While I was in America, I realized that there are certain things that some people seem to think about my life/the world/Arabs/the Middle East that are not necessarily true.
They think my choices are severely limited in regards to food. While I admit that I was overwhelmed by the insane amount of choices in America, (why does a bodega need fifty types of chips?) I can still get almost everything I want here. People would ask me what foods I wanted that I can’t get here and I couldn’t truly think of anything. Abu Dhabi has a very international population, with cuisine options to match.
They think media doesn’t reach outside America. Countless people asked me if they had “this song” (whatever song that might be) in Abu Dhabi. And I had to remind them that even if it wasn’t played in clubs (as most popular songs are) there was also this Internet thing that carried media all over the world.
They think all people can travel easily. Non-Americans/Westerners cannot travel easily, dear privileged passport holders. People seem to think my boyfriend can just hop on over to the States to meet my family and friends, no problem. And I’m staring at them like, “You’re kidding, right?” So then I have to tell them anecdotes about the numerous people I know who’ve been rejected by the American embassy. And then I have to explain that even Americans have to get visas to visit certain lands.
They think sheikh is pronounced “sheek.” It’s not, it’s pronounced “shake.” I know this is the media’s fault, but seriously, who started that one?
I’ve been back in Abu Dhabi for a few days now. On my way home, I was surprised to find one of my best Abu Dhabi friends on my second flight, the one back to our home. We didn’t get to sit together, but we did commiserate about how miserable the 14 hours flight was afterwards, as my boyfriend drove us to our respective apartments.
I’ve since spent all my time with said boyfriend. We’re quite sickly in love. One night we went out and were grossly all over each other. I remember it and shudder, to be honest. I would blame him for the PDA, but it wasn’t just him at all. We’ve also spent a lot of time cuddling and watching Game of Thrones, to the point where we’re almost caught up. We also almost cooked food instead of ordering in for the hundredth time the other day. One of these days we might actually do it!
I have a to-do list of things I’d like to get done for before work starts up again. (Which is in about a week.) But alas, I fear that I won’t get to any of it because I’m too busy draining all the delight out of the last drops of my summer. Especially as all my friends start trickling in. The friend who was on my flight flew out two days later to go scout wedding venues in Africa. I’ve seen my boyfriend’s friends, whom I also enjoy, but none of mine are in town just yet.
The worst part of summer is most definitely seeing the end in sight… I’m not ready to go back to work, wah!
For the last portion of my trip to America, I was in Colorado.
It was surprisingly breathtaking. I know it shouldn’t be surprising that Colorado is breathtaking because everyone always talks about its beauty, plus I’ve actually been before and I know how beautiful it is. And yet, I was still surprised by the amount of breath that was taken away. Especially in those mountains. I would literally walk for five minutes and be winded. And before you tell me that’s because I smoke too many cigarettes, my friend who never smokes was equally winded.
Perhaps we are just a bit out of shape.
There was also a lot of splendid wildlife, like a herd of goats (or sheep? I can’t remember) that were just chilling on the sides of the roads. (Which were terrifying roads. My friend’s dad took great pleasure in freaking me out by driving far too close to the cliffs.) The goats/sheep were also very not afraid of humans or cars and had no problem coming right up to me as I was taking my gawking photographs. I am an urban girl, through and through, but I do also enjoy nature and wildlife, I remembered.
And the weed was rampant throughout my time in Colorado. Although to be fair, it was also rampant everywhere else I went in America. Here in the UAE it is highly illegal and nearly impossible to come by, but in America, it was offered to me on five separate occasions by different friends and I could have procured it easily anywhere. But nowhere else as easily as Colorado and its weed shops. You literally just walk into them and can buy a ton of different types of weed. No medical license necessary, you just have to prove you’re over 21. It blew my mind.
I don’t think I could ever live in Colorado though because I’m white and would not enjoy participating in its special brand of racism. Segregation is like whoa. I saw so many blonde people and very few non-white people. Because I am white. We also went to Boulder which made me queasy. They’re apparently attempting to create an exclusive community of rich white people who think they’re better than everyone else because they use solar energy. That is how I would summarize a brief explanation of their recent laws, given to me by someone who also said, “There’s only like 8% Republicans, how great is that?” I did not mention my Republican membership and diplomatically replied, “That is great for some people, yes.”
But overall I did really enjoy my time in Colorado and I will definitely visit again one day!
One more week of my vacation in America. It seems as if I’ve been here a very long time. I’ve seen many, many pets. I’ve also seen someone throw a glass across a bar and have to be dragged out. I’ve seen many crazy people talking to themselves. I’ve eaten delicious foods and been confused by a plethora of options everywhere. I know nothing of beer types. I watched my friend’s son and had to change a dirty diaper for the first time in a long time. I’ve caught up on all the gossip for the past year. I’ve slept in too many not-my-bed places. I miss my bed.
And I miss my boyfriend. And my clothes. I’m going shopping now because I am so sick of the outfits I brought with me. And in a week, I shall be on my way home!
I’ve been in New York for a little over a week now (although it seems much longer and I was shocked to just do the math; I was guesstimating closer to two weeks.) When I come to New York, I stay with various friends, including one friend who lives in Bushwick, the land of gentrification.
It is truly mind-blowing to see how this neighborhood has changed. I once lived in Bushwick, six years ago, for two years. When I moved in, I lived above a strip club called Angels and across the street from a questionable establishment called Platinum Lounge. We did not fit in in such places, although I did occasionally, drunkenly peek into Angels and it never failed to disappoint for illegal activities. There were two bars nearby that had other gentrifying people, although neither was particularly popular and they held weird hours due to their sparse clientele. There was one coffee shop, roughly ten minutes away, that was very hip and was only open for like four hours of the day. But on a daily basis, we were the only gentrifiers we encountered. It was impossible to get anyone to visit us, so we socialized elsewhere. The neighborhood was just a fantastically cheap place for us to live.
This year, my friend and I have almost exclusively hung out in Bushwick. People from other parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan have went out of their way to converge here to hang out with us. There is no shortage of trendy bars and restaurants to hop between. We head out around noon for our first meal and don’t make it back until 4am or later, after closing a bar that still had multiple people in it, regardless of the day of the week. Every other person clearly did not grow up in this neighborhood (while the person in between clearly did.) There are very few blocks that don’t have some sort of business that is catering to the gentrification population.
I don’t really care one way or another about the morality of gentrification (gentrification is inevitable, so the morality is irrelevant,) but I am amazed at the speed of it. When I visit my hometown, it’s revolutionary if there’s a new shop opening anywhere in a three town radius. Here in Bushwick, it’s a plethora of new everything, all the time. By next summer, it will be a totally different world, yet again.