Shit just got real

Being back to Abu Dhabi life has been pretty lackluster for me. There’s just work and trying to be responsible and little fun and no bae. Last weekend I felt very numb to my social endeavors, to the point that I didn’t even attempt to make plans for the first night of this weekend. Instead I spent this Thursday (our Friday) evening on Skype with bae for roughly six hours. (Hashtag Skype lyfe.) Tomorrow I am going to a birthday party and I will socialize with humans in the flesh, but for tonight I really just couldn’t pretend to care.

He told his parents that I exist this week. It’s a huge deal for a lot of families here to admit there is a girlfriend/boyfriend. For this generation, many young adults think dating is normal, but the parents still want to pretend premarital sex doesn’t happen and there’s only light courtships and flirtations before engagement. So people date on the low, sometimes for years, and if you’re in public and you see a family friend, you drop each others’ hands and pretend you’re just chilling and not madly in love. Telling the parents is formally admitting, “This person is the one. We’re probably getting married soon. That’s where I’ve been all this time. You can still pretend the time was spent platonically if you’d like.”

As he was recounting the conversation to me, I was highly amused. “Is she Muslim?” was one of the first, (to be expected) questions. And when he said no (and then no to “Is she converting?”), she asked, “And what about your children? What will they be?” (Muslim. Duh. Chill.) She also asked if I wear bikinis. And at one point she asked if I’m going to be a “partier” or “live in.” And I was like, what the hell does “live in” mean? From his explanation, I gather that it doesn’t translate well, but comes down to whether or not I’ll be around the house to take care of things.

He (accidentally?) lied about how old I was. But only by a year, which still leaves me three years older. When I asked him why, he admitted, “I don’t know!” I gather that he was nervous, which is cute. And aadi. (Aadi means normal.) I do recall being nervous to tell my mom, and my mom doesn’t even care what I do with my life.

His mom also asked “Is she blind?” at one point. Which is hilarious because she wanted to know how on earth I could love such a son, who has no money, no degree, no job, and a lot of silly habits. She meant it affectionately and jokingly, I gather, but also semi-seriously curious about my level of delusion. She sounds charmingly hilarious.

His dad said little in the conversation, but apparently that is aadi.

The next step is for me to meet them, I suppose. His mom wanted me to come now, even though he’s in Cyprus. And he was like, “No way am I sending her into that lion’s den.” But when he comes to fulfill the rules of his UAE visa in April, it’ll possibly happen. It’s far enough off that I’m not totally scared yet, but holy shit will I be scared as it gets closer. (I told him that I’m going to wear a bikini and pretend to be blind when I meet her. He didn’t find the joke as hilarious as I did.)

He’s already met my mother, on Skype. And when I told my mom that he existed this summer, she only asked how old he was and what he did. (Four years younger and nothing…) But she didn’t really seem too concerned with the answers, problematic though they are. Then again, my mother is notoriously detached from expressing any strong emotions about my choices in life. My life is fully mine to live.

His life is far too tied up in his family, if you ask me. Today we were talking about our theoretical wedding and he said if it’s here in Abu Dhabi, there’s going to be like 700 guests from his side. There is no way I’m being judged by 700 strangers! His immediate family is more than enough for me, kthxbi.

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Relativity

IMG_1452I’ve been back in Abu Dhabi for a week now. Tanzania was beautiful. But it was also extremely hot, being summer and all that. I went from the snows of Istanbul to the extreme heat of Zanzibar. People also got sick. From the new germs, perhaps. Or from the heat and dehydration. I was only there for three night, but by the last day it was a struggle to get up and do anything. I was tired and it was hard to sleep in the heat and I probably didn’t drink enough water.

We stayed at a beach resort, which was of course beautiful for the pictures and relatively affordable once you made it there. But it also meant driving past all this poverty to stay in a manicured oasis. And one night we were talking to one of the waiters about weed prices and he was talking about how expensive it is. But when he quoted us the price, it seemed absurdly cheap to us. Because everything is relative.

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The Terminal

I am currently sitting at the airport in Qatar. I’ve been here for six hours or so. I was also here for six hours two days ago. Next I’ll have a seven hour layover in Egypt. It is a very boring time. I have to keep reminding myself that I am lucky to be on my way to a friend’s exotic wedding, and ignore my discomfort and weariness.

Here are some pictures from the amazing Turkey times, in case you’re stuck in a terminal somewhere too…

From Galata Tower

From Galata Tower

Blue Mosque on the Prophet's birthday (pbuh)

Blue Mosque on the Prophet’s birthday (pbuh)

At one point there were riots. This graffiti seemed relevant. (There was tear gas. It lingers and stung my nose.)

At one point there were riots. This graffiti seemed relevant. (There was tear gas. It lingered and stung my nose.)

