Friday, November 23, 2012
A Different Kind of Thankful...
I do believe this Thanksgiving was the worst Thanksgiving I have ever had. I ended up going to the Rotana hotel for dinner with two other teachers and one of the teacher's teenage son. Neither of the teachers are American, so the emotional significance that this day holds for me was probably lost in translation somewhere. But, I also know they went out of friendship and caring for me.
The restaurant served turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes, but that was about all that was even a bit like traditional American Thanksgiving food. At one point during the meal I looked around, saw a room full of complete strangers milling about and felt like the most alone person on the face of the planet, never mind the fact that I was sitting at the table with three people I have known since almost the day I arrived in the U.A.E. They still weren't my family.
I thought about last Thanksgiving when dad was still home, still able to walk, communicate a little, and eat unassisted. True, not many of the family were able to attend, but it was enough. Dad had sat in his usual place at the head of the dinner table, but I didn't know that would be the last time he would ever preside over a family holiday meal. That day seems like a million years ago, and then again it seems like yesterday. Last year's Thanksgiving conversation had been family conversation about common stories, knowledge, experiences. The food had been prepared by hands that I knew and loved. A bond of blood held everyone together that day.
All these thoughts and more started running through my head and heart during the meal at the Rotana last night. My throat constricted, tears welled in my eyes and I couldn't blink for fear they would spill over and then everyone would stare at me, and then I would completely and totally lose the last shreds of my composure and cause a scene. So, I started chatting on about John Kennedy, talking to my friend's teen boy about the band System of a Down.. anything to distract myself. The conversation was stilted and uncomfortable, I knew. I also knew I was talking too much and too little. I knew I was not talking about appropriate dinner topics, but I couldn't seem to stop myself. The friend's teen boy and the other teacher started picking on one another, trading insults and verbal jabs. It felt too real, too much like real conflict, none of which I needed due to my already overworked emotional state. After the meal we waited thirty minutes for the waiter to bring us the check, finally paid, made our way back across Al Ain in the normal crazy traffic, and my friends dropped me off.
I rushed into my building, shut the door to my apartment, and cried for two hours straight
The entire night ended up costing 169 dirham (about $46.00 US dollars). I actually paid good money for the worst Thanksgiving I have ever experienced..
But I am thankful that three people made the effort to be with me on this holiday. Maybe that should be enough.
Posted by Liti