Monday, January 9, 2012

Letting Go....or Maybe Not

We all have our things we can't let go of when we move to a new place.  When you move 9 time zones away, not letting go can mean living in two worlds.  Our address may be Abu Dhabi, but our family has been living in two time zones for the past 2 1/2 years.

Prior to our family moving to the UAE, my husband worked here for a year and a half.  I made trips to the UAE and he came home to the states for visits, but for the most part he was here and I was there.  During that time, my schedule revolved around the kids, work, and video chats and phone calls with my husband.  Any free time I had on weekend mornings and afternoons was spent in front of a computer talking to him, trying to pretend we weren't thousands of miles apart. Through the work week, early morning phone calls on my way to work, and afternoon instant messages and emails were the highlights of my days.  Yes, we really do still like each other that much after all these years.

The calls and video chats came at a cost though, in the form of lost sleep for one or both of us.  The 9 hour time difference(8 when the US is on Daylight Savings) usually meant one of us would be up till past 1am.  The separation was not only emotionally, but physically draining for both of us.  We both looked forward to the day that our family could all be living in the same country again, either the US or the UAE.

After visiting the UAE twice, I wanted to move here.  That's right, I wanted this.  I still would have been happy anywhere, as long as it meant we would be living together as a family again.

The day my husband called me in November 2010 to tell me we were definitely moving to Abu Dhabi I was ecstatic.  If I could have, I would have walked out of my office, grabbed the kids from school, and jumped on a plane immediately.  Oh, if only it was that easy.  Still in less than 2 months from that phone call, our house was packed up and we were on a plane headed to the UAE.

Looking back, I'm not really sure which part of the move excited me more, moving to a new country or finally being able to live together as a family again.  My husband will tell you my excitement was because I no longer had to work anymore. Ok, maybe that was a small part of it.  For a year and a half I had been juggling work, the house with the pool that always needed something fixed, the kids with multiple sports practices and games, and my favorite.... medical issues.  Yes, my son chose while his dad was out of the country to break bones and growth plates on two separate occasions in back to back months. He also enjoyed an overnight hospital stay in his father's absence.  I could go on and on about totaling my car and all the other things that broke or went wrong during that year and a half, but my point here is I NEEDED A BREAK.

Well, we got here, and I got my much needed break.  It has actually been more of a break than I had ever imagined thanks to the cleaning fairy that helps keep my house clean and our clothes washed.  Even with the break, one thing hasn't really changed.  We still live in 2 time zones.

Yes, all 4 of us are here together in Abu Dhabi, but my sister, nieces, nephew, mom, grandfather, and the rest of my family are all in the US.  On top of that we all left behind friends, people that were a part of our everyday lives for years.  In the states I worked with my best friend who I have known for 23 years.  That's 1 year longer than I've known my husband.  Unlike my husband, who grew up a Navy brat living all over the US, I lived in Virginia my whole life up until this move.  As a child, I grew up three doors down from my paternal grandparents till I was 12.  Then our "big" move was only 5 miles away. And thanks to my mom's large family(Grandma had 12 kids), my husband jokes that I can't go anywhere in our hometown of Chesapeake without running into a cousin.

No, I'm not clingy, but I take my relationships and friendships seriously.  I come from one of those southern families where family members greet you with a hug and sometimes even a kiss on the cheek, and all of them know you by your first and middle name, both of which they tend to use when referring to you.  I couldn't  just pack up and say, "See you guys later.  Have a good life."   Oh no.

Thanks to modern technology and things like social networking we haven't had to kick our US friends and family to the curb.  Despite having an account, my husband hates Facebook.  To me, it is my lifeline to the friends and family I left behind.  I love to log in and see the most recent pics of my nieces and nephew staring back at me.  Google with it's voice, video, and chat features along with smart phones have also made living 7500 miles away easier.  For my son, XBOX Live has been his lifeline to his friends in the US. It has also been a network to introduce his friends in Virginia to his new friends here.  My daughter has done the same with different mediums, and thanks to her, some of her friends in the states talk to some of her friends in Abu Dhabi.  It's like we have our own little global network.

I'm glad that we can still talk to and see the people we left behind, but just like those late night video chats with my husband, it comes with the cost of lost sleep. No matter how close modern technology brings us together it can't change the difference in time zones that separates us.  So, we continue to stay up a little later, but thankfully life is a little more relaxed here and afternoon naps aren't just for toddlers.

Sister love!

   My Grandfather and I the night before we moved.

The BFF and I a long long time ago......
I'm the one with the darker hair and the loud red lipstick.


Ben Streett said...

Great Blog, sweetie. I especially love the pic of you and Nate! I'm so glad that you are doing well and the family is all together. Just remember... "Distance does not minimumize relationships, it just stretches them to a new height".

Love you,


Thanks, Ben. Leaving him was the hardest part. We still chat often, and he has even been able to video chat with help from a young boy you know. :)