We’re moving. Not downtown, not across town, not to another state. No, that would be way too easy.
We’re moving to Abu Dhabi.
That’s the country in the UAE that’s not Dubai (where they arrested a blogger last week for urging government reforms). And although Abu Dhabi is supposedly the setting for SATC2, the movie was actually filmed in Morocco, so if you’re one of the twelve people in the world who saw that Carrie Bradshaw & Co. go to the desert, the desert was Moroccan, not Abu Dhabian.
The move has been brewing for a while now, ever since Husband got involved in the college that NYU has built in AD. His first trip out there was in October 2009, before NYUAD was even open, and he’s been there probably once a month ever since, working with the first class of students who are there now, and helping recruit next year’s group.
We’re planning to be there for a year—Husband and I will be teaching at NYU AD and the boys will spend a year at the sort of school that in Manhattan I can’t even afford to look at, much less send my kids to. Of course, if Sarah Palin wins the 2012 election, we may never come back: a monarchy of oil-rich patriarchs seems preferable than a Tea Bag theocracy.
The boys don’t know.
At first it seemed silly to tell them about the move when so much was up in the air; we wanted to wait and have all the details ironed out. Friends tell me that there’s no way the boys haven’t figured it out, but so far, we’ve been practicing don’t-ask-don’t-tell and it seems to have worked. Now, however, all the details have been ironed out, contracts have been signed, and in fact we’re heading out there next week for the boys’ spring break, so they can visit their new school. It’s time for The Big Conversation. We’ve practiced our “hey guys, big news!” script, and rehearsed our list of all the perks: new culture, warm weather, school sports teams, the beach, blah blah blah…but when you’re 6 and 10, I’m not sure “cultural opportunities” will offset “leave the soccer team.” Will there be rending of garments and gnashing of teeth? Or will it be shrugs and nods, followed by intervals of freaking out over the next few months? I cannot for the life of me predict.
Our plan, at the moment, will be to leave this apartment at the beginning of July, spend some time on vacation, and arrive in Abu Dhabi in early August, when the daily temperature generally hovers at about 110. And that’s not your “dry heat” 110, either, despite all that desert just beyond the city borders. Abu Dhabi is on the Persian Gulf, (which I am instructed to start calling the Arabian Gulf), so the humidity levels in the summer are epic: steam-up-the-screen-of-your-iPhone hot. Oh, and it will be Ramadan, too. That’s the holiday where you don’t eat or put anything in your mouth from sunrise to sundown. Granted, inside, in the privacy of our own infidel apartment, we can gobble snacks, but outside in all that heat? Not even a bottle of water or a stick of gum.
Husband points out that the kids can just sit inside all day and play computer games until sunset, at which point we go out for iftar—the fast-breaking feast—and then hit the malls for the Ramadan sales. Who knew: the entire month of Ramadan, in addition to fasting and contemplating one’s life, is devoted to sales. Seems Mohammed loved a good bargain, in much the same way, apparently, that Christ did, which is why you find such great pre-Christmas bargains in Christian countries.
(Question: would this sentence get me into trouble in the UAE? Would it drive up my readership if I were to get arrested? Hmm…)
On the one hand, moving to a place where the weather screen on the iPhone is nothing but egg yolks of sunshine sounds just fine, thanks, particularly after this endless New York winter (as I write this sentence, it’s 45 degrees and pelting down a sort of rainy hail–in late April). On the other hand, having the beach and swimming pools as a regular part of our lives means bathing suits, and that means…being bathing suit ready, which now I only have to do about four months of the year. I shaved my legs yesterday, in anticipation of our trip to AD and I think I lost about five pounds. I don’t exactly wear a burqua all winter, but tights and wool trousers do render that whole leg-hair issue sort of moot.
This move forces me to confront the fact that as much as I might like to think of myself as an freewheeling Aquarian, I am, in fact, more of a routine-loving Capricorn (I swear all my personality difficulties come from being born on the cusp of two such dissimilar signs). I am not the risk-taker I thought I was–and yet, here I am, about to take my urban, heathen, Manhattanite children to the desert, in the heart of the Muslim world.
I think we’re about to have an adventure.