It snowed! And I was very cold.

It snowed! And I was very cold.

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Year in Review

This is a scheduled post, as I am probably off drinking with my love. 2015 has been tumultuous because of him leaving Abu Dhabi. We watched Love Actually the other day and that part where the kid talks about the “total agony of love,” yeah, we felt that a lot. Because it is horrible to love someone and for life to insert itself and demand that you not be together all the time or have it totally easy.

Which isn’t to say that it was all agony, of course, not even close. The love itself was amazing. I started off the year wrapped up in him, newly in love, fully committed, fantastic. Our biggest problem was his lack of job, but even that didn’t really matter because I am perfectly capable of supporting my own life. Or perhaps our biggest problem was his Palestinian culture, which made us have very different ideas of what our future might look like. Yet also very similar ideas too. But those first few months of 2015 were just a blur of him and me, having amazing times.

In April, I went to Spain with two friends. Leaving my boyfriend at the airport was surprisingly heart-wrenching. But I had an amazing time in Spain, especially Madrid.

spain

I also finally paid off my credit card debt in April, which meant I cared even less about the fact that my boyfriend was jobless, haha.

In May, there was a brunch on this amazing island that was one of the most fun days out with all my friend. In June, I planned my own birthday celebration, which was a new thing for me, who hates the idea of my birthday. But it turned out to be a really fun night, and I was happy I had done it.

I ended the school year experiencing a bit of Ramadan, which mostly sucked because it affected what my boyfriend could and could not do. But soon enough, I was off to America for my yearly pilgrimage to the homeland. I started in my hometown, then went to New York, and then to Colorado. Contrary to the awkwardness of me in the picture below, Colorado was probably the most enjoyable part of this summer in America.

colorado

In August I returned to Abu Dhabi and returned to work, this time with a new position teaching IB and in a brand new, enormous building that the school built. Which meant I had my own classroom, for the first time in four years. Which has been absolutely amazing.

In September, I found out my boyfriend was moving to Northern Cyprus. I literally did not know how to respond when he told me in that restaurant. I didn’t know what he wanted. What it meant for us. What our future could possibly look like. I also didn’t know when he was leaving, and neither did he. His leave date kept getting pushed further back, and each time I thought he was leaving, it hurt as if he truly had left.

At the end of October, two friends from the States visited us here in Abu Dhabi. My boyfriend still hadn’t left yet, so they got to meet him too, which was nice. But then in the beginning of November, he left. It was stunningly difficult being apart from him. There was also drama with my best friend and her fiance, which cut me to the core. And I struggled to be nice to my roommate. And nothing seemed easy, not even buying a car. Everything was a trial.

Until now, when I’ve been able to spend these blissful days with him in Istanbul. And everything is easy when I’m with him. And I hope that 2016 allows us to be together more!

istanbul

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas in Bethlehem

Christmas in Bethlehem

I’m in Istanbul with my love. And it has been absolutely amazing. He’s at mosque right now, so I have a moment to write this. Before writing this, I posted the image to the right to my facebook. And then I posted something on my Instagram about the Prophet’s birthday (pbuh.) Which was yesterday, in case you were wondering. And now everybody probably thinks I’ve converted to Islam and am moving to Palestine.

Yesterday at the Grand Bazaar, my boyfriend told this Syrian salesman that we were married and that I was Palestinian now. At another point in the trip, we were looking up how impossible it would be for him to come to the wedding in Tanzania I’m going to after Istanbul. Spoiler alert, very impossible. The visa process for him takes roughly two months and even then, visas are whimsically rejected all the time.

Muslims celebrate Christmas too, in case you were wondering. The hotel we’re staying in finally just brought us two extra pillows that we’ve been asking about for days. So obviously they’re in the giving mood today. The man who brought them greeted me with “Marhaba.” Then got confused by my obvious non-Arabness and switched to English. (I’m assuming my boyfriend requested the pillows on his way out and thus the Arab assumption, haha.)

At the Grand Bazaar, someone asked if I was German and I ignored his silliness. Someone else suggested I look French, and I accepted that one because my students also seem to think that. But perhaps it is because none of them know what Latvian or Polish people look like. (I look exactly like both of my ethnic backgrounds. I met a Latvian girl once and it was like looking in a mirror. And I also somehow look exactly like my mother, who is the Polish half of my genes.) I suppose in terms of the traveling population, there are far more Germans and French people. Nobody guessed I was American though, and I’m sure they make up a good part of the traveling population. Perhaps because I’m with a man who looks Turkish. (Everyone talks to him in Turkish. And it’s hilarious. Because he can respond with basic stuff, but then he literally just makes up sounds. It’s fantastic to watch. Especially when they somehow figure out what he means.)

This entry is all over the place. But the point of the entry is merry Christmas! Yay!

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