Thursday, March 12, 2009


Our company has a couple of project opportunities in the Middle East, specifically in the United Arab Emirates. From 1988 to 1990 I made about two dozen trips from Kuwait to the UAE for business purposes, sometimes with business stops in Qatar or Bahrain. That's what my trip to Phoenix was about a couple of weeks ago.

Today I met the two men who are putting our share of the marketing package together, my second meeting with them. After completing our work, I took ten or fifteen minutes to share with them anecdotes from my five years in the Arabian Gulf region. We talked about mosques and dress code and brutal judicial punishment and rubiyan (local shrimp), etc. I don't know that either one of them wants to make a trip there as a result of my reminiscences.

But it made me homesick for the Arab lands. Only those five years of my life were spent there, but I enjoyed it then and talking about it now, I miss it. After the meeting I went to see a Pakistani man who works for us. He spent some years in Dubai, and we frequently share a few Arabic phrases and joint experiences. That just deepened the homesickness.

I lived twenty-two years in Rhode Island, seven years in Kansas City, two and a half years in Saudi Arabia, four years in Asheboro, North Carolina, two and a half years in Kuwait, another half year in Asheboro, and now over eighteen years in northwest Arkansas. Whenever I have left one place for another, homesickness has set it.

For in truth I have loved every place I've ever lived, and almost every place I've ever visited. Each place had a richness to be explored, tapped, and consumed, adding to gray-cell-stored data that now gives me a full set of memories. Some of this data is actually becoming fodder for writing. One of the scenes in Doctor Luke's Assistant, where Luke and Augustus visit the camel souk, came from our visit to the camel souk in Jahra, Kuwait. My short story "Mom's Letter", while ostensibly fiction, actually follows very closely how I learned, as a 13 year old boy, that my mother was about to die. I have captured this, and other aspects of my Rhode Island boyhood, in other poems.

I guess for me, it's a takeoff on the old song, love the place you're in. I do, and I hope I always will.

No comments: