Repatriation. That's what they call it when you move back to your home country after a long absence, after a stint as a working resident, or an expat, in a foreign country. 2012 is our own Brady-Watts year of repatriation, re-immersion, even re-introduction back into American life, and it is almost as complicated as it sounds. And though we are anxious to fill out this next chapter of ours, the questions keep on coming as to what we miss, and what we were sad to leave behind us in the United Arab Emirates. The land of Sheikhs and camels and oil and the tallest building in the world. And the guilty truth I am afraid, goes like this.
We will miss our winter weekends on the beaches of the Arabian Gulf. Cheap air tickets to Turkey and India and a daily dose of culture, foreign intrigue and all those folks un-American. We'll miss the wonderful maids. Our office coffee cup cleaners and mall bathroom attendants. The chai guys at the rental car office and gas pumpers in 122 degree weather (and don't forget cheap gas). And the ever so smiley and grateful live-in nannies, efficient bus boys in deluxe food courts and the best most beautiful malls in the world.
But at this very moment, I must coordinate our complicated multi-national move. Our Dubai stuff, which arrived by ship, train and truck to Chicago, is now en route to our new Virginia house, while I sit watching our Colorado stuff get loaded for the trek to Virginia into a massive long-haul truck. All while turning over the to-do list in my mind for enrolling the kids in new schools. As my brother pointed out when we were shifting houses within Dubai, we now had too much junk in too many countries, and now it's in too many states. Whatever. We are a family of five who has travelled the world and accumulated some stuff. Can someone please explain this to my husband?
But our junk aside, after a seven month transition in Chicago, during which we found Billy an exciting DC consulting job, a lovely yellow Virginia house, and while the kids famously are about to change schools for the second time this year, we are excited about our prospects while still adjusting to our American life.
But it has not been without some surprises and uncomfortable discoveries. Though I hated self-censoring my blog in Dubai and the blacked out magazines on the racks in book shops, I did enjoy worry-free (blocked) Internet where the kids would never come across inappropriate YouTube, and clean, drug and alcohol-free radio. I appreciate now, not having to field questions about a massive condom ad across from the pediatrician's window as I did upon our return to Chicago. So you see, a little gentle oppression of democratic freedoms does have its puritanical advantages. It makes one become a prude.