I have a friend coming for a visit.
Well, technically, she’s swinging through town on a layover. No, not technically. Really. In fact, she will be on UAE non-airport soil for, at most, about 12 hours. But that’s good enough for a few hours of very efficient visiting, right? And breakfast before she continues on her way.
Actually, September is set to be a Month of Great Visits. Short visits, every one of them, but lined up quite nicely. First, Amy, just for a quick layover on her way to Africa to trek a very, very big hill. Then, while Amy’s in Africa being fabulous, my big sister is coming! Just for a week, mind you, because it’s not easy for a mother with a bustling household of six children (six! children!) to take even one day off. But I’ll be so happy just to see her face, and so will my two kids, and the husband, too–if he’s in the country, anyway–that we’ll forgive her the short stay.
Then, almost like a miracle, just as I will be weepy and working hard to achieve the above-described forgiveness, like God from the Machine, Amy will once again descend to the tarmac of DXB, this time for more than 24 hours. Not a lot more, but still. Who gets to hear all about Kilimanjaro over fancy coffee drinks and/or double-apple shisha? Why, I do.
And, get this: my sister has no expectations for her visit. Yeah, you read right. A woman 1) writes a week’s worth of instructions for a household with 6 kids (in 4 schools) for her (accountant) husband (but I mean that in a really nice way. I do.); 2) packs a suitcase almost entirely with stuff for my family, including things sent along by others; 3) spends at least 15 hours in the sky (I did this, and was ready to beg for a parachute over Turkey)…and then has no list of things she wants to see, do or achieve, besides a lot of hugging, talking, listening, and looking at our faces. Who wouldn’t be excited about such a visitor?
And Amy’s already been to Dubai; she’s become such the adventure traveler, anyway, that I could text her and tell her to meet me at the place that sells giant Moroccan-style lanterns in the garden section at Dragon Mart, and she’d be all, “Sure, hon, what time?” It wouldn’t surprise me if she came up with some ideas for things I could do and see to pass the time.
I’m also excited because the weather forecast seems to be suggesting that, while Amy’s here overnight, it might, it could, it’s possible, that the temperature could stay under 100F. Like 0.4F below 100, but still. And it could happen. With lows well below 90F. For just a day, two if I’m really lucky, but still. It’s starting to hint at autumn, another much-anticipated visitor. No, she won’t come smelling like oak, moss and smoke of burning piles of yardwork. She won’t carry a watery blue sky against bleached-out cornstalks or plowed-under stubble, but she’ll shorten our daylight and eventually bring temperatures down to tolerable. She’ll give us the opportunity to explore the city for long hours on foot, rather than the furtive darting we do now, ducking from the sun and chasing chilly drafts out the storefronts.
And with autumn comes a new routine, one of school buses and homework, after-school activities and early bedtimes. No doubt there will be business trips, perhaps an occasional coffee morning for me. The chance to meet people. Perhaps make a friend, an acquaintance, a business contact.
The tourists will start to flock in and the city, its beaches and sleek, twinkling high-rises will swell. Shisha smoke will billow and crowd the cafe tables on the Walk. People will hang in mid-air, gliding behind boats along the shore. Their faces, shining with delight at new discoveries every moment, will serve to highlight what’s amazing, what’s beautiful, what’s worthy of notice, and pull me from the summer stupor that comes from twenty weeks of insufferable heat. I’ll study them, their smiling and pointing, their happiness at little wonders–shawarma sandwiches, warm sunshine, the waves of the Arabian Gulf–and emulate the happiness until at least some of it feels real.