Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer plans Q&A

Final exams are over. Campus is quieting down as some students leave for home, even as others hunker down and gear up for summer term. The internet is running noticeably faster these days with the reduced student population no longer hogging the bandwidth. Gardening and maintenance crews are hard at work in University City, sprucing things up just in time for graduation ceremonies later this week.

Yes, summer is here. Even disregarding all of the above, I know this because two weeks ago it was 117 degrees outside.

These days, the questions on any expat educator's lips - and a lot of expats who aren't educators - are: where are you going this summer, and when do you leave? I've heard that the traffic and activity levels in Sharjah and Dubai slow noticeably during July and August as those with somewhere else to go, go there, for the duration. So, will we be part of this summer exodus, or not?

Well, it looks like not. We're determined to stick it out at home in the UAE this summer. This decision has puzzled a lot of people, bringing on such follow-up questions as:

You're not going to visit the US?
Nope. No plans to, anyway.

So you're really staying here the whole summer?
Yeah, but we're allowing for the possibility of a shorter, regional vacation, or a staycation, to break up the monotony.

Don't you miss your families?
Thanks for suggesting that we do not at all mourn the loss of a good, fun, summer-long romp with the cousins and grandparents. YES, WE MISS OUR FAMILIES. On the other hand, we just saw them not quite a year ago. And they are never going to come visit if we cave and go see them instead, right?

But wait, I thought Jeremy's job paid for annual leave tickets...
Well, it does. But guess what you get if you don't go anywhere? The money instead of the tickets. Imagine, if you will, the cost of a roundtrip ticket from Dubai to the western United States. Now multiply that by four. Now think of that sum sitting in your bank account every time you get a little bit bored this summer. Yeah.

Will you ever go visit your families in the US?
Of course! Next summer, for sure.

To be honest, abstaining from a carefree American summer with the extended family does break my heart a little (or a lot) every time I think of it. It seems especially cruel when you consider that we could have the airfare paid for if we wanted it. When Jeremy accepted this job, it seemed like a no-brainer: of course we'd go to the US every summer! But earlier this year when we were making plans, when we considered in depth the realities of the living hell that is jetlag with kids (it lasts two full weeks, folks), and the fact that it's our first year here so this summer can be a kind of fresh adventure, and that we have moved around SO DANG MUCH our whole married lives in general, and the last two years specifically...well, we realized that it's in the best interests of our family to just stay put, just this one summer.

Think of it this way: it will be the first summer in eight years that we haven't moved somewhere else. So this summer at home in the UAE will be a gift to ourselves, a gift of lazy, hot days ending at the pool - every night if we want to. A gift of no suitcases, no boxes to pack, no transatlantic flights, no shifting awkwardly as a family of four in our childhood bedrooms, no jet lag (hallelujah!), a rest from a change of scenery that, while fun, is sometimes disruptive for our kids.

Meanwhile, I'm making a mental list of all the things I will miss deeply this summer - the requisite trip to Enchanted Forest, bingeing on all the library books I can't get here, and reading them while grandparents and aunts and uncles tend my children, watching the cousins play together, and hanging out with my own siblings and siblings-in-law. Maybe some hikes, maybe a race, definitely some camping, maybe WARRIOR DASH.

Keeping all these things in mind will make next year's trip to the US all the more meaningful.


Jen said...

Actually, I completely agree with you. Four years ago, we stopped traveling for Christmas for many of those reasons you mentioned: jet-lag, hustle, living-out-of-a-suitcase, and the overall feeling of Christmas=suitcases/airports.

I could be an outlier--I'm a homebody at heart, and I especially like putting down family roots in one place. We lived in four places in the first four years of our marriage....and we've stayed put for the next four. UTTER. BLISS.

(Also? I'd totally suggest the staycation. We did one this year and it was the single best week we've had as a family. It was awesome.)

Eevi said...

Sounds a great plan. I loved our five weeks in Finland but I've never been happier to come back to my own house where kids sleep in different rooms and I have more choices of clothing that the five shirts that I brought with me:)

Plus ironically I always feel that when we visit family, Troy and I spent less time with each other because we are hanging out everyone else. So good for you for making this summer about YOUR family!

shabba shabba said...

Heh heh. The Enchanted Forest is so awful it's awesome. Tell me they're not charging 15 bucks to get in these days.

Liz Johnson said...

AMEN. And you really nailed it on the head with "don't you miss your families?!" I get that a LOT... like why don't we go visit every summer (or move back to live closer to our extended families)?! Because WE ARE OUR OWN FAMILY first, and the extended family comes second. And while we obviously miss our families, we need to do what's best for our immediate family first, and that doesn't always include visiting our extended families every spare moment. Sheesh. Also, if you are so concerned about us not spending time together, then come visit us! It's the same distance either way!
/rant over.
I'm so excited for your summer plans. I think you will LOVE IT. And I'm jealous of your summers by the pool! And the books! And the break! Way to hunker down and strengthen those family bonds. I applaud you! :)

Jen said...

P.S. I would like to be part of your summer plans.

Sarah Familia said...

I relate to this on so many levels. Enjoy your wonderful summer AT HOME. Someday I'd like to do that too!

Crys said...

I agree with you as well, I mean your summers are always jam packed and nuts. That being said, I laughed so hard at answer four. I imagine from the grandma point of view that padded bank account might be a little harsh :)

Chris said...

We will be in Germany next summer. We will have a room for you to stay in on your way out to the US. And the two summers after that.

Kathy Haynie said...

Your plan sounds "sane and humane," and I am saying that as a grandma who misses her own grandchildren. There are so many wonderful ways to stay in touch now, with skype and google chat, and while those can never replace a real, in-person visit, staying home for one summer sounds like exactly the right thing to do.

Anna said...

Bridget, why do you hate America and your family?
Just kidding! I hope you have an awesome summer.

Also, you guys SHOULD come to Germany. That would be so cool. Who know if it could live up to the wonders of Nebraska though...

H. said...

Yes it will be even better because you can meet my little BABY! Yipee!!

Jennifer said...

Sounds like you are doing the right thing for your family this summer. After all your summers on the move, I bet this year will be bliss--even if it is 117 degrees outside. :)

Bridget said...

Chris and Anna, little do you know, WE WILL TOTALLY TAKE YOU UP ON THAT. Seriously, a few months ago when we were thinking of summer plans, Jeremy actually said the words, "who do we know in Germany??"

H brings up a good point - there are no weddings or babies being born this summer. Although I still haven't met my niece who was born in November last year, oops. All the more reason to be excited for summer 2012! I'll have three new babies to visit by then.


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