Tuesday, January 10: I am pacing the Arrivals area at Muscat Airport, nervously awaiting the arrival of my two sons, 20-year-old Alex and 19-year-old Adam. When they finally come out of the gate, loaded down with suitcases and looking rather bedraggled, I give them both big hugs. I’m relieved at their safe arrival and thrilled to see them. I’m a little surprised that since I last saw them in person in early September, Alex has grown a scraggly beard and Adam has decided to grow his hair long. It’s a mess of curlicues. I never know what surprises my children hold in store for me at any given moment.
Both the boys have decided they want to take a semester off from their studies to backpack around the U.S. They’re starting their adventures by coming to visit me in Oman. Though I’m not happy about them taking a semester off, I am happy they are here. I understand fully that if they had actually gone to school this semester, they couldn’t be here now. So… I’m a little selfish regarding this. I can’t have it both ways, though I would often like to do just that.
We exchange their $300 for a little over 100 Omani Rials, and we haul their suitcases out to my GMC Terrain. Then we drive the long road to Nizwa, where I fill them in on my students at the university, our schedule for tomorrow, possible options for the weekend, and my friends and colleagues at the university. We arrive in Nizwa around midnight.
They’re excited to be in Nizwa, but they’re also tired. So am I. In the past week before their arrival, I moved into a new flat and worked furiously to furnish it appropriately, including getting the plumbing operational and getting beds into place. I also survived the stressful last week of teaching for the fall semester. We are all simply exhausted.
We crash in my new flat, barely taking any time to talk. I tell them I will be waking them around 6 a.m. to take them to the university for my last day of class. I’ve prepared them for this, so they don’t argue. We all just fall asleep, accepting our fate of too little sleep and too much adrenaline. The visit has begun!