Okay, so, in the story of my young life, I had reached one of the major turning points: I was leaving the only town that I had ever lived in and was moving to, of all exotic places, Saudi Arabia. Expatriate life. What an adventure!
Now, the company figured that the hardship benefits for taking a job like this had to be very generous because, when you live in a place like that, you make considerable lifestyle sacrifices. Everything becomes more difficult, from food and clothes shopping to getting medical care, but things can be particularly hard if you're a woman or a girl... being unable to work or drive, unable to go out without being covered up, being isolated on a compound in the desert with limited things to do. These things can really wear on you. So, other than covering all your living expenses and giving you a generous food allowance, how do they sweeten the pot even more? Travel. Lots and lots of travel. One home leave a year back to the States and three vacations a year any place else in the world but the US... with the company paying airfare and providing a very nice spending allowance.
In my 13 year old mind, we had hit the JACKPOT. My first time out of the country! I had a shiny new passport in my hand, ready to see the great cities of the world. Dreams filled my head of seeing London, Paris, Rome, all the great places in Europe... and beyond! And we were taking that first vacation on the way to moving to Saudi. Oh, the possibilities! Where would we go?! The suspense was killing me... where would my parents choose for that first trip?!
When we were finally in Saudi and I was meeting the other expat kids from the company, we were comparing notes about our European stopovers. The other kids had all been to places like London and Paris and other celebrated places in the world. Where had we gone? What was the first country outside of the US that I stepped foot in?
Shit. Even among the misfits we were misfits.