And so, the countdown begins. With a few days to go until we leave Dubai for the summer, they can’t go fast enough and yet I need them to be an extra hour longer to get everything done. My suitcase lingers half full waiting for the ironing pile to make its way inside. I have a two page packing list for my son’s case which will be done over the weekend. The hand luggage will be stuffed to bursting on Sunday night and I’ll spend the next day sweating and swearing about how much crap I put inside when I have to carry a rucksack full of toys, a nappy bag and a toddler the inevitable 14 mile walk from the plane to passport control at Gatwick airport.
I have mixed feelings about leaving for seven weeks. On the one hand, we are leaving our home, our cats, our routine. I am supremely stressed about the travel, as always, which will be a trial from start to finish with no-one to help me. Then there are the sleeping arrangements for my son to worry about, who has grown out of his travel cot and will sleep in a bed for the first time when we reach the UK. I have little hope that I will get much sleep for the first week whilst he simultaneously recovers from jet lag and discovers he can get out of his bed and into mine with no barriers. Due to weeks and weeks of confinement inside, we are worn out, pasty white and have been constantly sick with something or another, and I’m so damn exhausted from trying to keep this stupid super-sized house clean (the maid is away as well) that I have no hope of not completely losing the plot within 48 hours of us landing. Probably at my mother or my son or both. So apologies to both of you in advance, it’s nothing personal – it’s just I’m knackered before I even start this travel marathon, and part of me wishes I could check into a spa for a week instead and be left alone to sleep and read magazines whilst being massaged until my muscles fall off.
On the other hand…I’m going home. To Essex and clean fresh air and green fields and friends and family, to watch my son run around a garden made of real grass with the people who matter most. To London to hang out in pubs and bars and restaurants in cobbled streets that smell of tramp (who knew you could miss that smell). To New York where I leave a little bit of my heart every time we visit. To Massachusetts, to reunite with my husband’s family after a full year apart and play on the beaches and relax to the sound of the ocean. Seven weeks doesn’t seem long enough to get my fix of all of this before I have to head back to the desert. It makes my heart ache thinking about how little time I actually have to soak it all up, and take everybody and everything in before we return. Despite being back for so long, I’m seeing most people only once because there simply isn’t time for any more. It breaks my heart having to cram in all our news, laughter, and enjoyment of eachother into one evening and that be enough to last me until, well, who knows when.
I will, of course, make my annual attempt to persuade everyone to come and visit us sometime over the winter. Despite all my gripes about living here, Dubai is a truly great place to come on holiday and I love having our friends and family visit because as well as the fact that they always have a really good time, I like to think it gives an insight into our lives here, and helps them to know us better as we spend more and more years away. I love seeing our friends and family in a relaxed environment where they are not running off to work, and having the time to spend reconnecting that I don’t get on trips home because there are just so many people to spread myself around. It also helps cure the homesickness during the long periods we are in Dubai, to see a familiar face or two and catch up with the day to day back home.
But even with visitors to support us in our quest to keep up, we do miss things and the summer is our chance to make sure we haven’t been forgotten about entirely. I can’t wait and yet I need to put up some emotional barriers to stop me from feeling too much or I’ll never be able to leave. I know everyone’s going to tell me about traffic jams and rain and cold and no housemaids and financial crises and how nobody sees eachother anyway and I know that seven weeks of summer isn’t real life, I really do. But it is my life, fast tracked into less than two months, that I would usually live over the course of a year, and it’s a rush and a downer at the same time, to know it’s all I’ve got.
The next blog entry will no doubt be from somewhere a long way west of here. However it’s fair to say that I plan to make the most of my summer and therefore you won’t find me sitting at a computer that often. With any luck those who have substituted talking to me or emailing me with reading this (and I have had at least two admissions that this is the case – one from my own sister!) will prefer the live version and forgive the slow-down in production. For the rest of you, I’m sure there will be plenty to read come September when I’m sulking about being back in Dubai. Wishing you a all a wonderful summer, just like mine is going to be. Bring it on.