We’re six months in.
I remember in the early, foggy, difficult days, people said to us, “Give it 3 months, and things won’t feel quite so upside down.” And they were right. Even though things were still hard at the 3 month point, we all had our visas, we had internet, we had running water, we knew how to get around town, we found the stores where we liked buying groceries and the gas stations where we liked to fill up. It was a little bit familiar and a lot less overwhelming.
I also remember people saying, in the early days, “Give it 6 months, and it you will start to feel more settled.” And they were right. I feel it. It’s a subtle shift, but settled is the right word for it. This week I have two coffee dates with friends, I’m running DI practice at our place, Abby has ballet, the kids have drama, we have a homeschool co-op get together, we’re joining a small group, Dwayne has his third flag football practice and possibly a volleyball tournament on the weekend. Community and activity are both sprouting in our lives.
Also, it’s only 4 weeks until mom & Larry arrive, marking our first visitors, and transitioning us from newbies to tour guides. Now our minds are focused on our favourite things to do and see in the UAE, which has inevitably created in us this wonderful sense of “home” in a place that has so far only been “across the world from home.”
It’s funny because throughout the years, I’ve heard people say, about every town I’ve lived in, “What’s there to do in (insert city name here)?” People often think a city is boring or there’s not enough action for them. Sometimes this question comes from people who live elsewhere, but often it comes from people who live right in that very city. They grow bored or restless and believe it is because something is lacking in the city, instead of in themselves. It happened when I lived in Calgary. In Regina. In Selkirk. In Chilliwack. It happens here in Al Ain. But when you really think about it, it’s not the sites or attractions or stadiums that make a city interesting. It’s not restaurants or clubs or teams either. Cities, much like our own lives, are made interesting when we pursue passions and hobbies and relationships there.
Sure, sometimes old activities have to be swapped for new ones, but that’s our own issue, not an issue with our present location. We loved to go skiing a couple of times a year as a family when we lived in BC. We can’t do that here. But it’s not because Al Ain is lacking. We just have to learn to swap our snowy mountain pursuit with a sandy desert pursuit. So, we’ll go on a desert safari and swim in the Gulf. Whatever. We can find interesting activities. But the only real way to settle into a good life in any city is to find a place to serve, find a few places to have fun, and mostly, to love people and be loved.
That’s what’s happening here at the six month mark. Those are the very things we’re finding. Our blank slates are being filled. It took some time, but it’s looking beautiful. Now we’ll have to wait and see if what they said about the one year mark turns out to be true.