Community can be defined different ways, and I consider my extended family, friends who live on the other side of the world, and even people I only know on the Internet to be parts of my community.
But there is something about the people
you can touch, eat with, and live with.
Video chat is amazing but it’s not the same as being able to hug someone or talking face to face.
We live in a compound in Saudi Arabia. My tangible community is limited to the people in the compound or people my husband Stephen meets at work. It is very easy to only spend time with people I like and simply avoid anyone else. I cannot drive here (no women are allowed to drive), so I only go out with my family, in a taxi we’ve arranged with friends or on the compound bus for a weekly grocery trip. Being on the bus is the only time I have to interact with people I haven’t specifically chosen to be with.
I talked to my brother this afternoon and I need to say something.
Stephen is very brave.
Last Monday, he hopped on a plane and moved to Saudi Arabia.
Yes, that Saudi Arabia.
Stephen and his lovely wife, Kelsie, have wanted to travel overseas for many years now and finally, finally have the opportunity to do so through Stephen’s work. So they sold all but 1,500 pounds of their earthly belongings and prepared to go. Then they flew from Washington State back to Pennsylvania two weeks ago, Stephen left Monday, and Kelsie and the kids hang out until they can join him in a few months when their visa paperwork goes through. (That means, of course, that Kelsie is very brave, too. I am in awe of her!)
But I’ll admit it: I’m not very happy about this whole situation.
My big brother and me (circa 1988)
My brother and I are only 20 months apart–he’s older, though I’ve been bigger than him for most of our lives–and we’ve always been pretty close. Granted, for the last 12 years we’ve lived in different states but he’s still my big brother.
And my friend.
And different states is not the same thing as different countries, cultures, hemispheres, even if we will be able to Skype on a regular basis.
I’ll confess that it makes me sad and anxious and somewhat annoyed that they’re so far away from family. That is, that they’re so far away from Little Bean. And, let’s face it, from me. It’s mostly selfish of me, I realize this, but he’s my brother. I’ll miss him.