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Tag Archives | seasons

Halloween, or, sometimes nostalgia looks like Boba Fett

It starts in September, when I get the late August issues of The New Yorker.  I’m always a few weeks behind because I like to read the actual magazine, not the digital one. Usually I don’t mind reading about current events from a month or so ago…until September.

In early fall, the magazine becomes a sort of arcade of impossibility: the new theater productions I won’t see; the restaurants I won’t eat at; the movies that (maybe) I’ll get to when they come out on DVD…the list seems endless.  Husband reminds me that when we actually lived in Manhattan we didn’t get out much, unless you want to count standing by the sidelines of a soccer game in the cold as “getting out.” He’s right, but somehow, when we lived in New York, all those things listed in the magazine seemed at least theoretically possible. Now, given that I live in a city where there is one theater (reserved mostly for state celebrations or the occasional children’s musical), only one museum, and where all the restaurants have too many forks for comfort–now, none of it is possible.

Following hard on the heels of the culture-vulture issues of The New Yorker come the facebook posts of friends’ kids off to school in sweaters and new shoes, and then there are the photos of leaves turning, until I can almost smell the seasonal crisp in the air and I long for the crunch of just-picked apples on sale at the Union Square Greenmarket. True, I could just turn off facebook but then there’s that whole I-might-wither-up-and-die thing.  Turn off Facebook? I shudder to think.

It’s not really that I miss seasons–because lord knows I do not miss February–it’s just that I miss fall. I miss that gathering up of breath and energy after the sprawl of summer; I miss the beauty of those last warm days in October, when the warmth feels like a gift because you know what’s coming.

And aside from that maudlin stuff, you know what else I miss? Boots. I loves me some boots and although some women wear boots in the winter months here, I just cannot bring myself to put on a pair of motorcycle boots when it’s 90F outside.

There’s a double nostalgia whammy in October and November–Halloween and Thanksgiving, neither of which, as you might imagine, are very big in the UAE.  I’ve never been one of those people who does the full Halloween costume and decorations thing, but I like the occasional witches hat and pumpkin carving and I have a serious candy corn addiction, which is really hard to feed here (I guess that’s not entirely a bad thing, at least according to my dentist. And my hips).  There are isolated tricksy-treatsy spots around town, mostly in the expat neighborhoods where lots of Americans live; and some of the shops have Halloween decorations, but mostly Halloween comes and goes with just a blip.

We bought Caleb’s costume this summer when we were in New York, where the Halloween shops are always open; Liam didn’t want to get a costume because at almost thirteen, he’s decided (sort of) that he’s just too cool for such things.

I guess because I’m missing “home” so much these days, I took a great deal of pleasure in how excited Caleb was about his costume, even though I hate store-bought costumes and am not a big “Star Wars” fan (practically heresy in my household).  He is not Boba Fett, although I kept calling him that. He is dressed as Pre Vizsla, an entirely different Mandalorian fighter. I mean duh, right? Keep it straight.

IMG_7410

There is one way in which Abu Dhabi keeps pace with New York.  The shops here also have seasonal marketing schizophrenia (SMS). SMS renders stores incapable of marketing only one holiday at a time.

IMG_7408trick or hohoho?

Continue Reading · on November 2, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, expat, family, Kids, UAE

Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend has never been a big deal for me. I do a mental “thank you” to the military and then go on with my business. I don’t like parades; I’ve never had a summer house that needs to be “opened” for the season; for most of my adult life I’ve never even had a backyard within which to barbecue, should the mood strike me.

So mostly, Memorial Day weekend has meant hoping that someone would invite me to one of those big fun summer parties you’re supposed to go to (but might exist only in magazines or the most froufrou echelons of The Hamptons), or sniffing around (oh so casually) for an invitation to someone’s summer house, or finding some Fun Family Activity, dammit, to fill that no-school Monday.

A  non-event, really, is what I’m saying.

Which is why you can imagine my surprise when I got all verklempt reading Anna’s blog post about various red,white, and blue recipes.  I mean, the little star-shaped pancakes are pretty cute, but they’re not worth getting all emotional about.

No, it wasn’t the pancakes (sorry Anna), but a sudden pang about missing the rhythms of home.

It’s comforting, knowing what’s coming, knowing how the year will unfold. Out here, where I’ve still not spent an entire year, everything is sort of a surprise – but nothing much seems to change. It’s more or less hot; it’s more or less sandy; it’s more or less windy.  I guess it’s summer here because it’s already so hot: so hot, in fact, that the boys’ school cancelled after-school swimming lessons because of the heat. Too hot for the instructors to be walking around on the pool deck, apparently.

How will the summer unfold here? I don’t know. I know when the boys’ school ends for the year; I know when we’re traveling back to New York; I know when we’re coming back here. But other than those punctuation marks, I’m not sure what the other markers are. Ramadan happens in there somewhere, as dictated by the lunar calendar, and the end of Ramadan is marked by the festival of Eid, which is determined by the first sighting of the crescent moon.  As near as I can tell, between now and early October, most of Abu Dhabi goes into the malls and hides until it’s not so steamy out – the opposite of what happens in the Northeast, where people climb out of their dark apartments, blinking like moles in the sunlight, and recklessly bare their wintery skin to the warmth.

Not knowing the rhythms of a place is one of the (many) unexpected things on my list of “stuff that’s weird about expat life.”  It’s like you’re always just the slightest bit off-kilter because you’re missing signposts and landmarks you didn’t even know mattered.  I mean really, missing Memorial Day? That’s weird.

It’s not the red-white-and-blue I miss, though (and yes, there’s probably a political metaphor in there somewhere, but we’ll leave it safely buried for now).  I miss that sense of belonging, I think: everyone knows it’s Memorial Day; everyone (mostly everyone) gets Monday off or gets to commiserate about not getting Monday off.

Here? Monday is just…Monday. And it’s gonna be hot. That much I know for sure.

I took this picture on my whirlwind trip a few weeks ago. I guess there is a reason they call New Jersey the Garden State. I may not miss the red-white-and-blue, but I miss green a whole hell of a lot.

Here’s something I try never to miss: the yeahwrite linkup. Every week we “small” bloggers (we may be small bloggers but we all have very tall personalities) link together under the curator-ship of the elegant Erica: click, read, come back and vote for your faves.
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

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Continue Reading · on May 26, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, expat, Travel, urban nature

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