There is a coffee shop on the ground floor of my apartment building. There is another coffee shop/fancy-pants grocery in an adjacent building. There is a Starbucks across the street. Walk a block–less, really–and there is a Second Cup. A few more steps, and you’re at Special Cafe (nestled in the trees featured in this photo, actually).
This morning, I woke Noah so he could log on and do a video/IM chat check-in with his science teacher as prep for a test. I brewed my own cup of coffee and stepped out for a minute to “check the weather,” as I like to call it.
Perfect. Once the kids are through the writing and testing parts of the day, we’ll pack up the novels and head downstairs to the beach. Lit class, PE, environment, health. Vitamin D infusions surely qualify, right?
We’re everyday beach-goers. And I do mean every day. A day without beach time is incomplete for me. The beach was my comfort in Dubai. It was the place I could go and pace, unobstructed, for miles as I sifted and sorted through my thoughts. I could zoom out to the crash and roll of waves, zoom in to the breaking down of minute seashells into microscopic grains of sand. I observed life–seabirds, crabs, fish, jellies, locals, tourists and expats–in shades of white, purple, black, tan and blistery sunburned-magenta.
The Abu Dhabi beach on the Corniche side is different from our beach back in Dubai. It’s better-developed, with almost any amenity I could come up with (except wi-fi, which would be awesome but also probably terrible). I can get coffee, lunch, or ice cream. I can rent a lounger, an umbrella, or a cabana. Jet-skis. I can buy floaty toys. Lifeguards patrol–as in both sitting and walking!–the stretch. So does security. Potential creeps are warned by signs, and other signs very clearly outline expectations for dress, behavior, and safe use of the beach.
The sands here are sharper, not so soft as in Dubai. I have not yet seen a jelly, but fish zip in and out of the swimming areas (which are clearly demarcated with buoys, and lined by a no-use buffer zone for jet-ski safety). Seabirds also wheel above, and pigeons pace along the lapping waves. Thousands of tiny crabs serve as citizens of my children’s invented city-states built of sand and watery canals.
We made some sacrifices in order to have this daily contact with the beach, and I am thankful to my husband that he appreciates and values my wellbeing enough to prioritize sand and saltwater over a shorter commute or larger living space. We live in a small apartment now, not cramped by anyone’s standards, but far smaller than the Dubai villa was, and without (if I am honest) enough storage space to prevent my feeling a little like I live in a train station (piles of suitcases!). We can no longer use our gas grill, which was our primary means of cooking last year. Laundry is a bit of an issue.
But this is where we are now, and we’ll work out the management of small daily details as our stay advances. In the meantime, my old dearest here,
Persian Arabian Gulf beckons every day, and the kids work to finish their daily lessons with time to spare, so that we can all head out for wondrous and relaxing visits with her.