The real thing

After a three week sabbatical I finally have enough time and energy to attempt a blog post, although the keyboard on the ipad (or lack thereof) plus the predictive text that i cant seem to turn off may mean it’s a fairly short one.

We have so far completed two weeks in Essex and one in a gloriously sunny London. 4.30am starts due to jet lag lag were quickly replaced by a series of sleepless nights sharing a room with my son, who sleeps with all the peaceful qualities of a ferret with touretts and has apparently developed the tendency to shout out loud in the middle of the night in order to induce a heart attack in anyone within a 5 mile vicinity. As lovely as it was to get a mummy cuddle every morning at 5.30am I am rather glad he has his own room for the remainder of our travels.

So after a fortnight of relaxing in the countryside catching up with friends and spending time with family, we are now in London for another two weeks of what currently feels like a drinkathon crossed with a string of near continuous playdates. Due to rather too much fun and not enough sleep, the bags under my eyes have stretched as far as my cheekbones. My husband is lamenting on a daily basis that I should have really built some rest time into my schedule, but I feel like I can’t waste a single precious minute. Being in London is, quite simply put, my homecoming. I feel like a different person, peeling back the layers of my life like a giant onion as I meet up with friends from school, college, work and that great big ‘other’ category that makes up the most fabulous collection of friends imaginable. It makes me remember who I am, why I am, and how I am. The simplest pleasures – strolling in the sunshine, pubs that spill into the street, fresh vegetables, old buildings, running in the shade of a tree lined park – even the rain, it all feels like a magical moment I want to capture in a box and take with me back to the desert so that any time I am down I can open it up and get this feeling of contentedness again. I miss London so much I ache. I didn’t realise it until we got here, but it’s very plainly highlighted how rich our lives still are here versus Dubai. As individuals, sure, but also as a couple. We simply have so many more friends due to that onion effect, and whilst we might be trying to cram in a year’s worth of socialising into two weeks it does give a very accurate insight into how our lives would be now if we were here. And do I ever miss it.

But it’s not just all me, me, me. I’m amazed and aghast at how different life is for my son here too. Firsts for him include bus rides, train rides, black cab rides, getting muddy, sleeping in a bed (any bed, and not even being remotely weird about it), running headlong down a hill in a park twice as large as anything he’s ever seen, having other men in his life apart from his dad, being given a coin for visiting someone (remember that?), watching the Heathrow flight path for big airplanes, playdates that don’t get cancelled, cbeebies (genius, whoever you are, thank you), getting soaked in the rain, getting a pink nose from the sun, eating ketchup, roast potatoes, and proper sausages, feeding grandad’s fish, hiding in tunnels/under trees/in tents with nanna, and calling his mummy silly and funny, because for once she is relaxed and actually being silly and funny. And I ache for him too, that he will be deprived of all this again much too soon. I didn’t appreciate that I’m not the only one with a relatively lonely existence when we are in Dubai.

Most people have asked us when we will come back. We don’t have a definitive answer but I know that this trip, even though its only halfway gone, has certainly been definitive in terms of wanting to. To turn our backs on all of this life would be impossible. It requires further pondering than my time or brain will currently allow, but it occurs to me it’s not our lack of life in Dubai which is the thing that makes me sad, even though this is what has bothered me most in recent times. It’s knowing how full it could be, how rich it should be, that drives me away from Dubai and makes me green with envy for my other self in this other life I am determined we will live again soon for longer than a few precious weeks a year.
Conversely this realisation doesn’t make me resent going back. Although I might feel differently in a few weeks. But it does inject a strange sort of drive in me to take action and get my life in gear when we do arrive home because I’ve remembered what it should feel like and I need to try and find it no matter where I am. But my desired end goal of leaving Dubai is sadly reinforced. A bit like Pepsi, life there certainly tastes good, but it just can’t compete with the real thing.

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