Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Places I’ll Remember . . .

I’m not very good at being sad. Today is one of the saddest days of my life. I’ve been weeping all day, and I’m not one of those women whom the camera loves when they weep. My throat gets thick, so clogged with emotion that I can’t talk clearly, and my eyes get all red and swollen. My cheeks get all blotchy. I hate it, my eyes are leaking, and my nose is running. I think I’ve got it all stopped, and it all starts up again.

Most of the house is packed, the kitchen cupboards cleared out and all the goods not going with us distributed. I weep as I pack my bags. I weep as I take out the garbage. I weep as I load one last load of wash into the washer.

“What is it in particular?” AdventureMan asks me, as I weep, yet again, as I start to write this entry.

“It’s the end of an era,” I choke out, and the tears start rolling once again in spite of all my efforts not to succumb.

“We’ve lived our lives as nomads ever since we met,” I continue.

“It isn’t like we want to live in Doha forever, Doha is changing, too, old friends are leaving.”

“It isn’t like I love packing up and starting over in a new place.”

“I shouldn’t have scheduled to leave on a Friday after church,” I philosophized, but it’s too late now. The waterworks started in church and have turned on and off with ever fresh goodbye.

I steeled myself to smile cheerily at my oldest friends, knowing we’ll meet up again – a wedding, a retirement, a gathering of old hands. But small things defeated me. The friends who switched their normal place in church and sat beside us. The communion hymn “Lord of the Dance” sung as a duet. One of our friends provided our very very favorite meal for lunch. The priest blessing my travels and sending me on with the prayers of the people. The difficult ceremony of saying goodbye to the people we love in a place which has nurtured us, spiritually and socially.

And one young woman painted a watercolor for us of our new grandson.

It is a stunning watercolor, I can hardly wait to have it framed. There is something very special in it – I have a friend who knits, but is constantly telling us how badly she knits. She knit a blanket for the grandson, and it was COLD in Pensacola, and that blanket was used over and over again. The blanket is in the lower left corner of the watercolor. 🙂

It’s going to be a long trip to our new life. We are going to a happy place – sunshine, but not so much heat. Humidity and lightning, but also four seasons and seafood. Our son, his wife, our grandson. All these are happy things. Our new house, a new life, closer to our families. All good things.

I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to my Palestinian friend, like my sister, and she shared all her children with me through these years of friendship. Saying goodbye to her was horrible. We know we may never see one another again. Her daughters assure me they will help us correspond; they will help her use modern technology to stay in touch. 🙂 I don’t know when I will ever see her again . . . and it breaks my heart. I guess I kind of thought she would come visit me. “No,” she said sadly, “no, I will never have the right papers to visit you.” Until that moment, I hadn’t realized how devastating are the restrictions on her life. And I’m just a friend. She hasn’t seen her own father, in Palestine, for years. Sometimes they can meet up in Egypt. . .

I’m not the first expat to leave here. One good friend left Doha last summer, she led the way. We all know that leaving the nomadic life is charting new territory. We’ve had a lot of fun, we’ve loved (most of) the expat experience. We know it’s time. It’s just the inner twenty-five year old is not ready.

AdventureMan’s company keeps saying “when you’ve had a break . . . ” and AdventureMan laughs and says “I’m not taking a break, I am RETIRING!” His company is savvy; they know that three months down the road the domestic life may get a bit old for these high testosterone kind of guys and they will invite him back for a special project or two. He promises me, if it is Doha or Kuwait, I can come with him. Even just a week or two, to see old friends . . . I’ll take it!

Thanks be to God, for creating us, and for giving us this wonderful life we were created to live. Thanks be to God for all these great adventures, for the exotic, the sights and smells and sounds, and for the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Thanks be to God for the generous spirited friends called to his life, who have shared the path with us. And thanks be to God for this outlet, this blog, where I can share the good, the bad and the ugly with friends from all countries who have ever lived as strangers in a strange land (even when that ‘strange’ land is the USA, LOL!) Thank YOU, friends.

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March 19, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Biography, Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Germany, Interconnected, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Marriage, Moving, Qatar, Relationships, Saudi Arabia, Thanksgiving, Values, Work Related Issues | 14 Comments

Babies Love to Dance!

Now here is a study I love! Scientists studied babies movements to music and discovered – babies love rhythm, and love to move to the rhythm! Get those babies dancing!

If they find rhythm and music more engaging, sing to them!

They Got Rhythm, Study of Babies Finds

Lauren Frayer
Contributor
AOL News

(March 16) — Babies innately respond to rhythm more than speech, according to a new study that found dancing comes naturally to infants.

Researchers in Britain and Finland tested the responses of 120 babies ages 5 months to 2 years and found that infants are much more physically responsive to music than to speech and find it more engaging.

In the experiment, which was recorded on video, babies were perched on their mother’s or father’s lap while psychologists played a recording of music. The babies moved their heads, arms, legs and bodies in time to the beat of various different genres of music.

“Our research suggests that it is the beat rather than other features of the music, such as the melody, that produces the response in infants,” one of the study’s authors, psychologist Marcel Zentner of the University of York in England, said in statement.

In order not to influence the baby’s movements, the parent wore headphones to block out the sound of the music and was asked to stay still during the experiment.

The recordings included classical music, rhythmic beats and also speech. They also hired professional ballet dancers to analyze the babies’ movements and determine how well-coordinated they were with the music. All of the babies responded more to the music than to speech.

The findings suggest humans may be born with a predisposition to move rhythmically in response to music.

“It remains to be understood why humans have developed this particular predisposition,” Zentner said. “One possibility is that it was a target of natural selection for music or that it has evolved for some other function that just happens to be relevant for music processing.”

Zentner and Tuomas Eerola of Finland’s University of Jyvasklya also found that the more the babies’ movements were synchronized to the music, the more they smiled.

The study appears in the March 15 issue of the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

March 19, 2010 Posted by | Family Issues, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Relationships, Tools | 2 Comments