Too long, far gone

It’s been too long, I know.

I hate when I look back at my journal and realize how many things I’ve experienced and dreamt and thought about here that are not put into words, and are now gone with time.

It’s been almost four months here, but it feels like a lot longer. Maybe it’s because Bahrain is so small. Maybe it’s because I do the same things every weekend. Maybe it’s because my job has been weighing on me and has been more difficult than any job I’ve encountered yet.

But that’s sad, because despite all of that, I love Bahrain, and I love the Middle East.

I love that when I step outside I see everything in white, black, and yellow – white-clothed men and black-shrouded women against a background of sand and sky. I love the green-blue waters of Bahrain that are a color I have never seen before, the lightest aquamarine waters lapping gently against yellow shores. I love the smell of cardamom and clove and the smoke of shisha pipes. I love flat bread with labneh and thym and tomato, Lebanese style. I love camels and falcons and Arabian horses.

But, holed up in my office, spending hours at work with my expat coworkers, I feel so far from all of that. My only reminder that I am in the middle of the Persian Gulf, in the middle of Arabia, in the middle of a desert, is my little chain of camels that I bought from Hisham’s shop. Here in Bahrain, I eat sushi more often than I eat hummus. I have a beautiful abaya that was made for me but which I have never worn, because it’s so liberal that I’d receive more criticism for trying to look Muslim than for leaving my hair uncovered and wearing jeans. I want to steep myself in Bahrain, ancient, present, hidden, discovered. I want to see the A’ali graves and the Beit Al Quran. I want to sit under the shade of frangipani and ride an Arabian horse. I want to see the Dilmun ruins and to walk by mosques and hear the call to prayer. I don’t want to live in Bahrain and somehow, never see it.

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