The past couple of months have been very emotional for me.
I’ve said goodbye to several of my friends who left the country and returned to Canada, California, or Manchester (including one who left last month and 2 just this week).
Last year was my first experience with saying goodbye to a friend.
I met Mariam when we sat next to each other on a visa run to Oman. It just so happened that our sons were born only a few months apart, so we immediately set up a play date the following week. We ended up getting together at least twice a month. Our sons, Khizer and Micah, had so much fun playing together, while Mariam and I spent hours drinking strong coffee and bonding.
Mariam was a Canadian citizen, and she knew that one day soon she would go back to Canada to raise her son there. I knew that she was going to leave someday, but it hit me hard when she told me that their tentative departure date was in a few months.
Before I knew it, they were gone.
I miss Mariam’s delicious vegetable and ground beef samosas, and I regret never learning her recipe.
I miss our heart-to-heart chats.
I miss our sons’ friendship. Khizer was the first friend that Micah made out here. He was the first child that Micah really bonded with who wasn’t his cousin.
I even miss Mariam offering me cigarettes. When I would politely decline, she always responded, “Good, smoking is horribly bad for you,” while she lit one up for herself.
Mignon and her husband Arte just left back to California. They lived on the 88th floor of the Burj Khalifa, and Arte was the one who asked Anthony to come to Dubai to work with him on designing theme parks.
When we first heard that we were moving to Dubai, Mignon immediately became my ‘go-to’ source to help us fill out the mountains of paperwork needed to leave the US and work in the UAE. She wrote me detailed emails about getting our documents attested, what women wear over here, and just general support about our move.
When I was nervous about something, Mignon immediately put my mind at ease.
And, even better, she absolutely loved Micah, and the feeling was more than mutual. Every single time we passed by the Burj Khalifa, Micah would always say, “Who lives there? Mignon!” And then he would wave to her and ask when we were going to the Burj Khalifa to see Mignon again.
Well, the Burj Khalifa is still there, but Mignon and her husband Arte are not.
Without them, this whole journey would never have started.
For that, they’ll always have a special place in our hearts and our family history.
Last month, Lynsey left Dubai to return home to the UK.
Our sons were in the same class, and Connor quickly introduced himself and became Micah’s first friend in class. That same week, Lynsey introduced herself to me, saying that Connor couldn’t stop talking about the new boy in his class. 🙂
Lynsey and I ended up scheduling play dates outside of school so that we could get some much needed adult interaction while the boys played.
I miss her funny sense of humor and how much we laughed together. Her accent reminded me of Mel C. from the Spice Girls. 😛 THAT is a compliment cause as everyone knows, I am obsessed with the Spice Girls.
On one play date with our boys, I told Lynsey, “Micah’s so full of sass.”
She responded, “What was that word you used? … ‘Sass’?”
“Yes, sass.” 😀
She laughed, “That’s so American!”
Another compliment, I’m sure! 😉 I always loved to hear Lynsey’s British sayings, like when she called us a “bunch of nutters,” after we played a silly hair clip game at one of our kids’ classmate’s birthday parties. 🙂
I miss our conversations every day while we waited for our boys to get out of school.
I miss smart & sweet Connor and how close he became with my son. I’ll never forget how Connor proudly introduced Micah, “This is Micah. He’s my best mate.” ❤
Debbie found me through a Facebook community playgroup. She virtually introduced herself to me after seeing that I was from California too, and (surprise) we lived across the street from each other! What a small world.
Although we only met this year, we got together at least once a week.
I miss how Debbie would randomly call me to go out for coffee, breakfast, or a random trip to the grocery store or Ikea.
I miss having someone, besides my husband, who knows exactly what it feels like to just miss shopping at COSTCO!
I miss talking with Debbie and her husband, while Micah had a great time with her darling daughters.
I’m certainly not writing this to make anyone feel guilty about leaving Dubai to start a new chapter in their lives. 😀 I knew what I was signing up for when we became friends. 😛 Just the fact that so many of my friends have left in such a short time really made me think about the harsh realities of an expat country. It’s all fleeting. Nobody really wants to stay in this new country forever. This isn’t home, just a layover for your future life in your home country.
By definition, an immigrant is someone who permanently leaves their home country in order to start a new life in another country. An expatriate, or expat, is someone who also lives outside of their home country, but typically only temporary, like just to work somewhere for a few years. The expat life feels like your heart is constantly in two different places, with half in the home that you left behind and the other half trying to really love the new country that you’re in. It even feels weird saying, “Let’s go home.” Because even that is open to interpretation. Which home? California? Or the one in Dubai?
You will eventually meet other expats who are going through the same struggles. If you’re lucky like me, these people will eventually become your close friends.
I hope that all of these fabulous women don’t just become someone who “I used to know all those years ago in Dubai,” but people that I can connect with no matter how many miles are between us. I hope this kind of longevity for all friends who somehow find one another and bond through shared experience, thousands of miles away from their home countries.
So this post is for all the expat friendships out there, the ones who understand what it’s like to learn how to live a completely new life in a totally different country.
To those friends who politely listened while we reminiscence about the taste of Double Doubles at In-N-Out, or the perfect Southern California weather, or even the random fantastic clearance sales at Target.
To the people who know exactly what you mean when you talk about Dubai’s crazy drivers, questionable customer service, or interesting-tasting meat.
To the equally homesick ones who know how it feels to wish more than anything that you could be home for the holidays or for a birthday party or just for a simple Sunday at your parents’ house.
These are the people who helped make Dubai feel like home for me. Although we’re no longer in the same country, I hope that the memories that we made together sustained you through this journey as much as it did for me…
We’ll always have Dubai.