Moving Part I

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.

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17 Responses to Moving Part I

  1. Suzie April 16, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    Holy Shit! I’m so excited for you and will miss you terribly. Wow! Congratulations!
    How many frequent flyer miles do I need to come visit?

  2. Stasha April 16, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    I just wrote a post today about my life years ago, in the Gulf. From one Aquarian to another: as odd and scary as it may be, it is a great opportunity. I spend almost a decade there and have no regrets. Kids will have a great time. You will enjoy yourself and I think you will be surprised how eager the students will be. Embrace it, it is only a year. As for Ramadan, it is a month of celebrations and great evening family gatherings.
    Some of my friends still live in AD and Dubai, New york folks like you . Email me if you need anything. Would love to answers any worries you might have.

  3. Deborah Quinn April 16, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    @Stasha: and that is why we LOVE the internet. Am now in the biz of taking all names, all advice, all tips, from everyone! And Suzie, it’s a lotta miles but we will have a GUEST ROOM. And maybe even an extra bathroom that won’t be filled with kiddie bathtub toys.

  4. Kara April 17, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    Wow! That sounds like quite an adventure that can only enrich your lives. And the temperature chart at the top looks VERY appealing – especially since it’s actually snowing here today.

  5. KSB April 17, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Wow! Wow! Wow!

    Okay, can’t say I wasn’t expecting this, but still, WOW!!!!

    Take the long way to AD, and stop by for a visit with me? ;D

  6. Ruth Sternglantz April 17, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Wicked cool. One of my best friends lived, periodically, in various foreign climes as a kid thanks to her academic dad, and thanks to the magic of digitization I recently got to see the photos. Your kids are the right age to leave for a year and come back unscathed, and to absorb everything in the best way. And Deb, you should get a book contract ex ante. 🙂

  7. Poor Princess April 17, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    I second the book contract! It’ll be a great adventure! Hope to see you before you leave!!

  8. joan April 17, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    wow! i’m kind of jealous… when we win the lottery, we’ll definitely come and visit….

  9. ellyn April 17, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    What did you think of the NY Times article today on NYUAD? I thought it seemed pretty negative and not too balanced. I kept wanting to see them interview the Husband to bring out more of the positives. It will be an experience and I give you credit for going. Not sure that I would be quite that brave.

  10. Melissa April 18, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Wow! How exciting! I’m jealous. Especially as we’re moving too….to Boston. Your move sounds infinitely more glamorous…and WARM! Enjoy!!!!

  11. Shireen April 19, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Look forward to visiting y’all there! But I still won’t be shaving! 😀 and the world can just love me and my belly and all! I do! most days, at least!

  12. anna April 26, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    wow, what big news! cant wait to read about a AbuDHabiMaMMA adventures. and the weather. even bigger wow. what an incredible adventure for you and your family!

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