American politics from abroad

Since it’s the beginning of the school year, the country has been flooded by new teachers. And since my best friend has moved to a different school from me, I’ve been introduced to far too many of these new teacher people. (I loathe new teachers. They’re like naive freshman squealing about everything they see, and I’m like an alcoholic professor bitterly sipping brandy in the corner. I try to avoid them for at least the first three months they’re here.) And for whatever reason, this one new teacher thought it was wise to bring up American politics when we were chatting over a dinner the other night.

Do not get me started on American politics.

But she did. She basically said she loves Hilary Clinton and can’t wait to absentee vote for her. And I was like “She’s going to lose so hard.” And she was like, “Nah.” And then we started discussing who else would run, and how Ron Paul only ran to set up Rand Paul. And then I suggested that the Republicans were going to run a Hispanic candidate and win. And she was like “Nah.” And then I stopped talking before I started talking shit about American politics.

I hate American politics. I refuse to vote, on principle alone. I find it nauseating when Americans think their vote matters, and I find it hilarious when people think the government even counts absentee ballots. Americans, however, are the most delusional citizens of the world. They seem to think that their politics are the most important politics ever. And they close their eyes to anything that actually impacts the way things are.

And sadly, I am still an American at heart. For example, I just can’t bring myself to believe in the Illuminati. Which is like a requirement here. Everyone believes in the Illuminati, and they’re not being ironic. I spent one evening in a stairwell trying to convince my friend that our other friend is not actually in the Illuminati. And she kept insisting that there’s no way he’s not a total card-carrying member. And I literally got up and walked away from her. Because I am an American and the Illuminati does not exist in my world. Every vote counts and the American president is the most important person in the world. Amen.

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The Post-Him Life

All three of my previous years in Abu Dhabi have revolved around my boyfriend. I met him two months into my life here and he stuck around, either as boyfriend or stalker ex-boyfriend, for the next three years. He was either constantly by my side or constantly in the shadows behind me. His number has always been the one most frequently blowing up my phone, whether we were together or “apart.” (And we were never very good at being apart.)

This year, he is gone. Neither of us is trying to get back together. My phone has only shown his name once since I’ve been back, and that was because of that chlamydia business. I haven’t even run into him in public, which is an interesting change from seeing him constantly lurking around. (Actually that’s a lie, I did see him once. But he was off in the distance, going around a corner away from me, and he didn’t even notice I was there.) He has a steady girlfriend, so even if I wanted him back, I couldn’t do my usual game of just calling him at 4am when I am wasted and at the height of loneliness. It is firmly finished.

I’m still not used to the idea. And it hurts that he got used to the idea before I did. But such is life, I guess.

Last night, a person whom I know through my ex (I know far too many of my acquaintances through my ex) spent a good hour hitting on me. Like, no holds barred, “I want you,” type of shit. He kept going on about how my ex was an idiot for losing me, blah blah blah. (If it wasn’t obvious, I’m not interested, although I enjoyed the attention greatly and totally encouraged it.) At one point in the conversation I was like, “You know [my ex] would kill you, right?”

But upon sober reflection, I don’t actually agree with that rhetorical question’s allegedly obvious answer. I don’t actually think my ex would give a damn.

On some levels that’s liberating. On other levels, it’s offensive. But on most levels, it just feels strange. I’m actually extremely happy with my life lately. It was very nice that the guy was so excited about me. And he’s not the only one that was basically waiting for the day I was single. Which is flattering. But alas, I’m not interested in anyone who has told me about their overwhelming love thus far. (I’m actually waiting for this one specific guy to declare his love, but he doesn’t drink enough to do that type of thing. He’s the only former acquaintance who’s secretly in love with me that I would actually date though.) Basically, I know that eventually I will move on and get a new boyfriend because that’s just how I am. But for right now it feels like something is missing. I sit in my window sill and look at the cars, wondering if he’s in one of them. And then I have to remind myself that his life doesn’t revolve around me anymore.

It’s very disconcerting having to remind myself that I am alone.

