Friday, April 13: Tonight we go out to the Turkish restaurant in Nizwa for a farewell dinner for Sandy, Malcolm’s wife.  Malcolm and Sandy have been married a long time, and for many years of their marriage they’ve lived apart.  Malcolm spent 10 years working in Saudi Arabia and in other places, while Sandy has kept their home in Britain. For about six years, while their children were young, they both lived together in Turkey.  They share my love for Turkey and Sandy can even speak some Turkish, which she’s happy to be able to practice at this restaurant.  She teaches Theater Arts at St. Helens College and I can see how she would be an excellent teacher.  She’s creative, smart, fun-loving, energetic and lively.  I’m sure her students adore her.

Malcolm & Sandy at the Turkish restaurant

I only met Sandy for the first time when she came to visit Malcolm over Christmas here in Oman.  When I met her, I took an immediate liking to her.  This says a lot for me, because I don’t warm up easily to women.  Maybe because I had a difficult relationship with my mother, I have always stood back and let women make an effort with me; if they don’t make that effort first, I generally keep my head down and go on my merry way.  I don’t know why that is so; it simply is.  Don’t get me wrong, I have longtime girlfriends, especially a group from high school, Rosie, Louise, Charlene and Martha, and my closest friend Jayne, another Brit. When I went to Egypt in July, 2007 I became close friends with Lisa, a Pennsylvanian-turned-Muslim. Again, it was Lisa’s outgoing and fun-loving personality, and her confidence in an easy alliance with me, that made us friends.  These are my dearest friends and you can see I count them on fewer than two hands!

Sandy and me at the Turkish restaurant

I feel around Sandy like I feel with my nearest and dearest friends, even though we’ve known each other only briefly.  When she arrived in Oman this time, she came with gifts in hand: the book Odyssey with the Goddess, because she knew I was planning a trip to Greece, the DVD of Shirley Valentine, and some wildflower seeds.  She also presented me with a book I asked her to pick up for me in Britain, One Thousand Chestnut Trees by Korean author Mira Stout.  Later still, she presented me with another book: Unsuitable for Ladies: An Anthology of Women Travellers by Jane Robinson.

It isn’t because of the gifts that I like her, although that’s an added benefit!! It’s because of her thoughtfulness and a general affinity that we share.  We can see things clearly as they are, and we can openly talk about these things.  We have a similar outlook on many issues.  She believes in the power of women, and is against the subjugation of women, as am I.  We share a similar sense of humor and a sense of awe; we are similarly critical of problems and inconsistencies in people that we can see.

Sometimes you cannot put your finger on why you like someone.  Sometimes it’s just how you feel when you’re in their company.  With Sandy, I feel I can be myself, and that’s all okay.  She’s not judgmental; she’s encouraging.  I feel we are part of a mutual admiration society.

Sadly, Sandy takes off Saturday night for home.  Malcolm will go to Britain to visit her and their family this summer for 6 weeks, during his annual leave.  But I won’t see her again until she comes back to Oman next December.  It will be a long eight months…. 😦

Fare thee well, my friend! 🙂