In Search Of…

Do you know where your roots lie? Do you know what your name means or where it came from? Can you trace your lineage back to where it all began? For many people, the answers to these questions are no. For many African Americans, there is a huge void that has followed their family from generation to generation. Without going into an extended history lesson of the African Slave Trade, I will say this: not knowing where you came from makes it nearly impossible to know who you are. In recent years, many people have decided to trace their family roots and complete the DNA tests. That’s on my list of things to do this year, but as of late, I’ve been on this search to really uncover the person that I am and who my Creator designed me to be.

You may be wondering what any of this has to do with living in the UAE. Well, I’ll tell you. The Emirati culture is incredibly rich and deeply rooted in the fibers of this country. Everything that is done has a purpose from the names that are chosen for children, to the clothing that is worn by the men and women, and even the festivities that are celebrated. Every single girl in all of my classes can tell me what their name means, why their parents chose that name for them, and how their name fits who they are. It’s fascinating. Very contrary to the names that many people bear solely because their parents had an affinity to a specific alcohol or they were fascinated by a particular car.

Since arriving here, I’ve noticed just how I was cheated by being and growing up in America. I’ve realized how ignorant I have been about things relating to this part of this world, and how I seemingly drank the Kool-aide, as did many of my fellow patriots. Don’t get me wrong; I am a proud American (on most days), but the duality of my being both American and Black have a tendency to clash with one another.

Rambling to be continued…

Balance: The New Way of Life

People oftentimes ask me what life is like living in the UAE. They ask what a typical day is like for me. So, here’s my daily schedule:

5:30 a.m.-Get awakened by the call to prayer; acknowledge the prayer call, and roll back over.

6:00 a.m.-Get awakened by the call to prayer; think about getting out of bed, and roll onto my other side.

6:15-6:30-Seriously consider getting out of bed, possibly get out of bed, and quickly return to bed.

6:35-6:40-Roll my eyes, check the time on my phone, realize that it is truly time to get out of bed.

6:40-7:07-Morning Routine

7:08-7:10-Head to the neighboring building/7-11/the bus stop in front of my building to wait for my carpool buddy

7:15-Leave the apartment community heading to school

7:22-Nearly die in the first roundabout, but somehow make it through to the next 5

7:30-Arrive at school

8:00-3:00-Mold the minds of my darling angels (who are sometimes demons)

3:03-Head to the fingerprint machine with my coworkers, administrators, and other staff to leave for the day

3:06-Wait on the traffic to be accommodating/Debo my way out of the parking lot to begin the trek home

3:20-Arrive at my flat (also known as apartment for us US people, LOL)

3:30-Walk into my flat; think about dinner; cook dinner; order dinner; skip dinner altogether

3:40-Scroll through the guide on my Firestick, and catch up on my favorite shows

3:50-8:00-Watch shows/hang out with friends/catch up with family at home

8:00-10:00-Begin counting sheep

My routine here is very different from the one I kept at home. For starters, I get to come straight home from work. School lets out at 3:00. By 3:10, the parking lot is a ghost town. Even administrators leave. Secondly, I am only 12-15 minutes (depending on traffic) away from my home. No hour long or longer (Lord forbid there be an accident on a Dallas freeway) to get from school to work. I can still make it home within the three o’clock hour, which never in life happened in Dallas. Thirdly, I only have one job here. No after school activities, evening adjunct classes, or anything. I literally have one job, and that one job is more than sufficient financially. I actually have a life that isn’t just work and going home only to repeat the routine the next day.

For those of you who really know me, you know how crazy hectic my life was at home. If my day ended 14 hours after it started, that was a good day. 18-19 hour day (which included teaching at the high school, sitting in traffic to go to my night job, teach a few classes, sit in traffic again to go home, and then finally make it home) was the norm. Here I have a more simpler life. The motto is if it didn’t get done today, Inshallah (If God Wills It), it will happen tomorrow. If not, no problem. The vast majority of people here do not stress over anything. They don’t take work home. When they’re at work, they’re at work. And when they’re at home with their families, they are at home with their families. There is a clear distinction between work life and home life, and the lines hardly (if ever) blur.

I needed this new way of life for my survival. For my sanity. For my well-being. For my peace. I was headed down a road of high blood pressure, continued obesity, and chaos, but thanks be to God that this door to teach overseas opened. Is everyday rosy? Nope. Are there day that I wonder why on earth I took this leap of faith? Yes. But when I think about the life that I am afforded now, and what the alternative of returning home right now would be, I hold my head up, stick my chest out, grit, and bear the bitter with the sweet.

I have something here that I never had before—balance—and I’m not letting it go anytime soon.