Monday, June 13, 2011

Heartbreak City

Dear Doha,

I think we need to see other people.  It's not you.  It's me.  Well, maybe it's a little bit you.  OK, actually it's all you.

We've been together now for almost a year, and I do feel as though our relationship has really evolved.  I'm much more comfortable with you and all your crazy moments.  But there was so much excitement at the beginning:  you took me to different places and introduced me to all your friends.  Even learning about your culture was fascinating to me.  Now, not so much.

It's been great hanging out with you - you're such an important guy in your family of Qatar - but I need to get back to a country that really knows me.  A country that's known me my whole life, and gets my jokes.  A country that doesn't criticize what I eat, or what I wear.  A country that has actual weather.  A country that's not seventeen shades of beige.

Sure, it's been fun sometimes.  You brought me to concerts, fancy restaurants, and long walks along the waterfront.  You bought me clothes and knock-off designer handbags.  You even took me out to the desert and drove like crazy through the dunes, and we rode camels together.

But you kind of have a mean streak, especially when you're driving.  Every time I get behind the wheel with you, I feel like I'm taking my life in my hands.  And, as generous as you are, you're not alway the best provider; when I say I want Cheerios that taste like real Cheerios, why do you make me pay $13 a box?

When I first met you, a friend of yours told me that if I started a relationship with you I would be given two buckets.  One would be for money, the other for BS; when one or the other was full, it would be time for me to go.  One of mine almost needs to be emptied.  If you have to ask which one, then maybe you never really knew me at all.

So, I'm going to go home for awhile.  I'm going to wear sleeveless dresses, drink wine in public, and eat bacon for breakfast every day.  But I'll be back in a couple of months, and I hope you'll wait for me.  Me, and the rest of your expat wives...I can't get through this alone.

With affection,
Desert Mama

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Congratulations! You've Just Won a Brand New House!

When Dan moved here last June, ahead of us by a couple of months, he moved directly into our company-provided villa, and then spent about a month getting it ready for our arrival.  We've called it home ever since.  Secretly, I occasionally have other names for it, but I try to keep those to myself.

When we lived in Calgary, we used to say things like:  "We're a one-vehicle family.  We choose to live inner-city.  And yes, our house may be smaller than our friends' in the suburbs, but we're willing to make that sacrifice so our kids can walk to school, and Dan can take a short public transit trip to work.  We don't want to spend our lives in the car."  You should've heard us.  We were adorable.

Then we sold our house and moved to Doha.  It's amazing what 11,000 kilometres and a couple of weeks will do to help you shrug off your principles and become a two-vehicle, SUV-driving, non-recycling family with an impressive 200 tonne carbon footprint.  The distance to school from our house is roughly equivalent to that between Mercury and the sun, except the drive to school is not quite as pleasant.  My kids now spend so much time on the bus that just yesterday, when Jacob got home, it looked like he needed a shave.

But other than location, our villa is actually quite nice.  If I have one tiny, little complaint about the house itself, it would be the kitchen.  In realtor parlance, the description would go something like: "1980's style, uninspired design, with shallow sink, four drawers for storage and a grand total of three square inches of counter space.  Dishwasher prone to provoke swearing.  Seller motivated!"  I'm sometimes seen balancing a baking sheet on one knee while scooping from a bowl of cookie dough precariously perched on the top corner of the microwave.  Those yoga classes are starting to pay off.

And then, a few weeks ago, Bob Barker knocked on my door and offered me a brand new house.  Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Archaic references to The Price is Right aside (seriously, when was the last time I watched a game show?), the company Housing Committee sent out a note that sounded like a potential windfall.  They were looking for volunteers to move into a new compound this summer.  Given the choice, I'd rather ram a hot poker into my eye while gargling Tabasco than move, but with the location of our current house, we thought we should at least check it out.

Friends of ours, who just recently moved into the new place, pointed out that the drive to school for them was seven minutes.  Right now it takes me about seven minutes just to work up the motivation to get in the car.  By the time we went for a tour of the show home, I was sold.  I threw myself onto the six-foot granite-topped breakfast nook, weeping.  Mr. Housing Committee Chair, you had me at the kitchen.

Last Saturday, the Housing Committee held a lottery for choosing villas in the new compound.  We were among the twenty-odd families to draw our new addresses out of a hat.  Barring any moving company delays, which is a distinct possibility in this town, we should move into our new house sometime this summer.  Or, I should say Dan will be moving us into our new house while the kids and I are in Canada.  It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.