At the end of July, as Abu Dhabi’s heat and humidity was gathering momentum, I joined the exodus of expat wives. Nearly all of the women I have met through school leave for the greater part of the time between the close of schools in July and their reopening in September.
It is an awkward time to fill. Not many people have their own houses to go back to, because they either don’t own a house in their home country, or they rent it out, or they’re involved in some intra-company exchange. Few people would have the resources to travel for the full three months or to live in rented accommodation. This leaves the spare rooms and couches of parents and in-laws and sisters and friends which is okay for one year, maybe two, but after a while you do grow conscious of the liberties you’re taking.
And it’s not just the ‘where will we sleep’ logistics. It’s three months of time to be filled. I tell you, it makes forging a career extremely difficult indeed. You might remember that I found a wonderful, awesome job, but the boys’ summer holidays became a serious impediment to holding down that job. And other people might be able to maintain the rhythms and routines of a freelance life amongst the clutter of moving here and there and taking care of lads and so on, but I’m afraid I have failed at it rather miserably.
This is not to be complaining, because these strange breaks have helped me to create some of the funnest times of our lives, things we would not otherwise have done. It’s just, it takes a lot of thinking, and uses mental and physical energy that can’t then be used for something else. Like forging a career.
This is our third Abu Dhabi summer, making this the third time the mister has driven us out to the airport and we have stood, looking at each other over the tops of our childrens’ heads, our goodbye kiss awkward and modest as befits the time and the place in which we have found ourselves. This time, when I left however, I felt more sure and certain of myself than I ever had before. I found the separation from the mister less unsettling than I ever have before.
This time, you see, I had plans. Things were on the horizon, personally and professionally, and all of them gave me the definition and identity that I have, these last few years, been craving. Things were sorting themselves out.
But then…these last few weeks for one reason or another, some of those reasons good, some of them excellent, some of the dreary and some of them just bad luck…all of those plans have crumbled and I’m even more uncertain now than I was before. All I know is that our return to Abu Dhabi is on the horizon.
Last night, I had an hour or so where I just wanted to shout at the universe. Stop! Please, stop! No more promises and no surprises either. No more bad news. No more good news delivered too late to be anything but ‘oh, if only…’. And then, after I’d had a bit more of a think and given myself a stern talking to, I fell asleep and I dreamt of a labyrinth, lush and green and above it a sky that was deep and blue and the hedge had flowers but they did not make me sneeze.