All I have to say about holidays is that they don't last long enough. It was great to see my parents. It re-orients you somehow. Like suddenly landing on familiar, more solid ground. You feel safer, more secure and focused. Funny. I wasn't even aware that I had been feeling lost or insecure.
And of course, my mother & female relatives all insisted on sending me back to my husband like a new bride. There was so much excitement about it that I didn't have the heart to object. Even my sister got into the spirit of things. The hamam, the hena,the slumber parties. A few days of being pampered & beautified. And a farewell party too. It was almost like having a wedding all over again.
To be absolutely fair, my siblings and I always loved going back home for our holidays because of the royal treatment we get. The wonderful welcome, everyone wanting to invite you to their homes for elaborate meals, people bringing you presents and everyone crying when it's time for you to leave. As a little girl, I remember sometimes feeling guilty because I didn't feel as attached to my relatives as they did to me. I mean, to me they were just people we saw once a year for a month or too. I didn't miss them when I was away because I never lived among them. But they seemed to miss me, to have all this love & concern for me. I felt like a cold, horrible person for not being able to return these emotions with the same intensity.
Later, as I grew older, I came to realize that their love for me was really an extension of their love for my parents. They didn't know me any better than I knew them - but to them I was my father's daughter or my mother's daughter, their flesh and blood. I was family. And I learnt to care for them in the same way.
Anyway, if that's the way we were treated in normal circumstances, I should have known that when I come back as a new bride, I'll be even more of a celebrity.
As for the Crete getaway with my husband, it was just what I needed. Crete has been a dream destination for me ever since I read "My Family And Other Animals" at the age of 12. It is beautiful. Not commercial. Not touristy. Not as luxurious. But beautiful. I wish we could have stayed longer. But neither one of us could extend.
And now, back to reality. Work is reality. And work is giving me new headaches. The way things are turning out, I will be travelling again soon. I have to recommend a system for a client. Two potential vendors are in the States. One is in Europe. The hardware has to come from overseas. And two things have become very clear:
1) I cannot recommend that the client invest millions in equipment that I have not seen.
2) It's unreasonable to expect the vendors to fly everything over here at their own expense just so I can look it and see if I like it.
So the verdict seems to be I have to get over there. Europe I can handle. But I haven't been back to the States since I finished school. That was before Sept.11. Before Guantanamo & secret prisons & secret evidence.
Maybe it's irrational to worry about this but I transferred money using Western Union a few times before and after Sept.11. The difference is spooky. Before Sept.11, it was pretty straightforward. Now, they'll ask me for the strangest pieces of documentation. They'll make me go back and forth 4 or 5 times. And they seem to have a particular problem with my family name. I keep thinking maybe there's someone in the system with the same last name that they're interested in. And if that's the case, will they give me a visa?And if the Embassy here issues a visa, does it mean I'll be safe going through immigration over there?
I don't think I look like a terrorist but you read about all those people thrown in jail for months & years without being charged with anything and you have to wonder and many of them don't look like terrorists. Even if it's unlikely that things will go that far, I don't want to face being interrogated, strip-searched or otherwise singled out for abuse from among other passengers etc....I don't want to be subjected to that. I just want to do my job and come back home to my husband.
Who still has to be told am going away for 2 weeks. And possibly not coming back for God knows how long if the worst happens. And who will most definitely not be pleased to hear any of it.