Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Pendulum Swings Back Towards Center

When we moved to Abu Dhabi, I carried a lot of stuff with me. Yes, we put just about everything we owned in storage or in the dustbin. The stuff I'm referring to, the stuff I brought here, was emotional rather than tangible.

I carried my mother's death, my father's death, and my uncle's death to Abu Dhabi. Of course those events happen to everyone - I only mean to say that they influenced me to be less carefree. I also brought years of putting myself second to my family. I do not regret that - but I knew it had taken its toll on me.

I look back at who I was when I came to Abu Dhabi: I remember myself as a bundle of resignation, guardedness and fatigue. It was M's idea to come here; I merely cooperated. I read everything I could about living in the UAE and about Arab cultural awareness. I was neutral on the plan: life had taught me to expect disappointment, because being surprised by it was very hard to swallow.

As I look ahead to moving back to New Hampshire (United States) this summer, I know I am more whole now. I am stronger and softer at the same time. Abu Dhabi is an expensive place to live but some things here are quite affordable: having a maid, riding lessons, and sunshine. Friendship, too, has been easy.

To be fair, I had begun to emerge from the tidal wave of early motherhood before our 2006 move to Abu Dhabi. In 2004, I'd started a novel, I'd started to exercise, and I'd started doing things with my children rather than only for them.

But it was here in Abu Dhabi that I could catch my breath, rest a bit, and dive in to interests that were purely mine. Riding clears my head. The English-language conversation class is rewarding. Making friends with Muslims and Arabs confirms my hope that we are all the same, worried about our loved ones and the future. Writing I just have to do.

Living here has helped me get back to me, which in turn helped me get back to my family. (If you're still reading, you deserve a medal. I apologize for the record-breaking self-indulgence of this post.)

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Frances,
I enjoy reading your posts and how they have evolved with your stay, like a flower blooming. Your prose reminds me of Ann Morrow Lindbergh's book "Gift from the Sea".
PS: Dont apologize for any self indulgence, that is a writer's job.

American Muslima Writer said...

Hello, I've been reading your blog now for a while and I realy like it. And it is YOUR blog so self-indulgence is what makes it more interesting.
SO if you liek it here and you like how you feel about yourself now then why are you moving back this summer? WHy not stay here longer? It is nice to be free to do what you want instead of the 9-5 routine of USA. I find it so refreshing to live in the Middle East.

Ilka said...

Hi,
I just found your blog a few days ago and I really enjoy reading it. Your posts are so pleasant to read and I love all the different pics.
I am American but live in Egypt and hope to move to the UAE soon. I get homesick ALL the time and even miss Dubai although I visited only once and for a very short time. I really felt like I fit in there and I felt free and safe. Dubai reminds me of where I am from....California. I am sorry that you will be leaving this summer as I would like to read more about your life there but am happy for you as you seem to love New Hampshire.

Frances Gunnison said...

thank you anonymous for your comment. like a flower blooming is exactly how i feel.
to all, i broke my arm riding today(!) and am replying w/ my left hand. that should show how happy i was to hear from you!
amer muslima, i know your blog & i love it. we're leaving this summer bec my husband's position requires it.
ilka, i do hope you come to the uae. feeling free and safe are perhaps the best aspects of living here.
more soon & thanks for writing - must elevate my arm!

Land-Frau said...

Frances, get well soon!..from ex-rider Gisela-Landfrau

Anonymous said...

I lost my father as well, so I can sympathize -- time passes but it never really goes away.

Sorry to hear about your arm -- any sport that involves a large animal is dicey (bullfighting, bear hunting etc.).

Regards,

E. Willis Tohn

Frances Gunnison said...

i've decided that despite this setback, i will definitely continue riding. the only thing good i can take from losing loved ones - aside from a possible strengthening of faith - is that i realize more that life is fleeting so we ought to try to live as fully as possible. have you ever tried bullfighting?

elle said...

Frances I'm glad you found yourself in Abu Dhabi. It's had the opposite effect on me, however I realize that there are people worse off than me. So I pucker up and carry on.