There is no happy ending to this little trilogy, as much as I fought for there to be. But there’s no battle to be had if the other side doesn’t want what’s at stake.

Three years after my big break-up and out of nowhere in the Soho night, I found someone that made me want to give up being single. Because that’s how I look at it now – it’s not just about finding someone I want to be with, it’s needing to find someone that I’d give up being with myself for.

Three months of hanging out in London, before I hopped on a plane to the desert. Then three and a bit more months of near constant texting, hours and hours of Skyping, way too much sharing of my most inane thoughts, and a few weeks of planning an awesome adventure followed, and we then met in neither of our new homes to spent a week in each other’s company in the incredible Sri Lanka. I fell head over heels in love with that country, and quite a lot with him too. In a whole seven days, we spent only an hour or two apart, and I desperately held onto every second. Maybe too desperately.

He didn’t, doesn’t and won’t feel the same. I was willing to throw my energy into making a (admittedly, quite ridiculous) long distance thing work. He was not. I initially thought it was because I was being too romantic and he was being too practical. That this was meant to be, that it was just damn logistics getting in our way.

The real kicker came when I realised it was nothing to do with the time difference or the annual leave or the cost of flights or any of the other hundreds of reasons why a really, really long distance relationship is a terrible idea. He didn’t want me. And that’s how it ends.

Six months ago today, I moved to Dubai (yay, another Dubai-iversary for me! I won’t do this every month, I promise) and to this day I cannot tell you why. I guess the only answer I have is, why not?

At the end of August 2016, I got the text that kick started this whole thing: “Still not ready for a move?”

Still not ready for a move.

I’d mentioned it before, more than once. My desire to live abroad. But it was always …at some point. I guess it had become one of those things I said but never did. Something I’d get round to eventually. Eighteen months after my friend left the UK for Dubai, it took one simple question from a him to remind me that I’d been all talk, no action.

I’d never even been to Dubai. I’d never really had it on my radar, other than a potential place to visit for some winter sun with a free place to crash. Of all the places on my ‘I want to live abroad’ list, Dubai would not have even made the top 10, probably even the top 20. I’m not a Dubai-type (or so my old colleagues said). I struggled in the summer in the UK, I always got heat stroke, I hated air con. Of all the reasons I shouldn’t move to Dubai, the main one that I couldn’t shake on the pros list was, why not?

So, why not? I have no mortgage, no boyfriend, no children, no dependents of any kind. I loved my job, but I was cruising in it. I wasn’t about to get promoted, or even moved sideways, anytime soon. I loved my hobbies, but I’d been running the same races and going to the same classes for a couple of years – plus there’ll always be there if I want to go back. I’d see my family less, which is horrible with a young nephew I’m now watching grow up from afar, but if I’m honest, I didn’t see them more than every couple of months when I lived in London anyway. Plus Skype is a wonderful thing.

When I was at university, we had the opportunity to study in New York for a semester. I might not have got accepted, and I might not have been able to fund it – but I didn’t even put myself forward for it because I couldn’t face the thought of three months apart from my boyfriend at the time. It took me a couple of years to realise how much of a regret that was, but when I did, I vowed that I would never not do something because of anyone else again. (Obviously, I will be there for my family and friends when they need me, but there’s a difference between loyalty and fear.)

The hardest thing was leaving was leaving my friends. I miss them everyday. But I didn’t see them everyday, and it would place an unfair burden on my friendships if I was staying somewhere because of them. Some of the friends I left are my soulmates, I love them deeply. Which is why I know that despite 3,500 miles, we’ll be okay. Different, but okay.

There’s nothing like emigrating to make you appreciate the intense passing of time. The past six months have sped by in a blur. I’m starting to feel less like a confused (and very pale) newcomer and more like someone that actually has a clue what’s going on in this crazy town. Plus I have the beginnings of a tan, finally.

But my absolute favourite thing so far: the only time I have worn socks in half a year is to workout. Normal socks are now literally redundant in my life. If that’s not a reason to move, then I don’t know what is.

A month today, I turn thirty.

So far, I’ve sort-of prided myself on being one of those people that didn’t freak out about this. I’m still not freaking out – I don’t think – I’m still really excited. It’s more that it is just… creeping into my consciousness a bit more than I’d like.

Maybe it’s because I’m now actually next in line of my friends, so it’s less abstract-thing-that’s-happening-to-someone-else and more real-thing-that’s-about-to-happen-to-me.

Maybe it’s because an ex told me he’s met someone new, the first new person since me. Always odd to hear, no matter how good friends you are now (which we are) and no matter how happy you are for them (which I am).

Or maybe it’s because I’m coming out the other side of a heartbreak. The first proper, painful one I’ve experienced in a while. The kind where I forgot to eat for a week and the most exercise I got was opening my MacBook to Skype-cry to my Mum. I knew it was coming yet it still knocked me sideways.

It’s annoying me that this should have any significance now. Would it hurt any more or any less if it was six months earlier or six months later? Probably not. But there’s nothing like being cleanly, totally, back-at-square-one single to make you feel vulnerable, scared and these days, also a little bit older.

