Back when I worked in DC, I commuted on the Metro from Rockville. In my desperation to find a place to live that I could afford, I unwittingly moved into an illegally zoned, 12-person boarding house full of “professional” millennials. The experience was much like what one would see on the MTV show, The Real World. There was drama (lots of drama), fights (real ones), a few police visits (including the enforcement of a restraining order) and, I gotta admit, some pretty awesome parties.
Three floors, four bedrooms, a communal kitchen, and living room on each. I count myself extremely lucky, sharing the basement floor with three of the best guys ever; me being the only female. There was always someone to hang out with, eat dinner with, or walk downtown with for a beer and/or other entertainment.
Then, after a year and a half in Rockville, I discovered a healthy “crop” of mold growing on all my possessions after returning from a business trip. Considering I just like to eat mushrooms and not grow them in my house; considering that it began dawning on me what a wicked long commute it actually was each day to work, and considering that the house I was living in was illegal, I got out the heck out of there and moved to a studio by the Navy Yard.
The transition of living with three best friends to living alone was difficult. I tried making the best of it by inviting friends over, but I still missed always having company.
Ditto moving to Saudi Arabia.
Living on KAUST compound as a single woman has it drawbacks compared to my married counterparts. For example, if I need to pick something up in Jeddah, I'd have to don my abaya and hire a taxi for the day. If I had a husband, I could just have him drive me, and I wouldn't be worried about pre-scheduling the taxi and its availability. We'd also be able to take trips around the country to see what I’m told are some pretty amazing cultural sites without having to go through the Government Services and Tourism Office. (Really.)
So, as you can well-imagine, it's quite lonely. I've started to make friends, which has allowed me to get out of the house on weekends, instead of binge watching The West Wing. (I definitely see myself as an Ansley Adams - type of gal). However, the loneliness that sets in when you're eating dinner by yourself again and watching reruns of old blockbusters on DubaiOne is pretty darn depressing.
So, in an extraordinary turn of events, one that started off as an “animal lover/activist’s” attempt to adopt two kittens that were literally found between the walls of the KAUST Museum, I instead ended up adopting a seven month old puppy formally known as Ginger Aileen Jellybean after my co-worker spotted her on the KAUST Facebook “Pet Page” with a post saying she would be taken to a shelter in Jeddah if no one could take her within the week as the owner’s new baby was deathly allergic to the cute little critter.
It was “puppy love” at first sight, and her adorable snout with her one floppy ear, matched her goofy demeanor. Last Thursday she was dropped off at my house and the first order of business was to change her name to Boston.
Let’s just say there was a riot in old Beantown that night as Boston proved to be the puppy from Hell. Perhaps she was anxious in her new surroundings or just unsure of me but neither one of us got any sleep. In a strategic move to stop her incessant nipping at my arms, my first mistake was to think the screen door as a suitable barrier between us. Not so. After a running start, she leapt THROUGH said screen door, and jumped back on my bed where she continued gnawing my arm like an ear of corn.
After ignoring her attempts to play - it was 3:00 am, after all – Boston took matters into her own paws, lifting the plastic Tupperware I used as her water bowl, and proceeded to dump the entire contents on my peacefully sleeping head. I did not give in, however, and after cocooning myself in my blankets, hiding under my pillow to protect myself from those now annoying nips, she finally gave up and we slept for an astounding three hours. (I now have a greater respect for new mothers.)
It's been a week and things have improved. We’re both getting our full eight hours of sleep a night and I’m staying dry since exchanging the Tupperware for bowl as heavy as a bowling ball. We both lived through her horrific experience of being spade although we both cried a lot and I secretly wished the traveling vet had given me local anesthesia, too. (She’s healed very nicely.)
We’re working hard trying to get into a routine now and it seems to be working. Best of all? We have each other. We eat dinner at the same time when I’m not meeting friends. We take long walks, we watch movies, and we yell/bark at each other just like old friends. Saudi Arabia just got a little less lonely.