It’s pretty surreal to say, “We live in Dubai.” Like, we LIVE here. Not vacationing, not checking it out….Dubai is home. For around the next three years.
CHANGE IS GOOD
I didn’t always agree with this. Moving to Houston, from Calgary, back in 2011 felt like my entire world got rocked. My emotions were a little out of control, and I felt like I was being taken away from “home”. “Two years TOPS” suddenly turned into 7. And now we are here in Dubai, and I felt none of that when we left. Not even when I handed over the keys to my home of 5 years, to tenants. Turns out, change IS good.
HOME IS NOT A PLACE
There are many people who have never, ever had the travel bug or desire to be more than a quick drive away from family. I get it. Not one single thing wrong with that either. In fact, it was kind of me. There is security, nostalgia, history and just that family feeling there. I miss it for SURE. I definately felt it when I was back home in Alberta this summer, riding through the fields on the quad, heading to the river to do some fishing. That felt like my childhood.
When my brother Jeff and his fiance Stephanie moved to Houston earlier this year, it IMMEDIATELY made it feel more like home than it ever had. Literally the most bittersweet moment in the past 7 years of living away, was knowing they just moved there, and purposely chose a place close to ours. As a result, we bonded SO FAST, it was heartwrenching to leave them behind. Sophia took it the hardest I think. Her and Stephanie got real close, real fast.
Backstory, I am 7 years older than my youngest brothers Jeff and Cody. That means, I was out of the house and living on my own since they were 11. I didn’t get to first hand experience their teenage years, their hockey careers, or really any of their growing up stuff. I was busy off (selfishly) leading my own life, so while I was proud we were all family, I didn’t really know them. Just the highlights.
Other random fun fact, when my mom brought the twins home from the hospital, she knew this would be a big job with three other kids at home. She looked at me and my older sister Amber and said, “OK girls, you get to help and you each get one little brother to be in charge of!” Take a wild guess which one I helped the most with….isn’t that crazy?!
IT’S THE PEOPLE
People make where you are home. Not a house or town. Your people. Up until Jeff and Stephanie came to Texas, we had created a beautiful “Framily” of friends from all over. Some born and raised there, some transplants like us. Many moved away in those 7 years, many stayed. It was constant change, and I struggled when some of my faves left. Which is probably why I loved when family moved in. No “getting to know you” phase. We are in it together from the first moment.
What I didn’t realize is how much better this few months in time, allowed me to really get to know the man my little 11 year old brother had grown into. He and Kent work at the same company, so I got to hear them interact. That my kids got to see him as a full time uncle, not just once a year. Same with Stephanie, she’s SO SWEET and we are all so glad to have her in the family. And then we leave….and go incredibly far away to Dubai.
I know, it sounds like I’m REALLY contradicting myself; but stay with me.
GOD HAD A PLAN
What I can say this move to Dubai has shown me, is when His Plan is set for you, nothing stops it. There have been way too many things that fell into place, that should have been difficult, to make me believe anything else.
As soon as I started talking about the potential move, He put people in front of me that gave me great comfort and confidence this would be a the right transition. I listened way more than I spoke around them, soaking all the info in.
There was the woman who was collecting gift cards for our Pastor to congratulate him on a milestone, when I dropped it off and mentioned we were moving, she lit up and said, “I grew up there! You will love it!”. So of course, we chatted extensively!
Then people I have known for years are connecting me with THEIR friends in Dubai, or who have lived here, to help us transition! Nothing makes you feel more loved than that.
The family we are replacing here in Dubai, also happens to be good friends of ours, and she told me about ways to get connected with the Expat Community here, and how to register for the school super early. It took a month; but it was the FIRST thing I did, even before we knew the move was official, and I’m so grateful.
We were in Banff hiking the Johnson Canyon, and I had a brief conversation with a woman and mentioned we were moving, and she says, “Oh! I live there! I’m just on summer break and then head back to teach at the end of the month.” WHAT!?
Our home leases in less than a month before we have to leave the country.
We sell our vehicles in ONE DAY…the day before Kent has to leave to start work. His name is on both titles so he HAD to be there to sign the paperwork. I mean…..
I knew more about Dubai, the kids school, the areas we could look at to live in, and already had a network of fellow expats WELL BEFORE I even set foot on that plane. God is so good.
The list goes on friends, and it’s just too much to ignore. SO, while I miss my friends, family, church and everything else about my home in The Woodlands (loved this Texas notebook I found at the Erin Condren Flagship store in Austin back in Feburary!). I know my family is the four people in my house (plus our fur baby who will join us in a couple months) and as long as we are together, living our best lives, then we are HOME.
DUBAI, SO FAR
Devon, Sophia and I have never taken a flight longer than 8 hours. This was our first 15 hour trek, and it was great! No hiccups, we all managed to sleep, food was great and I can’t say enough about my flight with Emirates Air! Maybe we were just really excited; but regardless, it was smooth sailing for us.
We moved from a lush, green, heavily landscaped town to the middle of a very urban city! But I’m kind of loving it! Gorgeous details on all of the buildings, roads, in the malls….you name it, everywhere you look is so interesting. Skyscrapers everywhere, the “World’s Biggest / Tallest” something every which way you turn (from these milk shakes to this Ferris Wheel!); but it’s been super welcoming. No language barrier to overcome has been a huge help for sure, yet I’m completely fascinated with how Arabic looks in writing.
We will spend the next 2 months at a residence hotel until our shipment of our belongings arrives from Houston. Until then, we get to be in a location that is walking distance from almost anything, including the beach! Malls, grocery stores, running paths, you name it, we are in the middle of it. What a way to start our time here!
Couple things to get used to….the washing machine is also the dryer, sooooo that is new. Turns out, lots of places all over the world use this kind of system; but here I am never having heard of it! The fresh food has very little to no preservatives in it, so it doesn’t last long. Honestly, if you ask me, coming from the US where everything can be processed or full of preservatives (bread shouldn’t last 2 weeks in the pantry, right?!) this is a welcome change. Good thing I started meal planning earlier this year, I think this will be key, to not only having food in the house when we need it; but saving on groceries.
Yes, it’s more expensive here. Groceries, especially pantry items can be really pricey; but alot of it is imported! Tons of things that I can get back in Canada or the US are here; but it just costs more, depending on the product. Kent and I have decided that we’d love to try cooking more local foods and dishes, so I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!
Since we are in a furnished apartment, I haven’t had to buy much for a house yet. IKEA is a major home store here; but I’m hoping to find a few others that may have some fun things, since I started to switch up my style at home earlier this year.
Fashion….oh…baby. I am in my happppyyyyy ppllaccceeeeee. So much more to come on THAT.
IT’S ALREADY HOME
So one week in, this IS home. Because I see my favorite faces each and every day. We are experiencing new and exciting moments in life together, for the first time. And when I think back to all the wonderful family and friends who are following along on my social media, and connecting on WhatsApp, and just sending us love and prayers, I am grateful for both man made technology and God’s plan for our lives.
I’m not sure what He has planned exactly, or why He brought us here; but I know for sure, I will enter each day with a wide open heart and sincere gratitude. The world is huge, and we are finally going to not just see it, or read about it; but live it. It’s pretty surreal.