Though I am loving my simpler, less stressful life in the States, there is truly no place like home. There’s nothing like spending time with the ones that you love, frequenting your favorite restaurants, and experiencing all things U S of A. Trimester one couldn’t end fast enough. Once it did, Jonathan and I were on the first thing smoking to Dubai to catch our flight. En route to the airport, I received some terrible news. My principal from my school had passed away after a brief albeit courageous fight with lung cancer. I was stunned. This is the same man who had encouraged me to pursue this new overseas adventure, and had even ensured that I was still gainfully employed after the first employment offer was rescinded. The same man who had served as the pillar of our campus and community. The same man I shared a host of laughs and good times with just months before. Dead. From lung cancer. After being diagnosed just six months prior. So, needless to say, the trip home would be anything but normal.
Once we arrived on American soil, we were welcomed back by Jack Frost nipping at our noses. It was cold. A far cry from the desert sauna that had become a daily occurrence. But, it sure felt good to be home. A little taste of normalcy. A small dose of reality. We made our way to our hotel, and started mapping out our first taste of artery-clogging, waist-expanding, hormone-injected American fast food. Though the UAE had a nice variety of American staples, there were several places that still could only be found in the America (as my students so eloquently call he US). The first thing I was craving was Chic-Fil-A, but the first thing we actually ate was Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers. Either we were hungry, or that was the absolute best Raising Cane’s that we had ever eaten.
The next few days were full of meetups with friends and family, and checking off our list of must-see, must-eat places and foods. Due to the unexpected loss of Mr. Arendse (affectionally called Mr. A), I was able to see many of my former students, coworkers, and friends at his service. Immediately following the service, my work family and I frequented our favorite diner, and caught up on old times.
A few days later, Jonathan and I headed to Oklahoma, to spend some of the break with my family. Once we arrived there, we received another surprise: snow! Though I grew up in Oklahoma, and am fairly used to the white stuff, there’s nothing like a snowfall to welcome you to the holidays. Great times were had in Tulsa, like always, and we made our way back to Dallas to close out the trip in America. While in Tulsa and in Dallas, I stocked up on all of my favorite snacks, household goods, and things that I couldn’t live without. I made sure to raid Kroger, Target, Wal-Mart, and the .99 Store for enough goods to last me until my return home in the summer.
Jonathan came down with a serious case of the flu, and was not cleared to fly back to Dubai, so he ended up staying in Dallas. I boarded my flight with my overweight luggage, and made my way back to my home away from home.
Rest In Peace Mr. A. You will be missed.