Saturday, June 12, 2010

What's normal anyway, right?

So I don't know how to write this post without sounding like a complete snob, so I'll just begin by admitting freely that I can be a snobby judgemental poop from time to time and my comfy little circle of friends in Toronto included people who were considerate, non-confrontational, drama-free, working professionals, leading normal lives in a normal city.

Being plucked from my little world of sunshine, unicorns and all things easy (though I didn't know it at the time because I was a fool. a damn fool.) and dropped off in the middle of the arabian desert has sort of left me in a position where I no longer have the luxury of interacting with only the people that are basically clonal variations of myself. I know that sounds terrible but I was very happy hanging out with the calm version of me, the fit and active version of me, the five years younger version of me, the superstar version of me, the academic version of me, the male version of me, and so on and so forth. In Riyadh, if you are looking for that reflection of yourself in your friends, you will be Gilligan but without the other castaways, because this is the land of the unconventional and no two expats are alike.

In Riyadh, you might find a lot of people on their second or third marriages or on their fourth or fifth careers; in a row of houses on a compound, you might find military contractors, businessmen, nurses, and teachers from all around the world. Education levels will vary from high school all the way to PhD's, political views from extremely right to communist, religions from atheist to wants-to-convert-you. You'll have people who are happily single, people who are unhappily single, the happily married and monogomous, the unhappily married and mostly monogomous, the happily married and mutually not monogomous, and everything in between. You will be thrust into an environment where you will make friends with people you would not normally be friends with, owing to your uppity pre-Riyadh views on people you like and people you do not like. Basically what I am saying is that if you were like me and living in a happy bubble before you moved to a compound, the more you find out about your fellow compound dwellers, the more you will find yourself saying, "that's CRAZY!" And not in a positive wild and fun way, but like in a sociopathic issue-laden morally-questionable way.

Then you hit steady state and go "what's normal anyway?" ha ha. Ok I am not saying throw all your standards out the window and welcome crazy into your daily life, but I am saying that maybe re-evaluating your preconceived notions on what types of people to include in your social network is a necessary thing to do here. As long as you find people who are mature and loyal, it's okay if you don't have everything else in common, and who knows it could expand your horizons or some sh*t like that.

And for the set that are resistant to expanding their horizons in defense of their identities...well I am right there with you too. That is what blogging is for.


barelynoticeable said...

Compound life, or life in general over here is anything but normal!

Personally the first few years were exciting, people were so friendly, so different. As time wore on, I then realized most of the people I was mixing with did not share the same values, lifestyle, etc. Made it somewhat difficult, though eventually we all move on anyways!!!!!

Some days I wish so strongly to be back with more familar sorts....

Appreciate your post!

Orchidthief said...

Yes, I definitely think there has to be a balance between open-mindedness and staying true to who you are. Trying to sustain connections with people who don't have the same values as you is usually not worth the effort even if superficially you may seem to have stuff in common - you'll either grow apart or something messier will happen. Thx for stopping by with a comment!

ummadam said...

I nominate you to have a Riyadh bloggers bash! You never know,I could be your African American,interracially married,Muslim Convert version of you!!! hahahee .. snort

Orchidthief said...

ummadam it's funny I was just telling my hubster that maybe we really should organize one!

coco jumbo said...

not sure if atheism is that common in Riyadh as you made it out to be. Perhaps only in compounds.

flytrisk said...

Enjoying your posts, Orchidthief. It's nice to see our "interesting" expat life focused through your unique brand of humor.

On "mixing," I suppose I've been doing it so long (given a wildly varied set of post-military careers) that being around a varied group of folks just seems normal to me now. Riyadh is just a magnified version of it! At any rate, I'm glad your horizons have widened to encompass a few of us "misfits." Our lives are richer for it! :)