How I re-learned the importance of blood when trying to grow roots.
“It will be Ramadan. And it will be really hot. And we don’t have any furniture.”
I feel obliged to give these warnings, in spite of how much I want to welcome my parents here. Undeterred, they book the flight, an air B&B, and they land in Dubai around midnight on a muggy night in May.
Life being what it is, J finds himself in the UK not due to return until 24 hours after my parents’ arrival. This means that my Mum and Dad will be making the journey from Dubai alone in a cab: I feel sick at the thought, both with worry that they’ll find their way to Ras Al Khaimah and shame that their going above and beyond to visit is rewarded with their anonymous arrival in an airport that is alien to them.
While they are somewhere over India, the boys and I head over to their holiday accommodation. We retrieve the key from under the doormat and fumble for the light switch which, once found, reveals the tiniest of living spaces.
That feeling of shame rises again — it is very small here. Plus, in the time between them booking this place and now, we have acquired beds and a sofa. The oven should arrive shortly after my parents do.
I push the shame to one side, acknowledge that we are where we are, and I survey the place through less emotional eyes.
There is an undeniable sense of homeliness in this bijou space. This could be down to the Arabic decor. Or it could be down to the food and welcoming gifts that the boys are currently arranging with great care and consideration. It could just be a feeling, born from the anticipation of knowing that the studio flat will soon be filled with familiar things and family.
Because my parents’ arrival coincides with warm weather and a reflective, quiet time of year, it seems somehow as if our time is set together in slow motion. After the chaos of the last few months, I am grateful for this peace but it also gives me too much time to linger on a little melancholy that has crept into the space between J and I.
Without ever discussing inner states of mind, our visitors seem to arrive fully equipped with a protective netting: it wraps itself around our predicament and it gives us time and space to grow a little closer together.
For the first time since arriving in the UAE, familiar family routines resume. From these routines appear new tendrils which creep and stretch and wrap themselves around us and connect us a little more to our new environment.
The presence of my parents gently pats down tiny new roots into this strange, sandy soil. By the time they leave, we all of us feel more secure.