At last I am back in the land of social interaction post Ramadan. Whilst I really enjoyed my month of slowing down, focus on myself and quality time with Hubs, I cannot lie and say that I wasn’t enthused by the idea of recaffienating my life with flat whites and conversation. As it felt like the entire country was simultaneously exhaling, coffee shops refilled and the desert girls reconvened
I was very happy to see them again, as many I had literally not set eyes on for a month. The warm hugs, enthusiastic hellos and a joint squeal of excitement to be handed a menu for our reunion marina brunch, set the morning up perfectly. It was so lovely to be back in the presence of these ladies, granted there were some of the usual brunchers missing, as the expat exodus has already begun, but those of us that remain in the land of sand, were more than making up for the absentees.
After a very quick debrief of what everyone had been up to during Ramadan, Eid break updates and general life news, we settled into conversations, which in true desert girl style, became fairly deep, fairly quick. What I love about these women, is that whilst we may seem frivolous devouring croissants, they all have strong ideas and intellect and are far from frothy like our cappuccino may suggest.
I entered into a conversation about how I still struggle to connect with some people back home, how distance, my lack of conformity and just general life gets in the way of being able to keep relationships going at the same pace. I admitted that I had spoken with my cousin the previous day and that we both were shocked that it had been six months since our previous communication. Now as we are as close as sisters this was not something either of us was proud of and I have to say had not noticed it had been that long. Was that bad of me to not realise? To be fair she hadn’t either but it made me ponder the situation with the girls and whether we are just too cut off from it all?
What followed was a very interesting conversation, one that turned out to be one of the most empowering, uplifting, beautiful ones I’ve had over the last four years. Whilst there was knowing nods of support from my ladies, all of them drawing on similar experiences, that constant pull back and forth, keeping up with the “old life”, maintaining connections, they all echoed that it’s just not always possible. It’s a two-way street and so often the discussions about this issue come back to the point, that we as expats feel tremendous pressure to remain the same to all people.
Why is it always down to me? Why is it me that has to drive, fly or train it around the country to see people? Why do I end up running around, calling or sending messages?
The misconception is that, because we chose to move away the sole responsibility falls to us. Of course many of us get thrown the line, well you do nothing, so you have the time to drive around the UK visiting, but I have to work!…. Really??? I keep making FaceTime dates with people and they just don’t show up or forget. Their response was
Well us mums are busy and forgetful when we are focussed on the kids.
My blood boiled. So because I don’t have kids, I obviously can’t fathom this scenario. I obviously don’t have a life, so it’s totally ok that I’ve moved my day around to just sit there waiting like a fool? NOT OK and a sentiment felt by those around the brunch table. Why is there no attempt to understand our life and who we are? Now questioning, did we do the right thing moving away?
One of the group perks up and said that she moved to Kuwait for the opportunity of a new life experience but predominately for the financial gain. We all nodded in agreement, because lets face it Kuwait is not top of the expat list, so are all here for same thing. She always felt like they were one step behind in the UK, always trying to reach a standard of life that was prevalent in her english village. The nice house, in the right postcode, the right school for the kids, the 4×4 to pick them up in and the insta perfect holidays to the in place. We all got it, we all related, we all pictured our own version of that story.
Then came the glory moment. She sat there and said, do you know what I couldn’t want anything less right now. I literally shouted out in the middle of the restaurant. Yes, exactly that’s how I feel. The table became so animated, as we all seemed to realise that we had all reached this point, that point where the original dream, goal or what we thought was the picture perfect life, was so far away from our desert existence but so far away from anything we now wanted. We had evolved.
Without question not one of those women around that table or indeed others I have seen in the days that followed are the same women I knew 4 years ago. They have allowed this life to be just that, a life. There is not one that is existing, they are experiencing and letting that experience evolve them, re establishing their wants, needs and desires. There is not one that is allowing this life to limit them or their families and they are all reaping the rewards. I love these strong, independent women, with open minds and open hearts, these connections matter. At that moment I thought wow, this life maybe ditching convention, I may lose people along the way but the perspective it gives you hard to describe. Even the most steadfast of my girls, the ones that felt like there was a definitive plan to return back home, to pick up where they left off, are now questioning everything.
One said, I am not the same person. Yes I could get up on the morning, take the kids to school, catch the train, get back into that everyday but I’m not the same. I wouldn’t be viewing it the same way, I wouldn’t react the same way and that makes me think maybe you shouldn’t go back, but instead plunge forward into the unknown. I walked away no longer worrying about missed connections but instead saw all the possibilities ahead and that is exciting, beautiful and glorious.