Comfort (Inn) and Joy


This will be a Christmas to remember.

We’re all snuggled in the Comfort Inn and Suites in Burlington, Vermont. We even have a small tree under a floor lamp, as well as a wreath onIMG_4347 our door.

We’re feeling festive despite our confusion about timezone and place. The temperature has dropped 60 degrees from Abu Dhabi; the landscape has shifted from seaside desert to lakeside green mountains. We wake up at 3:30 a.m. and fall asleep at 7:30 p.m. In fact, it’s 5:30 p.m. right now and David just went to bed.

IMG_4328There are many joys associated with being home, of which the grand babies get top billing. The new one — due on April  21 — is going to be a boy,  as announced to the extended fake-mustache-wearing family on Dec. 21.

Beckett is going to be a big brother!  When I had a chance to speak and cuddle with Beckett, he said, “I’ve been waiting for you.”  My heart grew three sizes.

On Christmas Day, we get to see the bundle of joy known as Baby Lilly. I plan to tell her the same thing Beckett told me. I’ve been waiting for her.

We’ve spent a lot of our time, thus far, buying and shipping gifts, dealing with banks and bills, and catching up with or bumping into old friends. Allan tends to get EXTRA goofy under the influence of jet lag and winds up buying stuff we don’t need. Today, I had to physically stop him from buying a $99 ChuckFullSizeRendery Doll.

When you live on both sides of the world, you tend to feel split in two all the time. Over there you vs. here you are. I’ve spent four months missing everyone here. Now I’m here, I’m missing a few things about back there. This isn’t something new but rather the narrative of my life. I’m always torn about something wherever I am.

The only surprise this time is what I’m fixated on. It’s not the weather. Nor is it the view from apartment.

It’s Rocky.

I know that I’ve never mentioned him before, but I suddenly can’t get him out of my mind.

Rocky is one of the “office boys” at Khalifa University. He wears a tidy little vest over a white shirt and navy pants. Three times a day, Rocky brings me a cup of coffee. He’d bring more if I wanted.  Rocky and I have the same “conversation” every day.

Rocky looks at me from the doorway with a sweet smile. images

I nod my desire for coffee.

Rocky returns some time later with my coffee on a tray. He puts the cup on my desk, sweet grin still intact.

“Thank you, Rocky. Thank you so much,” I tell him. I want him to know that I deeply appreciate his work, which must be remarkably unrewarding — even though he smiles through it all. Rocky is from Sri Lanka and is, no doubt, helping support a family with the measly salary he earns bringing coffee to the staff.

Rocky always responds to my gratitude with the same phrase, uttered in a soft quiet voice.

“It’s okay,” he whispers.

I imagine that Rocky is trying to comfort me. He’s saying that he’s okay. That I don’t need to feel sorry for him. He’s telling me that I’m alright too.

It’s okay.

Rocky is right. In fact, he’s reminiscent of a certain person born this day in the city of David.

God bless us, every one.



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Al says:

    Rocky may be bringing you coffee but it is NOT the coffee we live from here… my problem with the UAE is that nothing I cook eat or taste is like BACK HOME!
    I am happy for you and Rocky but I am happier for the three of us making another memory here in the comfort of our own inn.

  2. Al says:

    I did not want to seem un-feeling about Rocky and when I re-read my comment, it seemed as if I was more concerned about how I felt about “us” being here. I am in no way unsympathetic about all of the “Rocky’s” in the UAE and believe me there are many! At NYFA the “office boy” ( or servant as I know them) is Mohammed…he is in his 40’s and a talented electrician and has three children…but what is he forced to do here in the UAE? Bring coffee, carry bags, and “serve” the admin of NYFA. He brings coffee on a platter to my colleague Imad, he carries in the bags of another Ali, while I refuse to have him do anything for me (not for any other reason than I do t feel right having someone do something for me that I can do)…it does’t make me any better than anyone for denying these “pleasures”? But it does make me feel like me. I wish all these laborers well and I hope their lives improve with the pittance they make because it is the only job they can get…I hope and pray only good for them and their families…that is what I think and do!

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