I had seen a car crashes and crushed cars, but I had never seen a car tossed to the side of the road and left behind destroyed after hitting a camel. I will always remember the drive from Dhahran to Riyadh across the Saudi Arabian desert in the middle of a hot July night with my dad, my new stepmother, and Warren and David, my two brothers. I was thirteen and it was 1975. It was the summer between my seventh and eighth grade. It was my summer vacation, it was our summer vacation, and we were driving across the desert to spend the summer with my dad in Riyadh. When my parents divorced, the divorce agreement gave him forty-five days of summer visitation and monthly visits, which were impossible because we lived in Sugar Land and he lived eight thousand miles away in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. When I first learned, I was going to spend the summer in Riyadh with my two brothers, a summer in Saudi Arabia sounded exotic and exciting, but soon the feeling of leaving and leaving my friends, my home, and fun things in our neighborhood made me resent my dad and the trip.
Our summer vacation had begun normally. School let out and we were able to see our friends and have fun in the neighborhood. However, I knew, really and the three of us knew we would be leaving for at least a month to see my dad in Saudi Arabia. To get ready for our trip we had to get new passports and have our immunizations updated. We had our pictures taken and went to the health department in downtown Houston to have our cholera shot. The shot didn’t hurt, though the hustle and bustle of getting ready made getting ready for a trip I didn’t want to go on even more difficult. We also had to pack and make sure we had the things we needed especially, the medicines I needed and the shots for my asthma and allergies that my mom gave each week. It is hard to remember everything you need, until you need it. Finally, my dad came over to pick us up and fly with us. As glad as I was to see my dad, I knew his arrival meant we were really going and that made me sad. Continue reading 40 years ago, today – part 2: Camels in the Night