Today marks (almost) 9 months since arriving in Abu Dhabi. 9 months is the longest period of time that I have spent in one place in just over 3 years. And as I stare into the eyes of month 10, appropriately foregrounded with Halloween celebrations, I cannot help but look over these 3 years, and wonder how on earth I ended up in this corner of the world, with a bedside lamp and pot plants.
For a while Kabul has been in my mind.
No, that’s not accurate. In fact, Kabul has not been in my mind for some months. And then I met a friend for dinner who works there still, and we chatted about it. And then tonight I watched Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and it flooded back. In all its rage, intimacy, and floating-disorientation.
With a life now so comfortable, so clean, so whitewashed, how on earth could I have experienced the grit and intensity of that, this time last year?
Europe. Oxford. Jordan. South Sudan. Uganda. Afghanistan. South Africa. The UAE.
From the safest corners of the world, to the least safe, each gestation period (some prematurely squeezed out in 2 weeks, others that waited until the bloated end) has brought completely different growth spurts to my soul, and now I am wondering how on earth to piece them together. And to live a life that is true to the experiences, people, and promises that I have made along the way.
Is there no reconciling stocking-conversations over port in Oxford with gin shots in the Kabubble? Or driving along the lost and aching roads of South Sudan, with the pedicures of Abu Dhabi? Each have their own depth and value that cannot be conveyed in a phrase. But how do you stay true to all the love and the teaching that you have received in all these different contexts? The love that you have not only received, but used as the very blocks to build who you are, and how you see the world. Perhaps these experiences will always stay fractured pieces of a worldview, roughly knotted together by nothing more than the constant, uncompromising succession of time. But as disjointed as it may be, it remains my worldview: the one that I carry into every job and decision and relationship and conversation and debate.
And as difficult as it can be at times, as heartbreaking as the goodbyes have been, as lonely as it has been to create new lives, as challenging as each decision becomes, and as much as I want to run towards and away from my past experiences, usually at the same time, the view through my fractured, yellow gaze, is beautiful.