Do you like it?

It’s summer where we live, which means it’s time to come back to the place we don’t live where it’s winter.

It’s been nearly five years since we left which is time enough for things to have changed so substantially that no one is living the life they were living when we left even if jobs, relationships and modes of transport remain unchanged.

The lads and I have spent the last two weeks settling in and catching up with people. By settling in, I mean going to Haigh’s and the market and delighting in being cold. By catching up with people I mean sending emails and texts and hoping that they will ring and ask us to come over. It’s a lovely, brilliant, glorious way to spend some time because who doesn’t love to be loved?

From time to time, across the dinner table or in people’s loungerooms we come across people we have never met before or have not seen us for some time but who have known us it seems forever. A friend’s cousin, a cousin’s oldest friend, you know the kind of thing. In the first case – people we have never met before – they say, ‘Abu Dhabi? Do you like it?’ In the case of the second – people we have not seen for some time – they say, ‘Are you still there? But I thought that you hated it.’

If you’re a person like me, the type of person who over-thinks things, this makes you think which sets you down the path of over-thinking. Of the people who say, ‘Are you still there? But I thought you hated it,’ one of the things you think is, ‘They must really think I’m stupid,’ because you remember the last conversation that you had and you probably were fairly certain that you’d be taking control of your life at any minute now and moving on and why wouldn’t you because really, who wants to be that miserable. Of course it is unlikely that they have even thought of you at all since the last time that they saw you and while they might possibly have a quick chat about you in the car on the way home even that conversation will last only as long as it takes for someone to say, ‘Oh, I love this song’ and turn up the volume on the radio.

Of the people who say, ‘Abu Dhabi? Do you like it?’…you know, this one has really stopped me in my tracks this time. I think I have been asked it on every other visit home, but somehow or other something about being asked this question has changed. I would still be hard-pressed to think of a place to which I am less suited. I think I’ve mentioned the heat, the cars for example? So, in that sense, no, I don’t like it.

But it’s where I live. It’s where my children go to school, where they have made their school friends, where I have made friends, where I work, where I have managed to re-establish something of a career.

It’s odd isn’t it, because if we hadn’t moved, no one would be asking me of my life, ‘Do you like it?’

Do you like it? In my own over-thinking way, when I ask myself the question later on, I suppose I am asking myself, ‘Are you happy?’ as much as I am asking, ‘Do you like it?’

I think I need to think on it some more.

4 thoughts on “Do you like it?”

  1. Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans as John Lennon said. But obviously you are making the best of the situation and getting your career back on track is great. Maybe this was the impetus you needed to get going again? Perhaps some time and distance from Abu Dhabi in the future will help too. Like me and child rearing – it was fun at times when they were babies but I really wouldn’t go back now. Glad I did it though. 🙂

  2. Yes.
    I live in Canberra. This is not the place for me, but it is where I live, where my child goes to school… and often-times I do like it.
    But it is not my choice. And it sends me down rabbit holes to think about.
    I’m not miserable. At least, most days, I don’t think I am.
    But this is not my home.

  3. I’m a bit shocked that it’s almost five years… Is it just indefinite now? Or is there a plan for high school? I lived with that feeling of splitness for about two decades in relation to here and London and its very draining, at a certain point I gave up the feeling of indecision though not the larger feelings of ambivalence. Makes me much happier.

  4. I think you’re right: if you’d stayed put, no one would be asking if you liked “it,” because it would just be your life. As now, in fact, AD is your life, for the nonce, any way. But sometimes I think people ask that question in part b/c they want to hear that life outside the norm (whatever that is) is hard, bad, unsatisfying, sad, and so forth–because then they don’t have to confront their own sense of “if only…” Which is to say that it’s entirely possible that embedded in these questions is the sense that through the seemingly simple move to AD (which of course wasn’t simple at all & it’s a complicated place to live, god knows) you’ve somehow done something remarkable. Enviable, even, which is to say you’ve gotten up & shaken the hometown dust off your shoes for a little while.

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