Seven years ago this weekend, we landed in Dubai for the first time, for my husband’s interview with the company that would move us here and change our lives forever.
SEVEN YEARS AGO. I apologise for sounding incredibly middle-aged, but where the hell did that go?
I was barely in my 30s, not even married, and now I’m staring at 40 and have a three year old son.
Despite this only being a ‘temporary’ move, it is the longest we have ever lived in the same house.
I have friends I made here who I have known for longer than a lot of people’s marriages last.
Our marriage has lasted.
I have missed seven years of reality TV, politics and celebrity gossip. I have no hope of ever catching up with it all and feel rather fortunate about it.
I have not been inside an office for seven years.
I panic at the thought of having to walk about in cold weather.
Actually, I panic at the thought of having to walk anywhere.
There are people I have not seen in seven years and yet I’m still surprised when I see them on Facebook and they look older than they did when I last saw them.
I am seven years older than I was before and yet I’m still surprised when I see myself on Facebook and I look older than I did when I left the UK.
Seven years is a long time, and this year has certainly been the best of them by a country mile, although I optimistically predict that next year will be just as much fun – if not more. But for now I can only conclude that seven is indeed a lucky number, because when I think of all we have enjoyed, experienced and achieved since we first arrived, there is little that I would change. Maybe if you’d have asked me before now, I would have wished we had gone home after three, four, five years. But it took me so long to adjust to being here and to embrace and understand expat life – and motherhood on top of that – that had we moved back while I still wanted to go so desperately, I’m not sure I would have accepted that my life has changed, and that I have changed for the better as a result of all of it.
On this basis, should we return to the UK within the next few years, I can optimistically expect to start enjoying myself again somewhere just shy of 2025.