Saturday, June 15, 2013
Imprisoned in Saudi Arabia: The Rooftop Exercise Routine
“What I can do – I will. Though it be little as a daffodil. What I cannot, must be unknown to possibility.” -Emily Dickinson #71
By the end of my first month in Saudi Arabia, I was still exercising on my rooftop every day. Within those four walls 40 X 40 feet, whether beneath noontime’s burning sun or midnight moon, rain or sandstorm, I remained faithful.“What Thou do’st is delight. Bondage as play be sweet. Imprisonment content and sentence sacrament, just as two meet!” -Emily Dickinson #154
Some of the other teachers started catching on. They’d see me through their windows and ask me about it the next day on the early morning bus. They’d nod. Stare off in the sand. We all knew whatever it took to keep sane was worth it.“To offer brave assistance to lives that stands alone when one has failed to stop them is human – but divine to lend an ample sinew until a nameless man whose homely benediction on other cared to earn.” -Emily Dickinson #27
As things became worse with management, some teachers were beginning to unravel. Mad Dog kicked over an office chair and Flintstone and Crooner Joe had to be separated. Wee Scott Bob was pissing everybody off, bragging about his years at ARAMCO, how he felt he should be lead teacher, how we all needed to be whipped into shape.“My faith is larger than the hills. So when the hills decay, my faith must take the purple wheel to show the sun the way.” -Emily Dickinson #58
Bangkok Phil would sit tight and cramped on the bus seat, arms resting across his enormous bloated belly, and tell stories, “A couple years ago in Chiang Mai they closed the school without telling anybody. Locked us out Monday morning. Still owe me five grand.”
Jeremiah Thumbs scoffed, “There’s no honor among these foreign schools. It’s every man for himself.”
“All the more reason for discipline,” shot back Wee Scott. “There are no real teachers here. You’re all just hired hands.”“The world feels dusty when we stop to die; we want the dew then. Honors taste dry.” -Emily Dickinson #109
We’d arrive home dusty and beaten. That desert heat taking such a toll on a body. I’d drag my limbs to the apartment, unlock the door and literally drop on the bed fully clothed in shirt, tie and shoes. Asleep before I hit the mattress.
“But he who waiteth while the rest expend their inmost pound, of this man I am wary. I fear that he is Grand.” -Emily Dickinson #3
I’d awake in the dark and feel myself breathing. I had to move. Undress and dress. Up the back steps to the rooftop. Another day. Another run. Another day. Another run. Keep your legs moving, boy. You’ll pass through this fire.