Last weekend I went for a roast dinner (my first one in Dubai!) with three women I met via a meetup group (more on making friends in a new town another time). We had all met at least one of the group a couple of times before, but this was the first time we’d spent any time together as this combination of four.

Conversation was ticking along pleasantly, and about an hour in, someone asked “so, who out of us is single?” It turned out, three of us were. I was really surprised – a 75% single rate is probably the highest I’ve found in any social situation I’ve been in in nine months. It feels like everyone in Dubai is married, or at least well on their way to be. In my late twenties in London, I was always aware that I was in the minority as a single person, but as a 30 year old woman in Dubai, I feel very much like the odd one out. Women my age don’t move here on their own. They move with their husbands – either following him a few months after he’s set up here or embarking on the adventure together. I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked me who I’m out here with (I’m old enough not to need parental supervision), who I live with (just myself, and it is WONDERFUL), or even just as blunt as where my husband is (you tell me love, you tell me).

The relationship status question opened the floodgates. The usual topics of ‘why is Tinder so awful’, ‘why is Bumble such hard work’, ‘why are men so terrified of commitment’ (the constant million dollar question of anyone unlucky enough to fling themselves into the dating fire pit) filled the conversation. Turns out there are single men here, they just all sound they should be gracing the pages of Take a Break magazine. I kicked off proceedings with my most recent dating story, but it turns out ‘he was perfectly lovely for two months, then ran for the hills at the slightest whiff of a relationship’ pales into actually being quite pleasant when compared to:

The story of the guy who rescued the woman he was dating from a not-insignificant adventure sport accident, stayed with her in hospital, provided for her in the 2+ months she wasn’t working, persuaded her to visit him in Oman, then the day before her flight, ghosted her. Communication severed – calls unanswered, texts not replied to, just like that. Only to be spotted on Instagram a few weeks later enjoying a helicopter ride with his new beau.

The story of the guy who lied about his nationality, lied about his job… and even lied about the fact that he was going to pay half the rent of the apartment he was sharing with his girlfriend, effectively leaving her homeless at twenty minutes notice.

The story of the guy who entered a UK-UAE long distance relationship with a woman who was living here, introducing her to all his extended family via Skype (including his nephews), eventually leading (after a couple of years) to her being persuaded to quit her job and return home from the Middle East to be with him, only to discover that said nephews were in fact sons, and there was also a wife in the picture.

Wish me luck everyone, dating in 2018 is going to (continue to) be a bumpy ride!

 

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.

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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Sod’s law says that if something can go wrong, it will.

But what do you call it when you meet a guy you really like (the first one you’ve liked in ages) only days after you’ve decided to leave the country?

What do you call it when you’ve found someone rare: a decent man that actually texts back, turns up on time and makes the bed without asking? A man that you have genuine chemistry with?

What do you call it when he is the right amount of teasing, but complimentary; of silent, but talkative; of just like you, but totally not at all. 

What do you do when he says the very words you’ve been avoiding thinking for weeks, “I wonder where this could’ve gone?”

So of course, you also wonder, because it could’ve gone nowhere, but it equally could’ve gone somewhere too. You wonder if it could’ve been so much more.

But you know that it doesn’t matter what you wonder, not really. The decision to leave is done, is bigger, is still absolutely the right thing to do.

He is still amazing, it was great whilst it lasted.

Earlier this month, this blog of mine turned six years old.

Even typing that sentence, as I just have, on my actual MacBook, feels weird. Blogging doesn’t exist anymore, not like it used to. We’ve gone from no one having a blog, to everyone having a blog, to now – where it seems as if we’re back at a nobody again.

I’ve managed to write at least a couple of posts every year that this site has been in existence, but I’ve come within seconds of deleting the whole damn thing on several occasions. If no one writes blogs or reads blogs anymore, then what is the point of owning one? But then I remembered, that has never been the point. I’ve never written a word in the hope that someone else would read it (okay okay, apart from a handful of thinly veiled passive aggressive rants aimed at my evil ex, but there’s at least one more of those to come…) – it’s always been for my own self-absorbed interest.

I’ve never hit ‘delete’ because I knew there’d always be a point when I feel like writing something again. And lucky for you (or just me, when I read this back in a few minutes), that time is now.

Whilst everyone has migrated elsewhere on the internet and are busy abusing their ‘friends’ on Facebook, trolling ‘celebrities’ on Twitter and slipping into each other’s DM’s left, right and centre on Instagram, I’m going to use the relative quiet of this space here in the corner, to get some of my thoughts straight. It’s nice to have somewhere where there’s not quite so much yelling. Oh man, there’s just so much yelling.