July 15, 2012

Going home

The dates are ripe and it's time to go home. In a little over a day, I will be back in my precious New York City.

I couldn't sleep last night from the excitement. And also the anxiety. I haven't seen my friends in almost a year. I'm different. They're different. How do I catch them up on all of the insane things that have happened to me this year? Or explain my day to day life in this strange land?

There is no way to explain how normal it became to hear a call to prayer five times a day. To talk to a mother in a veil. To have a boyfriend who sprinkles his sentences with Arabic phrases without thinking twice about it. To avoid going outside for fear of heat rash. To maintain a Western lifestyle in an Islamic country. To run the line between appropriate to people of this country and appropriate to me. To teach children with whom I have nothing in common with, culturally. To see the date palms as they ripen.

My American friends are never going to understand. But I can't wait to see them all the same.

(I will be back in Abu Dhabi the second week of August. It's likely I won't update until then. Apologies.)


  1. They say there's nothing quite like coming home after travelling and finding everything/everyone else just the same as you went away.

    One of my good friends recently moved to NYC and I'm jealous seeing all her Instagram photos.

    Safe flying and a good trip home :)

  2. Moving to a new country, especially to the UAE, is life changing and will make anyone grow up/change in a lot of ways. My mom was only 22 when she left the Philippines to work in Oman as a nurse. She lived there for 8-9 years until I was conceived. She often recalls a lot of great times in Oman and she fondly recalls her many nights of disco partying there (in the 80s).

    I'm sure your friends will be interested to hear your stories about Abu Dhabi. Not many of them can relate, but your stories will be worthwhile. Enjoy your trip back to New York!

  3. So jealous you're in a climate where you can eat nonstop dates!

  4. Have fun in New York! You certainly deserve it after a grueling many months abroad! You guys should go grab some food and a few nice drinks, and the stories will come spilling out (well, at least that's what my high school friends and I do).

    I think that your friends might be surprised, perhaps a bit exasperated, like many of your readers were. But I think that most of us believed you, and your friends might too.

  5. Welcome home! Good luck with the weather transition, but it's actually not cold here for once.

    I don't think your friends will find anything weird. Going abroad is very normal! They're probably curious about your life in a drastically different country like UAE. All of the things you listed I would've expected, because that's just what goes on in an Islamic country. If your friends can't understand, then are they not from New York? Just kidding!

    But hey, have fun here! It's exciting to see your friends after a whole year. I haven't seen my best friend for nearly a year, and it's never awkward to share anything.

  6. Hello. I've nominated you for the Reader Appreciation Award. It's always nice to tell people you appreciate them.