Two years ago today I was driving in a sandstorm in Qatar. I was counting down the days waiting to move to this island.
I was worried about the flight for the cats. I was terrified something would go wrong at the last minute. My company had my passport. I was still waiting for the end of service money.
I was watching on a computer screen as our entire belongings travelled in a container and went off the radar in pirate waters.
My head was constantly spinning plates that were never going to stay in the air and were going to come crashing down at any moment.
These thoughts are the ones of many expats at this time of year. But particularly for women. We are the ones who do all the juggling, and make all the arrangements.
Back home moving is one the top stressful things to do in life, as expats we’ve turned it into a hobby. As we organise packing and removals in different countries and time zones. We work out itineraries and flight details for husbands, children and animals.
We do the paperwork cross off all our lists. Then there comes a time when we can do no more. It’s like the silence just before a storm on a horror movie. If we are busy arranging and organising we can cope, but the sitting and waiting is excruciating.
In our heads are all the things that could go wrong. I even imagined arriving at the airport and being arrested. There was no logical reason for me to be arrested. I certainly hadn’t done anything wrong.
It’s the stories that you hear. They are passed around expat circles. From frozen bank accounts, firms refusing to pay what is owed, to shipping going down in the high seas and being arrested at the airport when leaving.
You know it will all work out in the end. In a few days time you’ll be sat on that flight and the moment the plane leaves the runway all the stress will be left behind with it. If you’re anything like me you’ll then fall into a sleep of complete exhaustion.
If you’re an expat moving this year, you’ve probably done it many times before and will again. The goodbyes are sometimes tearful, but you know those are the ones you’ll stay in contact with.
This time of year as the schools break up in the northern hemisphere the expat moving cycle hits a high. Airports will be rammed across the Middle East as everyone escapes the summer heat and this year Ramadan.
Among them will be those on the move, you’ll spot the slightly crazy look in their eyes. Don’t worry they aren’t terrorists, just women who’s whole life is in that airport at that moment.
There’s a combination of terror and excitement, for them the new an exciting adventure of the next place is just about to happen.
Two years on and the sandstorms seem like a lifetime away. The cats are relaxed in the sunshine after a night of hunting. One day, though I don’t know when, I’ll go through the moving mayhem again, maybe next time I’ll be calm and serene inside.
Qatar wasn’t always sandstorms, we had some good times and met some great people, in the expat moving cycle it was our time to move on to new things.
Right now I’ll enjoy the beautiful Greek blue sky. An old friend from university arrived last night for a weeks holiday. I get to be a tourist for a week, go around the holiday spots and hang out by the pool.