Christmas Eve, 2015. I’m writing on our balcony, drinking some coffee and eating pomegranate seeds waiting for my family to wake up. They flew in last night after nearly 24 hours of travel with a layover in Amsterdam. We had some late-night delivery Lebanese and talked about our itinerary for the week, jobs, neighbors back home, and features of the new iPhone 6s. There were moments when I had to remind myself that my parents and brother were here, in Abu Dhabi, and that we weren’t in my family’s kitchen back home in Maryland in the US.
Christmas backing up to New Years is always a reflective time for me. This was a batshit crazy year (and I’ll have more on that in a pre-2016 post I’m putting together) but we’re coming out on the other side of it a little older, a little wiser, and (I hope) a little more able to go with the flow. If being an expat has taught me anything, it’s to have – as my friend Jenny from the Dhabs and I coined her resolution for 2016 – “light expectations.” Not low, not no, but light. Be hopeful, a little optimistic, but be prepared.
One of the things I am hoping for in 2016 is to pull my writing and my creative work together in a more fluid way. I’ve been all over the map in terms of online presence for years, mostly because I set up all of my accounts when I was
young and stupid freelancing and then shifted away from them in various ways when my career shifted. Doing Communications and media work full time for other institutions has left me extremely tech savvy when it comes to those accounts I manage for my 9-5 (or some days 8am-10pm, but whatever) but has drained me of inspiration and aspiration for my own. Now that I’m edging back into the world of freelancing and hoping to open some creative space in my life for more focused writing work and longer-term projects, I’d like my online presence to mirror this as well. A clear house is a clear mind, and right now my “house” is not in order.
All of that aside, I also want to spend 2016 enjoying our expat life. The first two years here were manic, frazzled ones as we moved three times, planned a wedding back home in the States, I started a new job, and just generally most of the time it felt like we were hanging on by a thread. We came home from the wedding in July and said, “OK, now it’s time to relax!” and then got thrown into a hurricane of job stuff, another move that we hadn’t anticipated, some personal stuff, and just generally more tumult. (I wasn’t sure if tumult was an actual word, but I’m not getting a red squiggly underline so I’m confident that it is.)
At the risk of jinxing what we’re hoping to be a slightly less frantic next six or so months, I’ll just say – we have light expectations. Positive, hopeful, but hopefully prepared.
For now, it’s Christmas Eve and for the first time in years my immediate family is all under one roof. There is so much to be thankful for and reflect upon. There is gingerbread to be eaten, bottles to be popped, and touristy adventures in our expat home city to be had. Merry Christmas, everyone!