by Khaled Alqahtani
It’s the 10th week of the semester, and I’m thrilled to announce that I haven’t had a breakdown (yet). Although I’ve been on the verge of many, taking the semester back home and being closer to everything I’m familiar and intimate with has managed to bring me comfort every single time. And I’ve been recently just observing and documenting them in an attempt to immortalize them, or at least fully appreciate and celebrate them as I'm constantly haunted by the idea of losing them.
Expressions of intimacy, both physical and verbal, have always been explicit around me: kisses, hugs, and all. But it took me too long to recognize and decode the implicit ones. My inability to recognize them was a result of me speaking only my love language, which I used with others without considering if it was enough for them or not. I didn't even slightly try to understand it because I thought my language was the only way to do it. I'm currently learning how to speak their languages and understand their definitions of love and intimacy, and how they like and feel comfortable to express them.
My mother asks me every evening to share a cup of mint-tea with her. My dad touches my head and whispers a prayer every time he passes by me. My siblings share their favorite Sheeren's songs with me. I can list at least one sign every person I know uses to show their closeness to me and other people around them.
Being homesick while in Berkeley was my only personality trait at one point: "home" and everything this term entailed was everything I talked about and yearned for. And it was these small moments that I always longed for while being away, and they're the ones that always kept making go back when I knew that home didn't always love me back.
I'm facing the same issue of longing for people and Berkeley right now while I'm back home. Yet I'm instead trying to just appreciate them and bask in what I have now instead of constantly yearning for what I don't have between my hands.