Define your home; what is the first thing that comes to mind? For me, Aramco is home. Odd, right? Referring to the production of oil as somewhere to call home, Aramco is distinct in the sense that it is one of the few remaining company towns. Aramco is the most valuable company in the world, providing desirable benefits to its employees that include education, health care, recreation, and model residential communities that are diverse and rich in culture. I was lucky enough to call one of these company communities my home for the first 15 years of my life.
Growing up I was shielded from societal issues made possible by the idealistic world of Aramco. I feel like I grew up with a pair of safety goggles that showed me only one side of the world, a side that was carefree, happy, and filled with optimism. It was only later, when I was forced to take-off those safety goggles, did I understand the realities of life with its good, bad, and ugly.
Without the goggles, I saw life’s pains and troubles, but at Aramco we all lived in this secure compound with replicated houses, manicured lawns, scenic parks, and an abundance of casual gathering spots to lounge and catch-up with friends. While the environment could be described as unnatural, it was my reality and all I knew.
Aramco citizens found many ways to integrate cultures creating a unique and truly exclusive atmosphere. An example would be the annual chili festival, which for some reason my family always looked forward to with great enthusiasm. This was a very serious event that included a competition to judge which Aramco mom made the best chili. My mom would spend all morning perfecting our family batch, which we would later take to the horse stables, known by everyone in Aramco as “The Hobby Farm.”
I remember cold mornings helping my mom prep onions and beans and celery. We refused to leave the house until our batch of chili had the stamp of approval from every member of our family. Unfortunately, the closest we ever got to winning was second place, which we achieved one year. However, this experience will forever be etched in my memory, bringing back feelings of happiness and warmth, all part of the nostalgia to a place I call home.
We created a “home” in the most unusual of places. A place that at its core is not supposed to be homey because of its temporary status, a company housing compound. However, among the replicated homes of the Aramco camp with its monochromatic buildings, a vibe was created by the people of Aramco, who sought a sense of normalcy within the confines of the housing community. Aramco will always be my home. I have learned to disregard the confused faces I see following that statement. We the Aramcons have forever imprinted the Aramco logo in our hearts, because when we look back to this “oil company,” we remember the best moments in our lives.
Your Voice reflects the thoughts and opinions of the writer, and not necessarily those of the publication.