Where my father was born:
Nablus, Palestine, also known as Jabal Al-Nar, the mountain of fire.
My memories of Nablus as a child are of old stone walls, jasmines, tea with mint, and the smell of burnt pine wood.
My dad’s tales of Nablus are of cinemas, circuses, and family love.
The box with old pictures from Nablus is full of photographs of vintage cars, people dressed in gorgeous clothes, staged studio shots, and children climbing trees.
Where my mother was born:
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, also known as 3aroos Ilba7r, the bride of the sea.
My memories of Jeddah are of humidity, malls, and looking for the house on the beach where my mother grew up, only to find out that that beach has not existed in decades. It was covered with sand to accommodate the city’s growth, and the beach is now miles away.
My mother’s tales of Jeddah are of fishing for hours, eating ice cream at a place called Mechaniko Cream, and her father’s woodshop.
The box with old pictures from Jeddah is full of photographs of girls in white dresses, birthday parties, and them swimming on the beach.
Where I was born:
My memories of my childhood in Amman is of a little, tranquil town, with a lot of green and sharp blue skies. My memories are of ice cream, playing soccer outside, and the sweet plastic smell of floaters and sunscreen. They are of a small, uncrowded town, with the taste of Jabri’s cake icing and the cool blueness of Slush Puppies.
Where I grew up:
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
My memories of Riyadh are endless. For afterall, that is where I spent the bulk of my life. Some of them are great. Others are not as great. When I close my eyes, Riyadh is the smell of dry air, the sound of the call to prayer, and the shiny marble floors of its malls. It is the gingham print of our Manarat uniforms, the blistering heat of my glue gun, and the sound of a modem dialing an internet connection.
My reality now:
The Amman of my childhood has dwindled to nothing but the taste of red popsicles. My experience is wholey different from my memories. My experience is off spending the days either sitting in the garden or at the various outeries that this city shyly provides. It is of Jordan University, our messy Syntax office where life is always bustling with energy, or the horribly crowded summer streets at night.
And there. You have it. The collection of cities that have shaped the way we grew up.