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 »

  1. ooh..! thats too bad…you in such a bad mood…but this too shall pass..and on a lighter side..its really ‘strange’, that you feel ‘strange’ in leaving ‘strange’ shores for your homeland!! :) Finally home is where your heart is i guess..and your sure to find it back when you land there…
    All the very best..as you start yet another journey…

    Comment by onlooker | March 19, 2010 | Reply

  2. n such a lovely and apt song!! memories become so much more dearer..

    Comment by onlooker | March 19, 2010 | Reply

  3. oh my God , Your blog was so sad , I cried and cried .I wish you wonderful time in Florida . You are the best friend I ever had , You are an angel , I love you so much .
    Just remember that you have a house in Kuwait.
    Lots of love, Huggs….

    Comment by A friend from Kuwait | March 20, 2010 | Reply

  4. I’m usually just a silent lurker, but after reading your poignant entry I just had to comment!

    I haven’t known your blog for a very long time, but since I’ve started following it, I have been reading it with such fervor that I find myself visiting at least a handful of times a day, hoping that with each visit I’ll be greeted with a new post!

    Although I can’t claim to have read every single post, especially those pertaining to cooking recipes (sorry!) lol nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of your journey, in which I’ve gained insight into your fascinating world, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting me be a part of that.

    It’s true, the nomadic lifestyle is bound to come to an end sooner or later, but its still sad, and although I’ve never had the fortune of meeting you in person, I will miss reading your perspective on life in Doha.

    I wish you a safe flight home, as well as happiness, prosperity, good health and many more grandchildren in the not so distant future! here’s hoping that this isnt an end of an era, but a start to a wonderful new chapter in your life!

    Warmest Regards,

    Your biggest ‘Qatari’ fan! ;))

    Comment by B. | March 20, 2010 | Reply

  5. intlxpatr :

    I took a class in sociology ( Sociology 101) and from that you can trust me of knowing what i am talking about .

    what you described is a very well known phenomenon . It affects alot of expatriates living in the middle east who are about to go back home .

    The phenomenon was highlighted after the intense media scrutiny following the massive movement of people from the states to the Gulf area , first after Desert storm and later on after Iraq freedom operation .

    To cut a long story short the sociologist in the Gulf area have studied it thoroughly and gave it the acronym FWS for Fattah Withdrawal Syndrome .

    Yep that’s what it is :)

    Have a safe trip home and looking forward to your posts from the states

    Comment by daggero | March 20, 2010 | Reply

  6. Dear virtue friend,
    We’ve never met, but your blog has given me so much comfort, encouragement, thinking, praying, love and laugh. I am sad that I would not be able to visit you in Qatar, but I am happy that you and your husband have made a final decision to retire and enjoy another era in Florida. Maybe you will take your grandchildren to the Disney World one day! Our apartment will be open to you too in Kuwait.
    You will shine like a star anywhere you are. You are a row model to me, an expact to be.
    Love, Panda

    Comment by Polar Panda | March 20, 2010 | Reply

  7. *sigh*

    Comment by grammy | March 20, 2010 | Reply

  8. I’m tearing up too, thinking of you and all those sad goodbyes. “Happy-sad” tears, as Big D would say. I’m sending you a big hug and lots of love, and also looking forward to taking you and the khalo to a great, totally dive-y, Lebanese place in Renton. (What makes it great? Aside from the incredibly potent – and generous – use of garlic, the fact that the sign on the building and the sign by the road are spelled differently :D.)

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | March 20, 2010 | Reply

  9. Right with you, my friend. Look for me later in the year. What’s the nearest airport?

    Comment by momcat | March 20, 2010 | Reply

  10. Thank you, Onlooker. I am now safely in Pensacola, and occupied with family. :-)

    Oh, my sweet Kuwait friend, I believe you will come visit me. :-) I will NEVER forget your flying to Qatar to rescue the Quilt Room. :-) I’m OK, just sad and a little overwhelmed.

    B – I am so happy you finally commented! :-) And what makes you think you never met me? Maybe you did! Doha has grown, but the expat community is still fairly incestuous!

    Daggero! You really had me going! I thought this was going to be a serious entry, LLOOOLL! There IS a sociological phenomenon called Re-Entry, and expats DO suffer returning to their homes. Kuwaiti students returning from university come readily to mind . . . it’s tough re-adjusting to a life that sometimes feels a little small after the expansion of stretching in a foreign location.

    Polar Panda – I will be eager to hear your impressions when you go to Kuwait!

    Grammy – See you soon, insh’allah . . . :-)

    Little Diamond – YOU really DO know, and YES to the Lebanese Dive! (Isn’t that an oxymoron?)

    Oh Momcat, I know you know. :-( PENS has a really nice airport, and people say flying into Pensacola is cheaper than flying into other nearby airports, like Mobile. :-)

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 20, 2010 | Reply

  11. Dear intlxpatr

    Our new home in Abu Dhabi will always be open to you. (We will have 8 bedrooms so should be able to squeeze you in!)You were and are such a blessing to us.

    We too are knowing the sadness of moving on from Q8, but not yet ready to return to our home country.

    Might need to call myself revad now!

    Blessings to you both

    Comment by revq8 | March 20, 2010 | Reply

  12. Yes! You will have to become the RevAD! Doesn’t that sound like a fast, hot new car?? Thank you, Rev, and maybe we will get to see you here, on the white sands of Pensacola? :-)

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 21, 2010 | Reply

  13. It is the end of an era! I will really miss your posts on life in the Middle East. In the past year we came seriously close to accepting a position in Qatar and all I could think was that I could eat at all the fabulous places you blogged about and maybe even meet you in person. It was not meant to be. Best wishes to you in your “new” era as Grandma. As a longtime serial expat myself, I’m not quite sure how I would react to an end of the nomadic life. I’m sure you will handle it as you have all your moves – with grace and wonder at all the new things you will experience.

    Comment by globalgal | March 24, 2010 | Reply

  14. Thank you, GlobalGal, and I truly hope you get to Qatar. It is an amazing place, and a great jumping off place for lots of other travels – like to revisit Kuwait!

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 24, 2010 | Reply


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