Granted I’m not quite as lost now as I was, say two weeks ago. See my motley crew?
We make up an expat meetup group of I’d guess at least 10 different nationalities. Expats are a funny ol’ bunch in this country. You’re kind of bundled together in this random pack with people you would never normally look at let alone befriend. But here we all are in circumstances which cause us to become close companions, each others life rafts, in this drowning world of unfamiliarity.
It’s easy to talk to these folks. We have a common bond. Confusion, mostly!
Three questions every expat must be asked when first approached:
‘Where are you from?’ ‘How long have you been here?’ ‘What do you do in Kuwait?’
Or, if you’re me- ‘Are you American?’ ‘Are you a teacher?’ ‘Are you married?’ … I like confusing people with my answers. ‘No, Irish.’ ‘No, I’m an operations manager.’ ‘HELL, no.’
We also bond over the lack of alcohol. The absence of pork. The taxi’s (oh how we love to tell taxi stories). The driving in general. The way Arab men think it’s totally cool to come over and shout ‘Hey baby, I love your Obama, can I have your number?’ (My guy friends would probably wish for me to point out that they don’t get these same cat calls. Although I think at times they’re a little jealous!)
So these bondings led to a friendship. She’s a crazy Jew. From Wisconsin. From here on she will be referred to as Jewsconsin as to preserve her modesty. We’re taking a trip together. Oh hell yeahhhhhh!
My sister is 19. So given that I’m nearly 10 years older you would expect it to be me that gives her the advice on love, life and growing up. For the most part I do, and it would appear so far I’ve not done a bad job. However when said sister turns around and makes an observation on your life so apt that you can’t help but wonder ‘When the hell did my baby sister become a woman?’
My name is Tracey and “I’m in love with being in love” (So is Kim Kardashian, my sister informs me. Great comparison- a woman who’s second marriage lasted 79 days). Like any good addict, my obsession causes me pain and anguish but also untold pleasure and unexplainable delirium. I can pinpoint exactly when my addiction started but I cannot tell you when, if ever it will end. I’ve spent years staying in relationships that were so far past their sell by date they had become mouldy and started to smell. Staying with men that were abusive, both physically and mentally. Being involved with men who wore wedding bands, men who had serious issues and ones who had a ticking clock on the available time in the same country as me.
It would be funny if this wasn’t my story.
I don’t have regrets. I wouldn’t be who I am today had I not made the choices I have. And holy cow have I made some damn good choices (Lil’ sister also informs me that my ‘FWB’ looks like Channing Tatum– holla!) but I do also make really bad decisions (sleeping with your boss, it’s like dating don’t 101).
I guess, right now I’m not yet destined to be the stay at home Mum with the white picket fence, dogs and chickens. But I don’t want to be the lonely, nearly 30 year old nomad either. Can I just get a little in between?
To say my life for the last 10 years has been a dramatic one would be something of an understatement. Since I left the good ‘ol Emerald Isle when I was 18 I have had more ups and downs than the proverbial rollercoaster. So after one too many vomit inducing rides on said English ‘coaster, I decided to move to Kuwait.
Let me tell you what I knew about Kuwait when I signed the next two years of my life away… NOTHING!! Geography and Politics have never really been my strong point. Locating a city in Ireland was always something of a challenge, so trying to find a country like Kuwait on the map was damn near impossible.
A quick consultation with my good friend Google told me that it was bordered by Iraq and Saudi Arabia (not particularly appealing to a blonde, white girl) and that it had been bombed in my lifetime (I know I’m getting old like, but my lifetime doesn’t exactly span centuries).
So you’re probably wondering why I said yes? Well, the recession had hit the North of England bad, I’d had just about enough of English men, all my friends (even my usually dependable drinking partners- the gays) were getting married, shacking up, having kids… That sort of adult behavior that had so far escaped me. Plus there were upsides to Kuwait. Living in the tax free Middle East sounded like a dream, the job offered was a superb position that would’ve take me another 5 years hard work and ass kissing in the UK to secure, it’s sunny 90% of the year, oh and they did mention something about having to go to Orlando on an all expenses paid business trip for 90 days that might’ve swung it!
So on September 25th, after a marathon journey getting my visa processed between Dublin, Manchester and London- involving planes, trains, buses and a ferry thrown in for good measure, there I was sat in Manchester International Airport. I’d done many many tearful goodbyes, none more so than when I left my Mum sobbing at the departure gate. There I was sat in the Emirates lounge heart heaving from my cries with several fellow travelers wondering what the hell was exactly wrong with me. Sad, happy, excited, apprehensive. I’d really gone and done it now hadn’t I?