first leg of the flight, so you will not make it on the second! Sooo frustrating, and I am yet to understand why it is like this. Especially when the next flight is more than 24 hours later. I think there should be a rule, that if you are a 100% no show for your flight, and did not send an email or “do something” to notify them, then OK fine, it all goes. But if you are already checked in?? and bought your second ticket out, the other flight should not be touched. Or at least give the passenger 24 hours to get their shit together!! It is a stressful situation. No one wants to lose money, and time. And you never know the reason people are flying out.
It was the most expensive ticket I bought. Originally: Riyadh, Jeddah, Dubai (AED 1,255).

Then to get on the next flight out of Riyadh, I paid AED 804.73, and again for my Dubai flight I needed to adjust it and pay AED 218.11.
Also, one cool thing I did not get to enjoy. They had a Baskin Robbins at the Airport.


So, to be honest, I was not planning on going to Vienna at all. I initially just wanted to chill in Riyadh, and then go visit Sarah in Jeddah. Sarah got a job at Al Ulla, and said I could join her. Looking up tickets, and sensing how stressed she was, I decided against it.

I kept getting tickets for Wizz Airlines in Riyadh, so I checked the ticket and what a deal! AED 752 and I got to stay with Nora at her place, and not worry about hotels and being lonely.

I’ve never been on a budget airline. Maybe last year in the summer I took the Iberian Airlines, I cannot remember where the flight was to. But it was short. This flight was relatively long – 5.30 hours, and PAINFUL! The seats are ever so narrow, do not recline one bit, and leather. Even with my size, I felt like my butt was sweaty and stuck to the seat. It was so uncomfortable. On my way back I bought my first neck brace things for airplanes, and it really was a savior. I did not really use it for my neck as much as I used it to relive pressure between my back, my hips and bum and the chair. I would like to believe it made a difference. Even though that thing was SOOOO ANNOYING to lug, it has like a memory foam interior, and it was so heavy.

I still love the Mountain Equipment backpack I bought in university, I used it for my whole trip, and fell in love again.

The Arrival

Ahmad came and met me at the airport. Maybe I should have taken the way he hugged me as a sign of this is not the energy I deserve or want. In Nour style, I brought it up, and he told me that he had been standing there for some time, and he was sweaty and tired – customs took time, since there was a Saudi with 3 or 4 women wearing Niqab, and were asked to remove their Niqab.

We then walked across the parking to get to a nearby hotel to grab a taxi from there. The weather was so lovely and crisp. While standing there, he gifted me a small box, and in it was a beautiful Pandora charm of a Turtle – one of his favorite animals, and it was in Opal-ish colored stone, which is my favorite, and behind it was a hidden heart. He was super excited to give it to me, and I thought it was lovely and thoughtful.

I lost the pendant and the necklace while on my trip. Maybe I should have also taken that as a sign. It just disappeared.

The Persian Meeting

Meeting Ahmad’s parents was quiet the experience. I was not nervous at all, felt chill. However he was a total mess, and I could not understand why he was like that.

First night they invited us to a Persian Restaurant. His mom was so passive with me, and could not keep eye contact, it was the strangest thing. But he also always told me she is socially awkward.

I asked her what she would like from Saudi, and she said a coffee Dalah. So near the end of dinner, I brought out my gift, which was 2 Dalah’s – 1 for coffee and 1 for tea. The woman awkwardly asks her husband for money, and throws, and I really do mean throws saying that this is for the Dalah. I gave them back and told her no, this is a gift, and you made it easier by choosing. She again throws them back at me, I take them and give them to Ahmad and joked saying these are for you. He then gives her the death stare and hands them back to her.
There were zero personal questions, not about myself, not about work, not about my education. His father was more pleasant thank his mother, but also both very awkward.

The “Egyptian Italian Place” and Zero Fucks to Give

The next day we went to a family lunch with his sister, her husband, three children and his brother, and of course his parents.

I do not know what part of me could not have taken everything that happened as a SIGN FROM GOD, telling me that this is not for you, these people are not for you, and you deserve so much better.

I was sitting at that lunch table as an invisible person, no one could see me, no one wanted to see me, and no one had an interest in seeing me. And him? He did not speak a word. He did not try to mediate, or bring up conversation, nothing.

To make up for the disaster of a lunch, and to apologize, his brother Tarik took us out to dinner and for a drinks afterwards. It was pleasant and normal. He apologized for his mother’s behavior, and family as a whole. He said that his mom is a really nice and caring person, she is just stressed these days – this is the part I wish he never said – over the house. The beautiful 3 story home she has in the suburbs that she never wanted to live from day 1 that was over 20 years ago.

I wrote this what feels like years ago, and I no longer have an interest in re-reading it, or completing what I wrote. I want to conclude with how thankful I am for my experiences, I am thankful for my life, and all my privilege, and I will never take it for granted. I am ready to fall in love again.

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