Tomorrow marks week two of our repatriation. Since we had just made a 6 week visit over the summer and are still not settled in what will be our permanent housing, it feels a lot like summer vacation. Even though we’ve bought a car, are about to buy another, have been house hunting and started the kids in school, somehow it still feels temporary and I often find myself instinctively dreading the flight “back home” until I remember we bought a one way ticket to IAH.
Ever since we’ve come back, I can’t stop myself from making comparisons between Houston and Dubai. Surely this must be tiring for friends and family. I feel like an unjust parent constantly comparing the strengths and weaknesses of my children, making other people cringe.
Sometimes I miss Dubai, like when I went school supply shopping. I didn’t have to buy supplies in Dubai. I breezed into school the first day with only lunch and uniforms to worry about. How spoiled! I should have remembered my sister’s tales of time-consuming shopping experiences; instead, I waited until 9 pm the night before the kids started school. I thought, “It’ll just be a quick run to the store to grab some construction paper. I’ll be back in an hour.” It wasn’t until I was standing in the greatly disheveled school supply aisle that had been moved to a small corner to make room for mountains of Halloween gear that I took out the list only to find things like this:
Zaner-Bloser Grade 3 Spiral Composition Book w/ Whale Cover
Mead/Hytone Grade 1-2-3 Handwriting Tablet 1/2″ Ruled, 1/4″ Dotted Midline, Red Base Line, 40 ct 11×8.5 Horizontal
WHAT THE…?! What happened to just picking up some crayons and a box of Kleenex to contribute to the classroom stash?
I didn’t get to bed until 1 am that night after trying to complete my grade 1 and 2 scavenger hunt at three different stores. I didn’t even get to go home with the satisfaction that I had crossed everything off the list. I admit I got mildly sidetracked by the Halloween items. When I wasn’t living here, the Dubai holiday goodies seemed disappointing because they were always more expensive and in shorter supply. Not to mention the price of pumpkins…. that was enough to make anyone weep.
Behold the $45 USD pumpkin in Dubai. I now pay $4.
But now that I’m back to living in Houston, the explosion of Halloween items makes my head swim in the sheer volume of unnecessary gluttony. I was in pursuit of some Fiskars 5″ blunt-tipped scissors when I happened to come across this never-ending aisle of candy. I stood and stared in disbelief for a bit. “Monstrously big” is right!
Imagine my surprise when I went to the very next aisle and saw this!
Then this, this and this!
This is only the candy. Imagine the costumes, the decorations, the party supplies. Ugh. This is too much. It made me miss the few little Halloween items in Dubai and simplicity of my old grocery store.
But then I drove to school the next morning and couldn’t be happier to be back in Houston. At the moment I’m driving from the suburbs to downtown, a drive that would make most people squirm with dread, but I was loving every minute. I never used my horn. Everyone stayed in their lane. I wasn’t clutching my wheel with white-knuckled tension. I didn’t blurt out any curse words. I parked across the street from the school instead of blocks away. A cross-guard smiled and stopped traffic to let me and my children cross the street. I didn’t melt into a puddle of sweat while doing so. Sand didn’t blow in my face. I didn’t have to dash across the street with heart-pounding adrenaline hoping me and my children could outrun the speeding, red-light-running cars. In the hallways there were lots of moms like me struggling with younger siblings. (At the Dubai school, this was rare because so many people left their babies at home with their nanny.) I left the campus immediately instead of inching away through bumper-to-bumper traffic. I didn’t drive home annoyed and lost in contemplation about the sense of entitlement people must have to think their time is more important than mine, not to mention the safety of children, when they cut in line, block intersections, tailgate and speed on campus.
Deep breath… it feels good to be home.
For an entertaining, well-written (and oh-so-true!) take on driving on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, the road I took to and from school every day, read this post: The Little Things I Miss about Dubai, part 1 on Love Language Love Literature and thanks to Joan Frankham for re-blogging it so that I could discover it.