We’re headed back to Vermont in two days for two weeks. Wasn’t it August 25 just four minutes ago when we arrived in Abu Dhabi? Nope. It was four months ago. And so very much has happened since then.
I think it’s time for a re-account, not to be confused with a recount. Actually, this whole experience has added up nicely (mostly), so let’s review the best parts that form this sum.
1. Hotel Abu Dhabi: Our landing pad in Abu Dhabi, the Ramee Royal — home to a brothel as well as a couple of kooky housekeepers who liked to arrange David’s stuffed animals into vignettes. I will forever love the Ramee for being a bit of a freakshow but also for being as welcoming as….hmm….can’t quite draw any comparison. There is no place like your first home away from home, especially if it’s the Ramee Royal.
2. Kayaking in the Mangroves: David and I loved those two-hours of paddling. Actually, I loved the paddling and David loved not paddling. Anyway, at one point he said, “This is the best moment of my life.” It was worth all MY paddling to carry him to that revelation. Our kayaking tour ended with a fruit salad on a little beach. A few weeks later we moved into an apartment building called “Mangrove Place.” Coincidence? I think not. Home, especially for a mermaid in the desert, is where the mangroves are.
3. The Club: Our spot for rest and relaxation gave us many gifts — a beach swimming hole, a swimming pool, a library, excellent meals, and two sets of extraordinary friends: Adam and Abbi; and,
Simi and Chris. Turns out that Simi and I may be identical twins despite the fact that she’s brown and I’m pink. When David and I went to Oman in October, guess who turned up at the same waterfront location as us? Adam and Abbi, as well as Simi and Chris. Divine intervention? I think yes. And because of them, and their unique cross-cultural histories, I realize that you can be at home anywhere.
4. Khalifa University: Well, on my second day of work — a job that I waited six months for — I was given the task of reviving a huge event even though it seemed dead in the water. I hated it. I loved it. And I pulled the whole thing off thanks to my really extraordinary colleagues. Sayed and Sumita in particular. They didn’t know me yet they had my back on day one. I would walk a hundred miles in the desert for them. My boss Omar, too, who believed I was the best man for the job — even though I am a woman. The point is that my workplace in Abu Dhabi defies all the stereotypes of gender and ethnicity in the Middle East. I defied a few things, too, by dressing as a traditional Emirati on National Day. I am very much at home at Khalifa despite a million reasons why I shouldn’t be.
5. My family: I simply can not say enough about Allan and David, as well as our kin back home. Allan has worked harder than I have ever witnessed; David has adapted better than I had ever imagined. Truth is that it’s not easy to relocate from the USA to the UAE. In fact, it’s hard as hell. We’ve barfed, fought and cried a lot. But, somehow, we’ve prevailed. And, yes, it hurts to be far away from our extended family. So why do we do it?
See numbers 1-4.
And see you soon, Vermont — home sweet home!