I’m experiencing a strange feeling which I can’t quite put my finger on.
I know what it’s not: hitting a wall; I’ve done that before and I know what it feels like when the euphoric rush of relocation just seems to wear off in a heartbeat. This isn’t that.
I asked Mrs LC to review an early draft of this post because I didn’t think I was explaining myself very well. “You sound unhappy,” was her verdict. (“Thanks,” I replied, “but what did you think of the article?”) So it’s not that, either.
A demanding new day job to occupy me from 8am-6pm means my role back home has inevitably changed, too. In a daytime twist on the story of the Elves and the Shoemaker, things seem to get done as if by magic while I’m out. (This week, for example, a garden appeared). My kids have new friends over I don’t recognise.
I’m not sure if I’m feeling a bit adrift, or still just really, really disappointed by Spectre. (The censors here could have done us all a favour by not just cutting out the two most passionate scenes but, say, everything after the opening scene.)
It hasn’t helped that for the first time since we left in August, I actually missed being in Doha.
Qatar had a year’s worth of rain in nine hours last week, and watching the fun unfold / joining in with the live updates from the watery chaos would have been a blast.
If you live in a city that’s well organised and self-functioning, it’s hard to convey just how much we relied on the Twitter community for just about everything in Doha. From sharing the daily madness on the roads to opening times and where to buy things, there was an almost tangible sense of camaraderie amongst our virtual community.
(Abu Dhabi’s apparent lack of a similarly buzzing ecosystem is one of the very few areas where it hasn’t yet lived up to expectations.)
Coming home and catching up with the day’s events third hand felt strange. It was a perfect storm (literally) and they were having a field day, sharing updates, news, Vines and memes. That sense of laughing in the face of adversity was precisely the fuel needed to survive in Doha, and I was surprised by how much I found myself missing that feeling.
Another reminder of my disconnected state came last week when I paid only my second visit to the kids’ school since the first day of term. The occasion was Amnesiac’s Year 4 production, in which he had a small role as a hammerhead shark.
(At one point, he and his fellow sharks had to – for reasons I admit I wasn’t entirely clear about – dance badly, on purpose. I was thrilled to see that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree in terms of my son’s inability to channel any kind of rhythm.)
My only other visit had been for Kid A’s mid-term report. You could see the confusion on her teachers’ faces as I queued up to hear their feedback. Not only was I looking lost (which I was) and recognising absolutely no-one (which I didn’t), I also had no child in tow to clue them in as to who I was.
Hello, I would say, I’m Kid A’s dad. The universal wave of relief that followed, as they realised this wasn’t going to be one of those conversations, told me everything I needed to know about how she was getting on.
This feeling reminds me of the – touch wood – only time Kid A has ever needed to be rushed to hospital. Aged about three, she had a crazy high fever to the point of hallucinating and, with no sign of it slowing or stopping, emergency help was summoned by the GP.
Lying flat, delirious, and with the lights and sirens blaring, she couldn’t see who was driving the vehicle, and so became convinced it was a ‘magic ambulance’ which just drove itself.
I know it’s just a phase and that, like all others, this too will pass. The house is more ready than not; the urgency of our to-do list is diminishing daily; visitor season is almost upon us, and then it’ll be Christmas (not that you can tell).
I asked Mrs LC if this she had felt this discombobulated as the breadwinner during our time in Qatar. “Pretty much all the time,” she admitted.
But for now, it’s my turn.
Anyone else been in a similar situation, or got any tips for getting through it? Let me know in the comments below…