Monday, February 10, 2014

The Expat Life - Day One

Abu Dhabi sunrise, desert angle.

This whole "moving to another country" thing is pret-ty crazy.

After the chaos of the past couple of weeks, the cats and The Gentleman and I all got on our respective flights and headed out across the Atlantic. And across Europe. And a good chunk of the Middle East too, because "home" now is right smack in the middle of the Middle East. 

Alas, we could not all get on the same flights. I flew Lufthansa through Frankfurt, The Gentleman British Air through Heathrow, and the cats flew KLM through Amsterdam. They had a 10 hour layover during which I sincerely hope they went to see the Van Gogh museum and Anne Frank house and didn't just hang around in "coffee shops." 

The Gentleman and I got to Abu Dhabi around the same time and, Gentleman that he is, he'd already picked up all of my (excessive) luggage and loaded it onto a handy cart. And then we headed home for our usual post-travel ritual of late-night sushi delivery, duty free wine, and Hulu.

Home. What a strange concept right now. Let's talk about that in a couple of weeks. Right now, I keep having weird flashbacks that I didn't mail my rent check or that I need to stop by Target to pick up paper towels. I was a bit disappointed at the movie selection on Lufthansa and briefly wondered if they would have better picks on the return flight and then realized - dizzingly - that for the first time, there is no return flight. That was a one-way. Return to Baltimore TBD. 

Jet lag hit me particularly hard this time - I blame the lack of movies on Lufthansa and the ridiculously comfy business class recliner seats because I slept way too much on my flights - and I woke up at 4am. I sat on the couch amidst the sparse flat (my shipment won't arrive until sometime in March, and we are so devoid of furniture and household goods that I ate my oatmeal with a plastic fork this morning) and had the first moment of true realization. Everything has been such a frantic tornado of errands and chores and last goodbyes and this was - quite honestly - the first moment of quiet reflection I've had in possibly over a month. 

I realized the daunting overwhelm of moving to a new country and felt dizzy. The weather forecast popped up on my phone - snow. Definitely the forecast for Baltimore, because Abu Dhabi is ranging delightfully in the 65-75 degree range currently. I deleted the alert for Baltimore. I suspect there will be many more moments of disentangling the details of my life in Charm City, but also moments of excitement as I begin new threads here.

I managed to go back to sleep for a couple of hours, and then followed my travel-savvy friend Jessica's advice to work out in the morning and drink copious amounts of coffee. In the gym, I met a guy (Australian, I want to say) who told me that he and his wife are starting a runner's group in the complex with a lot of interest so far. The Gentleman and I went to lunch together and then went to Etisalat (the Verizon of sorts) and set up my mobile. He dropped me off at one of the malls so I could go to the pet store and pick up food for the cats, and then I was on my own because I don't yet have a car or even a local driver's license.

Taxis in the UAE are plentiful and cheap and commonly used for routine transportation. I had no trouble getting a cab home from the mall, and then no trouble getting a second cab to the nearby (but not really walkable) grocery store.

Grocery shopping was an interesting experience - there are overwhelmingly British and Asian influences here so while you have 400 different types of biscuits to choose from and amazing spices and cooking sauces, your salsa is limited to Pace Picante. (Is that the stuff made in New York City? I can't remember.) It took me over an hour to get everything on my list, and I ended up leaving without scallions because I couldn't find them and got flustered and googled "substitute scallion" to no avail and ultimately gave up. Shopping in new grocery stores is exhausting because when you don't know how items are laid out, you wind up circling up and down the aisles looking for a single item on your list and walking right by fourteen other things that you need. Circle back, rinse, repeat.

Soooo much quinoa. WHY DO WE DO THIS??
Once home, I attacked the kitchen. The movers that The Gentleman used very kindly put things away, but they literally put one or two items in every drawer and cabinet, and The Gentleman does not have very many kitchen items. So one drawer might hold four delivery menus and a spoon and a second drawer might have garbage ties while a third is designated for two plastic forks. Maddening.

On a lovely note, I discovered that The Gentleman, like me, also excessively hoards quinoa. I found four bags of it in the pantry. Two of them opened. Between the two of us, we are going to stock a world's supply and drive up prices for resale. 

Coffee table. For now.
On a lovelier note, I'm about to go and make some dinner for us. Which we'll eat off of paper plates with plastic forks and a packing box as our coffee table, but that's fine. Because we're together, and we're here in our new home, and this is truly the first day of the rest of our lives.


Nikki Milbrath said...

so glad you're home safe and sound. i love you!

kat said...

the cutest. can't wait for the wild ride;) enjoy! i miss it. I keep thinking at any moment i might up and leave elisa and make her chase me to a foreign country this time;)