The opening notes of the Battle Hymn of the Republic announced the new arrival. The Battle Hymn of the Republic announces everyone’s arrival and until I figure out how to re-program the damn doorbell, it will continue to do so. The canine dervish, Matilda the Demented, barks a welcome drowning out the military march.
I open the front door to a swarthy man in his early twenties inquiring in heavily accented English, if I was, “the Yudi who rents rooms?”
I look out and take note of his four companions waiting in the curb-side parked taxi.
“My cousin” he continued, “told me your address.”
Providence delivered the first one and Allah continues to provide the interminable parade of cousins (they are all cousins). The entire country is related; all of the 200,000 Saudis sent by his Royal Highness King Abdullah to the United States to receive an education. And there are 7,000 princes (they do not count the princesses). And somehow, with astounding regularity, they find their way to my house in paradise. Any place where the temperature is not over 110 degrees and water costs less than oil is paradise, by the way.
The young Saudi men arrive with a suitcase in hand, a prayer rug tucked under their arms, and sometimes a hookah pipe, ready to enter the land of the infidel. And since the Yudi does not eat pork, they continue to come.
“Salaam Alacheim. Come in.”
My daughter once told me, “Ma, someday a burglar is going to show up and you will ask if there are any dietary restrictions that you should be aware of and whether or not they would prefer an upstairs or downstairs room.”
At least the burglar would not have break in. We lost the keys years ago, so the doors are usually open.
From thirty-five nations over the course of forty years there has been world peace—in my kitchen. Koreans who hated the Japanese became friends. Christians did not proselytize. Muslims were curious about the Yudi. The common bond of homesickness and loneliness forged lasting friendships. Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, and Shintoists all manage to live together peacefully under one roof… At least for the time being.
Davida Gregory provides lives in Irvine and provides room and board for international students. She lives with her therapy dog, Matilda the Demented.