There was something missing in my life. There was giant hole in the corner of my periphery that could not be filled. That was until recently. But to the dismay of my fiancée, it was not her. What was missing was a reclining brown chair that now sits comfortably in the corner of my living room. And oh, how snug it is.
When I got back to Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago I knew I had to start creating some mental space to afford me some sanity in this wild desert world of Abu Dhabi I live in. Between the cars, the construction, and the street-walking feral cats, your stability is sometimes a camel’s breadth away from crumbling. That is of course unless you find things to combat such decay.
Some people here Brunch. Yes, capital letter B. It’s intense. You pay anywhere between 100 and 600 dirhams for an all you can eat and drink buffet, usually on a Friday. It starts around 12 pm in the afternoon and can last into the wee hours of the evening. I tried it once and it nearly ate me alive. I barely escaped its grasp. Luckily, it only demolished my weekend. Could’ve been much worse.
Others here shop. It is quite possible to go a full 365 days buying something from a different retailer in a different mall every day and not scratch the surface of your buyer’s capacity. From Dior to Dunkin Donuts, you can buy pretty much anything and everything here… except peace. For that, I had to look elsewhere. Where? A British man’s living room.
I saw his ad on Dubizzle, a Craigslist like site in the UAE, and I followed up. Turns out he was moving back to the UK and was getting rid of most everything. Including a VERY soothing recliner and ottoman that I nearly couldn’t depart from when I relaxed my cheeks in it for the first time. After prying myself free and loading it into my new Peugeot hatchback rental, I asked him one last question. “How long have you been here?” He replied, “37 years”. Whaaaaaaaaaaa…..t?
This man, who was in his mid-fifties, had survived in a country that in the last 40 years went from a tent strewn oasis to a booming Middle East economical and tourism hub. He had experienced some of the most frustrating and inconveniencing periods of growth that anyone from a first world country might experience as the UAE expanded at rapid rates, and through it all, he had stayed.
I didn’t ask further but I’m pretty sure it was all because of this chair. Well, technically the chair was a gift from his wife 3 years prior, but still. This comfy brown chair touched the bottom of the man whose bottom had probably touched more seats than any foreign born individual in this country… history was in that seat.
But enough about his rear-end, let’s talk about mine. I got the chair home, placed it in its preordained spot, parked my rump in its warm embrace, and put my feet up. As I pulled that lever that sent me sprawling backwards, a small part of my sanity clicked back in place, and I sighed, “Ahhhhhhh. My chair.”
The chair alone won’t afford me the peace and calm that is necessary when dealing with such continuous changes and challenges. But like that lovely little British man, sitting in that chair does seem to make the passage of time a bit more leisurely. I look out my window on the 25th floor of my apartment building and I can feel the crazy slowly melt away.
Next up: A desk… and I’m building it.