Lingering in a waiting room

I suppose all of us knew that massive cuts were inevitable at some stage. Still, the absence of news directly pertaining to us in the days, weeks, and months that have gone by since operations came to a halt, have some days felt like sheer despair, and some days like nothing but an emotional vacuum of not knowing. I’m sure several of you can relate to this.

I believe it’s safe to claim that even if we came here for one year, three years, or even longer, Dubai was always just a form of waiting room ahead of something else. An interlude for what was always supposed to come next. It doesn’t matter if it was just a chance to see the world before committing to family life, or a professional stopover before pursuing a career within your field of education, or the last adventure before moving back home to open up your own enterprise. Maybe coming here was an escape from something. Maybe coming here was an escape towards something. We all have had such different reasons for ending up here, and hearing all about them has for me personally always been a favorite topic of conversations sitting on the jumpseat.

Yes, Dubai was always just a waiting room, but perhaps down the years some of us simply forgot that it was. Perhaps that’s also why everything that’s happening around us right now is much harder to deal with than we ever thought that it would. For me, I’ve gotten so accustomed to seeing people come and go in and out of my life that I have sometimes asked myself what good does it really do to a person to live like that. To constantly have to invite perfect strangers into your life, get attached to them, and then with or without warning suddenly having to wave them off to new adventures. It’s a way of living that doesn’t compare to much else.

I can’t think of another place where the rotation of people is so high, and I also don’t think it’s normal. But, nonetheless, it’s a lifestyle we’ve adjusted to, and somehow we’ve made it work for us. I know I also speak for everyone reading this that we all have friends we would never have found, wouldn’t it have been for these extreme circumstances in which we are each other’s survival. Maybe some would say that relationships here are more disposable in certain ways than back home, wherever that is, but maybe they also have another form of depth, simply because they’ve had to. When you don’t have your family around you need to create one, and even if it’s not the same, we know that our support systems down here are what has saved us through the lows and cheered us on through the highs.

Regardless if you received the notice to leave or not, we’re at a stage where all of us already know someone that will be leaving Dubai in the weeks to come. In one way or another, we’ve all been touched by ongoing events, and for many of us, the feeling of loss is insurmountable. Beyond the loss of income and sense of meaninglessness in a time of global strife, lives are uprooted irrespective if you stay or if you go. The ones who get to stay have little insight into what our work will be like once we return to it, and I think the one thing we all have in common is that we have to start over in one way. A new job, a new house, or new friends. I do not know what is worse, or most important, or most acute. I guess it’s different for everybody, and that’s perfectly fine.

I won’t say something about when a door closes another one opens. Several people before me have articulated this in better, more heart-warming ways than I’d never been able to do. But I will say this, it’s not always a bad thing to have certain decisions made for you as opposed to by you. To be forced to think in ways you’d never have had the courage while it was still an option, not the option, is probably what has worked the most miracles in any time of hardship.

I wish I knew when, but it will.