I'm home. It was an adventure getting here, but I made it.
The whole long way of four-to-five connecting flights, and three-five security checks and different passport controls is beyond stressful, and is always exhausting, but this time I found it even more so. In my head I kept just counting down, only 18 hours now, only 12 hours now, only 6 more hours now....and I'll be home. Home, home, home. Flights were delayed, times to connect were stressfully short, and for some reason, in the (GCC) Middle East they like to keep us on hot buses on the tarmac waiting to be loaded onto the planes.
...On the way over, I just had to make it there on time. I had to get there in time. That's all that I could think about.
Then I had gotten there, the land far and away, and I came in time to say goodbye to the man who raised me, and made me most of what I am. He was holding on to see me. He should have died weeks ago, the doctors told me, most men would have done so a year ago, but he was a fighter. If he hadn't looked so starved and dehydrated, you wouldn't have known he'd die in an hour or so. He kept getting out of bed, insisting he had too much to do, work that he didn't want to leave us all with.
Everyone keeps saying maybe he became a Muslim in the end, but I don't think so. His beliefs made me to the point where ours diverged, but it was his keen mind to know and understand and question without judging all the cultures and religions of the world. He was a traveller, an explorer, and he encouraged me to read and think, and to go places and meet people and live in other cultures.
Afterwards we were sorting out photos of him. My favourites are the ones of him hiking in the rainforests of South America in the 70s, or sailing around the West Coast Pacific in his catamaran, There's ones of him on the side of a volcanoe, seeing the ruins of Chitzanitzu in Mexico, or Angkor Wat in Cambodia, There's also the beach photos, which my sister likes, in Cuba, San Diego, and Mexico. I like seeing him shopping in the floating market in Thailand, riding a motorcycle in Vietnam, riding elephants (which he insisted is a very touristy thing to do). There's a photo of him with his grand daughter, in Nakhl, here in Oman. He never got the chance to meet his other grandchildren (I've always lived too far away, and there were too many places he wanted to see before Oman again).
Omanis who met him always said to me "if only he was Muslim" because then, what a Muslim he would be. He was a good person, a humble person. You'd never hear him brag. He was the first to help his neighbors. He would never forget a friend. He put duty to family before doing anything for himself (which I almost wish he hadn't always done). He raised two daughters alone, and always helped his ex-wife even she is awful, because that's how men should treat women. He made me promise to look after a family member who is famous for driving people away with cheapness and his mean comments because "no one else will, but he is family". So I will honour that.
We didn't always get along. He was never good with words. He didn't like to write letters or text or call too much. He didn't know what to say to me, so often we spoke instead of ideas and news and history together, and these were things he made sure I was always passionate about. I've always been good with words, but could never really manage to tell him all the things he made me, that I loved him for. Really educated people always think I am smarter than I am, because it is his ideas that I express, that he could never word precisely enough, yet those ideas reveal a mind more advanced than mine yet is.
He had a viking funeral as much as that is legal now. His ashes were put into the sea. I wove a wreath of flowers, and that was pretty much all I could bear to do without letting myself get carried away by too great a show of feeling. The most common things people said of him were :"they don't make them like that anymore" and "the world is a lesser place now."
All I can say to myself is that there are eight gates to paradise, and one of them is for those who give charity, and another is for those who forgive and don't get angry; and, I remind myself, the final providence of human souls is none of my affair, beyond my own, and that as a Muslim I believe Allah is the Most Fair, and the Most Just, and the Most Merciful, and other than that I try not to think too much at all.
After that I wanted to go home. I don't really have a "home" per se. I mean, the land far and away is home too, but I've traveled too much, been broken too much, to belong any one place completely. Muscat is home too, because I am a Muslim, and that's where I first heard the adhan.
Now that I am home, I see the land-far-and-away much clearer. It is changing, and I am kind of the last of the old generation there (which is too weird). There's a couple left but they are much older than I am, and every time I go back we are less and less. Old prejudices seem to have died off with our grandparents, the ones we rebelled from while still keeping our love of traditions and history, because people seemed less afraid of Muslim-me this time. Still, I am glad I took the time to talk to the shop keepers on Fort Street. I never knew Don had been in Cairo as Intelligence during Nasser and Sadat. That he spoke Russian so well. If I go back again in a couple of years, would I get to hear of things like that still?
Anyways, life is always too short. There are things I should have done sooner. Things I should have done more of, and there's things I want to do but haven't at all, and I'd told my father that preserving the architectural heritage of Oman is one of those things, so I guess I better get on that;). I need to turn my ideas into words, and words into plans, and plans into actions, and actions into auditable measures....My Omani husband thinks this is impossible because he "knows how peoples minds work here" and that it is "too big of an idea" but then, meeting him, coming here, seems impossible too.
Where I come from is almost the opposite in every way. It rains all the time. It is cold all the time. Everything is green. Everything grows. To get home takes 28 hours at the shortest possible air route and I have to cross great ice fields either way,...but I can rarely afford that fare so it is more like 36 hours. I was raised agnostic, pagan, and that I should become a Muslim, come to Oman and stay here, and meet my husband...is still the most impossible possible thing that has ever happened to me. So "possible is always relative".
So I will start to work on that. So many promises I made, to a man who kept his word always. "All a man has for his own is his word, his intent, and what he's done before" he believed. I believe, additionally, a man has also his faith, and his beliefs, but my father dismissed those as unimportant in the end, beside the rest he mentioned.So...promises.
I've never been good with my attention span to timely follow-through on plans for myself, but possible is always relative;).