Oh, but hang on, what better time to be celebrating my birthday by flying to Ibiza? Turning thirty in the happiest place on earth with my favourite people on earth? Maybe it’s not so bad after all. Put me in a bikini, hand me a beer, play me some house music. I’ll be in heaven. The countdown to the big 3-0 is on…

So chums, it’s just been my two month Dubai-iversary (can I get away with that? Not sure I can…) Woo! Go me! Etc! And whilst at some point I might do a highly practical guide to uprooting your whole life and moving to a country you’d only previously visited for a total of 48 hours (if you feel so inclined), right now what I feel so inclined to do is to share some of the less expected stuff that’s happened to me in my first 60-ish days in the sandpit. I’ve really taken to calling Dubai that – factual, yet playful, I feel. Anyway…

Various car woes 

Until a couple of weeks ago, I had barely driven a left hand drive, had never driven an automatic and sure as hell had not been in a Nissan Sunny. Now, I do all three on the daily. As well as my many very successful trips – office, hardware store, garden centre – there’s also been:

  • The time I got a parking fine. My manicure got quite expensive that day. But it’s powder pink, makes me look tanned and is still going strong a week and a half later, so it was almost worth it. 
  • The time I got reversed into whilst – surprisingly – I was stationary and minding my own business. 
  • The time(s) I’ve almost run out of petrol. Yeh, you know when you’re doing 100kmh along a five lane wide road and you can just *feel* your poor car is about to give up the ghost? I didn’t like that. Not one bit. 
  • And my favourite so far, the time we drove to the desert to go camping, got lost, it got dark, we got stuck in the sand, my attempt at getting us out only buried the car deeper and we eventually had to flag down three passing men in a pickup to push us out. 

Various bird woes

If you follow me on Instagram, you might’ve seen that I acquired a somewhat unwelcome pet within a day of moving into my apartment. A pigeon (I called her Bob) decided to make my tiny balcony home, and laid two eggs. I freaked out one morning, removed the eggs (I know, I know, I am a terrible person), cried when I watched a panic-stricken Bob come back and have been racked with guilt ever since. Well, Karma (or rather, just Bob) has come back to get me, as whenever I now try to enjoy the view of the Marina in the early evening sunshine, she comes back and terrorises me off my balcony. I’m not even being melodramatic here, at the weekend she hid around the corner then took a dive for my head. She’s smart, that one. I’m also thinking about getting a cat. 

One really big iPhone woe

You know those nights where you ‘go for a couple of beers’ to round off your working week and end up getting in 10 hours later? Well, apparently they still happen to me, wherever I am living. This particular one (in which I also drank bright blue concoctions like I was 19 again – and wouldn’t have the hangover of someone 10 years older) resulted in me almost ruining my brand new pair of white leather pumps, leaving my phone in a taxi and spending the entire rest of the weekend watching it not move on Find my iPhone. Luckily, Dubai is the kinda place where people don’t steal stuff (sensible side note: it genuinely feels really safe here and it’s one of the things I’m really liking. Knowing that there’s pretty much zero chance of someone grabbing your phone out of your hand whilst you’re walking along is actually pretty nice. Or it’s ridiculous that that’s a ‘thing’ in London… but, whatever) so my taxi driver drove it back to me, and only asked for a very reasonable remuneration for his bother.

This isn’t to say I’m not enjoying myself. This is more of a handy reminder that whilst in my head – and on my Instagram – it was going to be all beaches, tanning, brunches and views of tall buildings (there has been a lot of that too), living the dream is also a bit bloody awkward sometimes. There’s loads more of this to come. I’m about to go into my first Dubai summer of 50+ degree heat and stifling humidity. Oh, and I haven’t even ventured onto Tinder yet. Brace yourselves.

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The problem with feelings is that they don’t go away just because you do.

And thanks to the invention of WhatsApp (and to my shock AND embarrassment, Snapchat), aided by Dubai’s near constant provision of WiFi, to begin with it felt like I hadn’t gone anywhere at all.

I’m well versed in long distance relationships. Not recently, but I’ve covered off nearly four years of not residing in the same city as boyfriends in my dating past. It doesn’t bother me. In fact, I think it suits me: a week or two to be as reclusive or as wild as I please (because it’s usually one or the other – or more often – one as a result of the other), followed by heart-hurting longing but ultimately the sweet satisfaction of a reconnection. 

This time, connections are severed. I’m clinging onto already fading memories of jokes shared and conversations spoken, of sleep lost and chemistry felt. Memories that are unlikely to be repeated soon, if at all. It wasn’t even a boyfriend this time, but somehow I’m missing him more than anyone else I left behind.

He’s the only one I feel I’ve flown away from forever. Friends are part of my being, I just won’t be able to go on without them. I might not see them this month, or even next – but I will, and it will be again and again.

But he feels gone – or going, at least. The excitement of possibility dwindles, still leaving only ‘what if’ behind. A question that was never destined to have an answer, but one I still can’t stop asking myself.