So I packed a nicotine smelling, mismatched bag of clothes and boarded an Etihad business class flight from Chicago to Abu Dhabi for my husband’s interview. Having never visited a Middle Eastern country, I was a little apprehensive about what to wear and how to behave. Although I considered myself somewhat well-travelled, I have to admit that there was a little voice inside my head that was thinking crazy stuff. For example, I was unnecessarily preoccupied with the thought of bombs. When deciding on an airline for the trip my logic was that we should book a flight with a Middle Eastern airline because they wouldn’t bomb their own planes or how I felt threatened by the drunken Indian grandmother in the business class lounge because she could be a suicide bomber. Obviously, this was a silly American stereotype against people with dark skin because Indians don’t usually blow themselves up.
So we left the coziness of our business class lounge (complete with buffet and back massages) and made our way to the gate to board our flight for Abu Dhabi. Immediately the smell of body odor punched me in the stomach. The odor was so strong it felt like someone jabbed fondue forks up my nose. It was almost as though the lining of my nostrils was disintegrating as I stood there. For the most part, Americans do not have body odor because we generally bath on a regular basis (yes, I know…remember this is a humor blog; not a sociology study), wear deodorant and don’t eat foods that permeate from within and expel in a blue fog of funkiness. Some people, on the other hand, are another story and since Abu Dhabi is in route to so many places — the gate was was packed with smelly people. So right before the big buffet came back up to greet everyone, I was ushered by an attractive lady aboard the plane into the smell free zone referred to as Business Class.
Wow! I thought. So these planes do exist! All these years we have been saving up American Airline frequent flyer miles to simply move up to a bigger chair closer to the pee closet. Wow! (mouth dropped open) This plane puts the American air industry to shame and this isn’t even first class! Immediately a very coiffed flight attendant approached me to help with my bags and guide me to my seat. As soon as I reached my seat I was being forced fed cold beverages and gourmet food by one of the most attractive and best mannered flight attendants I have ever experienced. (Sadly, picture below does not include the mandatory Marilyn Monroe red lipstick).
Immediately memories of the tenured and weary American flight attendants in worn uniforms pushing a large, heavy beverage cart were gone. The fear of suicide bombers was gone. I settled in for my 18 hour flight and the only thing I was thinking about was my champagne and my gourmet meal, my seat that reclined to a bed, my big fluffy blanket, the French movie I was getting ready to watch and this once in a lifetime experience.
So how did this all begin? It began like a storybook but it soon became a nightmare. After six months of searching I finally found my dream house. It was awesome. It was the kind of place that would look like a magazine spread with a little hard work. It had twenty-seven of the most beautiful palms trees sitting on a one-acre backyard with a resort swimming pool and trees with lemons the size of a coffee cup. We turned in the keys to our rental house, gave the seller a 40k deposit and a couple days before closing moved all of our things into our new garage. The previous owner was an older lady who had chained smoked in the house for twenty-five years, and consequently, was dying of cancer. The walls were caked with nicotine and the house reeked like a roadside bar, but I loved this house. It had an 1970’s sophistication — old money, like before the construction boom of the 1990’s. I pulled out the carpet, blinds, curtains, and anything else that was harboring the nasty odor and had the place professionally fumigated. The next two days prior to closing we slept on a mattress on the floor preparing to begin the big remodel. The day before closing we received a call from the title company informing us that according to the title search the seller did not own the house. What! It was owned by her dead boyfriend’s children who hated her and apparently they were planning to take her to court, and here we were stuck in the middle of this mess and sleeping on the floor of a disgusting cigarette pit.
We spent the spring and part of the summer hanging onto the hope that something was going to work out with this house. As it started to become clear that it wasn’t, we began thinking of alternative plans. “What the hell are we going to do?” I asked my husband. I refuse to look at other homes for sale. I am exhausted, my back hurts, my spirit is broken and I want to seriously slap someone. What do we do now? “Remember the Arabs?” my husband asked. “The recruiter called me again. What do you think? Do you want to move to Abu Dhabi?” Yes, Honey that is exactly what I want to do since in the ten years we have been married I have packed up moved across country 4 times! The plan was to buy this awesome house and never move…ever…again. But the reality was, I was forced to move somewhere. The question now was — how far? “I think you should put your research skills to work and take a look at Abu Dhabi,” my husband said. Moving half-way across the world was not on the top of my list, but we needed to do something — quickly. So I started doing my research on the United Arab Emirates (which I could not pick off of an unlabeled map prior to my research). One thing you should know about me, I am an excellent researcher. I am the kind of person who does research for fun. I am constantly amazed at how intertwined the world is, so, for me, research is a rabbit hole that leads to all kinds of interesting places where I can become easily lost for hours upon hours.
So off I went into my rabbit hole of the Middle East called Abu Dhabi.