Five years ago this week, I was fleeing lightning storms in the Empty Quarter. Four years ago, we were enjoying Ski Dubai. Three years ago, we were on vacation in Germany. Two years ago, we were exploring Salalah. Last year, we were sweating out Spring Break in Sri Lanka.
But there's no Spring Break in Finland (we get week 8 off instead), so here we are, at home. I had suspected that frequent travel to far-flung places would be one of the things I missed the most about living in Sharjah, and it is. Once we get our bearings here a little more, I expect we'll do more traveling around this region, but it's been strange to go almost eight months without boarding a plane to...somewhere.
What else do I miss about Sharjah?
The wild, untamed feeling I got driving around those crazy city streets. We are getting our adventure fix here in Finland, too, but it does not involve feeling like I've taken a right turn into Peshawar on a regular basis.
Indian food and hummus and pomegranates and dates and other everyday delicacies.
That moment when you've been inside all day and you're freezing from the AC and you step outside into the 40C and aahhhhhhhh. Just for a minute or two, that overwhelming heat is just what you needed.
Having my children fawned over by total strangers on a regular basis.
The proximity of Oman. That country is amazing.
The crazy diverse mix of people who live in the UAE - that feeling never got old and while I am currently experiencing similar levels of "wow" being surrounded by Finns, I'm sure that will eventually wear off.
The call to prayer. I miss that sound (though the Tuomiokirkko cathedral bells are doing their best to fill that void).
Having a neighborhood pool that we could go to on a total whim and be there within five minutes and, best of all, never be cold at. It was always warm enough to swim. Always. As a child in the Pacific NW, going swimming meant being freezing cold. Sharjah taught me that that wasn't how it had to be.
My office in the most beautiful building on campus. It took my breath away every time I walked in. Also my work playing the piano for the performing arts program. Such good memories and I miss it.
Last/most of all are the people. We left such lovely friends behind and it makes my heart hurt to think of it. I have to remind myself that everyone will move away from that place eventually, so at worst we are only missing out on a few years on friendship. Isn't that a horrible thought? It is cold comfort indeed, but it's sometimes all an expatriate has to hold on to.