“Join the Navy see the world,” my husband says as he packs our suitcases. We have lived in Washington D.C. for 2 and a half years and are being relocated back to San Diego. Even though we have been relocated once, living on the East coast played a fundamental role in my life. We haven’t traveled much, but I truly felt like D.C. had a little bit of everything, as well as, the people to go along with it. It was an experience that made me realize the astonishing amount of love and care people have for you after only a day of knowing them. It made me truly believe that it is human nature to be good. As if we were born with the nature to help and care for others. After living in Washington D.C. for two years, I felt like it is naturally engraved in us that we work towards the greater benefit of society without even realizing it.
Even though I have a cultural background and was once an immigrant from Iraq myself, I was still oblivious to the world outside of San Diego. I knew there was a place called New York and some city where the “oh so famous” White House was but who was I kidding, I barely even drove the two hours to L.A. to see the Hollywood sign. (I’ve only seen it once and that was 4 years ago while passing Melrose Place for a Pink’s Hotdog). YES, I guess you can say I was in my own bubble. I was so socially awkward and in my own world that if someone said “Hello” as they were passing, I would cut off all eye contact and speed walk across the street. However, my point is that I was a closed minded Arab with no motivation to diversify. Hence, why when I went to the East Coast it was tough for me to understand the kindness that these strangers had for me.
What changed? I met my husband. Small town boy from Washington state who joined the Navy at the age of 17. I mean seriously how enlightening could he be? Well, he has seen more of the world then I could ever imagine and the kindness that many only believed happened in storybooks. After getting married and moving across the country, he helped me open my mind to a world that is outside of San Diego. A world where people’s natural instinct is to have empathy for each other, no matter what culture or background. Where every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons helping each other with compassion and encouragement. Every person I have met or crossed paths with had a story, and with every story made me recognize what type of amazing individuals there are out there.
My husband and I met friends that took us in as if we were a part of their family from day one. I can say that they are the type of friends that I can call framily. Friends that will be a part of our family no matter how long it has been since we last saw them. Friends that never once did we ever have a dull moment with. Friends that helped us realize that the love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege. They had a story, a story that made us recognize the beautiful souls that we will continue to meet throughout our lifetime. I became more open to the idea of listening to other people’s stories and the friendships that many are willing to build with you. Friendships that I will forever cherish.
I have met many more influential individuals that have changed my mindset. Whether it was a classmate or with a random stranger, I was constantly reminded that sometimes people come into your life to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson or help you figure out who you are or who you want to become.
For instance, a friend that helped me understand the many different Middle Eastern cultures and appreciate where my roots are from. A foodie just like me, where our friendship started by just talking about food. A friendship that I built with her mom without even meeting her, but because I would send Sara home with treats to give her mom.
Classmates and friends that helped me appreciate that no matter how long you have lived in America, you still strive towards the same goal, the American dream. That with every different cultural background comes a similar story. Immigrants just like me, with the same goals and values, yet from a totally different country. I was reminded that just because many of us are from a different country we have more similar traits than we think.
When traveling to Atlanta a beautiful family took us in as their own for Thanksgiving dinner. We had never met them before and when we were invited over for the holiday my husband and I were not expecting such a warm welcome. We felt like we were right at home. How is it that strangers could be so loving and kind and take us in as their own? My husband and I may or may not see them again, but I will always have a place in my heart for them. I admired their kindness and truly believe that there are many more families out there just as long as we keep our hearts and minds open.
As my husband and I explored the East Coast, the history of our country was truly influential. I realized that we are still functioning as a society, which is why our civilization has not yet crumbled. We have gone through some difficult times like everyone else and perhaps our working together and respecting each other’s abilities, in addition to that little thing called love has helped us survive.
As I move back to San Diego, I now have a different approach towards strangers. I now appreciate the time that many are willing to give, the kindness that many are eager to share and the stories that many are happy to tell. No matter if I ever see you again D.C., you will always have a piece of me. So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good.
I want to thank my husband for influencing me in a way that I could never imagine and sacrificing his life for the freedom of this country. Because of Keith, I now see the wonderful souls that we are surrounded by.
Thank you. ❤