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Home

I’ve been back in Abu Dhabi for three days now. In all honesty, I am extremely happy right this moment. I’ve run into a few fellow teachers and spent lots of time with my teacher best friends, and all of them have expressed some slight unhappiness with being back in Abu Dhabi, at one point or another. They dislike the city or they dread going back to work or they miss their homelands.

But there’s also happiness at seeing each other back for another year. We meet the new teachers and we smile and are polite to them, of course, but the ones who’ve been here for two years or more are different. Many new people will leave within the year, or at the end of the year. Two years is most people’s standard contract and that’s the end of a lot of people’s time in the Middle East. But not the two-plus crowd. We live here. We know Abu Dhabi. And we choose to come back, yet again.

One thing that irks me when people express an unhappiness with their lives here is that it is entirely a choice. We’ve been here long enough that we have the work experience to get a job anywhere else. We could go to China, we could go to Australia, we could go back to our homelands. But we choose to come back, for yet another year of this life. There has to be something about it that we like. And yes, a lot of it is the money aspect. But it’s not just money. It’s never just money.

For me, the third year I came back for love. This year, that love is dead. So what is it for this fourth year?

I don’t know what precisely it is that draws me back. But I feel at home here. On my plane coming over, I was behind two Arab-American mothers and their kids. And this one woman was telling the other woman, “I’m going to Saudi. My husband is already there working, so we’re coming to try it. I know I’ll hate it, but we’ll try it.” And I laughed out loud, (even though I was eavesdropping, haha.) It was just such a Middle East moment. I fully understood what she meant about hating life in Saudi, but that you have to try it, and how it’s normal for families to do those types of arrangements, etc. I wouldn’t have found it amusing three years ago. It would have been sad or depressing, but now it is highly amusing and the truest truth.

I also almost clapped my hands in glee when the safety announcements were all in Arabic. I kept repeating the Arabic word for airplane, every time they said it. It was the only word I recognized (really must learn Arabic this year…) but repeating it gave me such glee. As I told my best friend, “These are my people.” And she laughed. Because I am the least Arabic person ever. But for now, this is my home. And I fully accept and love that right now.

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Truer words were never said

Last night an old man at a bar correctly guessed that I was a teacher. He also correctly guessed that my friend was a nurse. He insisted that he could just tell these things because he was old and had been around so many people people and just sensed it.

Later in the evening, I pressed him for more information and he allowed that perhaps he knew I was a teacher because I looked wholesome.

“Wholesome?” I responded a little too loudly.

He sensed I was offended and tried to ameliorate his answer, but I conceded, “Sure, yes, I’m wholesome. I can see it.”

What I really wanted to reply was: “The most wholesome girl with chlamydia you’ll ever meet.”

(Yes, seriously. A lingering gift from my darling exboyfriend. It’ll be gone in 2-3 days, so it probably would have been wise to throw that line in while I had the chance to use it. How often does one get to shock and awe like that, you know?)

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One more week

I have one more week before I head back to Abu Dhabi. In all honesty, I look forward to being back. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the opportunity to spend two months traveling and seeing old friends. It’s great to see new countries and old homes and attempt to reconnect with my people.

But I miss having an apartment of my own. I don’t necessarily miss working, obviously, but I do miss having a routine. I miss having people in my life that I see daily. I miss being around people who know all the details of my life and don’t ask about what we eat in Abu Dhabi. (People in America have quite a fixation on food, I’ve noticed. I cannot think of a single person with whom I didn’t talk about food.)

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The huge plant by the window is my mother’s and will probably take up more space than my crap once I condense it all. It’s a monster plant.

My bedroom currently looks like the photo to the right. I had the things from my storage unit moved to my mom’s house and I’m in the process of going through the items and attempting to sell off the larger pieces. It’s a shitshow at the moment. But eventually I will have streamlined my possessions to the items I actually want, rather than the current accumulation of useless nostalgia and clothes that I no longer find remotely attractive. It’s not going to take a week though; I’ll probably be done in two days. Which leaves five days to go out and accumulate more things because I have nothing else to do with my time!

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