Wednesday, 1 April 2015

When change will come, whether invited or not.

The world is split into two types of people: Those who fill the sink to wash up and those who wash their dishes under the running water. 

I am the latter. 

Husband said I did not like change. A very illogical statement, if you ask me, since he knows perfectly well that I thrive on change. I mean, come on. I am a Gemini, I wither down to nothing without change. But, since neither of us believes in horoscopes, I could not use that argument very effectively. However, changing home countries twice works. I left Azerbaijan and made England my home. I then left England and….well, Qatar isn't really a  home, but hey, I live here. For an unpredictable number of years.

I also fancied a girl recently. Now, that's a change.

But back to changing homes. The reason we had an interesting week here, in our household, at the end of which the above illogical conclusion was drawn by Husband, was that he, i.e. Husband, decided we should move to a different compound, closer to school.

Do you have any idea how far a school can be in Doha?  In our case, it takes us approximately 45 minutes to reach it. It can drive anyone crazy after a while. I have been pretty unconcerned about it, but only because, due to my careful carpool planning and intricate manipulations, I found myself not doing any mornings, and only driving perhaps two to three afternoons a week. Husband, however, woke up one day and realised that he was the one doing most of the driving. It was bound to happen sooner or later, of course. I saw no point arguing. He has been doing an awful lot of school runs for over three years now.

So we started a discussion about a possibility of moving to a compound nearer to the school. The more I thought about that, the more it made sense. I liked the compound, I already had a few friends from school living there... It was new, it was clean, the houses were modern. Really quite nice houses, to be honest. Light and bright, with no enormous brass chandeliers or/and golden curtains. I quite fancied living in one of those. I drove there one more time. I walked around noting the behaviour of children playing outside. I looked in my friend's house, all over, glancing inside the cupboards and bathrooms. I waked over to the swimming pool and gazed into it for a while. In the end I said yes. Let's do it, I said. Let's move!

Emails got sent, dates of relocating have been set. Friends were told. I measured my big brown leather sofa and tried to space plan it in the new room. ( I used to get paid to do this) So, it was all going well.


The next morning, I woke up and something was wrong. I did not want to move.

I talked already here about the nature of expat life and about everything being very temporary. I reminded myself of that when I felt sad leaving my compound friends and moving to a new place. I know of course, that any of them can move away at any given moment, to a different house or a different country. But, to me, this very nature of transiency of our lives here is the reason that could be both for and against the move. The reality is such, that whether you are the kind of person who likes it or fears it, if you decided to be an expat, you have no choice but to live with a constant change. And in Doha, change springs up on you all of a sudden, without any foreplay and you have to relax and try to enjoy it. You find a beauty salon near you and a nice lady does your eye brows.  You return in three weeks for your regular treatment and the doors are locked, the signage removed and  nothing, not even a notice on the door indicates that any beauty salon had ever existed in the building before. Small things like that….Or, your neighbour could be choosing a maid one minute and packing her suitcases the other, as her husband got told he no longer had a job.  Somewhat bigger things.

And maybe precisely because of that, because everything is already constantly unstable enough here, in Doha, that I refused to move. It is because of the things that make me feel somewhat settled here. My network of friends and neighbours, some of which I have known for all the years I have lived in Qatar. My hairdresser and the cheap Thai massage place. My favourite Aspire club minutes away. The dodgy Indian restaurant where I can pop to for a greasy fried prawn dish if I feel like it. The plants market I always mean to visit more often but never do. The dangerous proximity of the only alcohol shop in town. The slightly cocky compound gardener.  It is my comfort zone, the set of things that I built around me to make me feel remotely at home. And should one of the components suddenly collapse and disappear from that set, I would still feel safe and comfortable in my comfort zone. And that is what I need, I guess, to survive happily here, as an expat.

So, I said to Husband, I am sorry. I know I was excited about the idea. I know I said yes. But you know what is another famous character trait for Gemini, don't you. We are notorious for changing our minds without much notice. And maybe he is right. Maybe I don't like change, after all. Because I know it will come anyway, whether invited or not.