• Aoife McHugh

A Joyful Jaunt in June

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

I penned this post in June last year so please allow me to administer an injection of context. The year was 2019, that delightful time when I could roam freely between Abu Dhabi and my Motherland. I traveled home four times during my first year in the UAE, for someone who doesn't play basketball I was still getting a lot of air. You could say this home-bird is a fervent fan of her native nest.

It is almost a year since I last graced that gloriously green island and I feel compelled to cite an old adage. "What a difference a year makes" used to be such a cliché, but really, who knew such hell could be raised in 365 days? Allow me to regale you with the tale of one particular trip home. This stemmed a mid flight musing on the little things I miss when I am living away. To paraphrase Barrett Browning: Oh Ireland, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

As I write this, I am currently 410 nautical miles off the Irish coast flaked across four seats on an Emirates plane. I am a little sleepy after a wonderful wedding, you could say my head is in the clouds. (I promise that’s the worst pun in this post.)

As I have passed through a few time zones en route to our idyllic Isle, it has set me thinking. Mainly about the importance of the seconds that tick by at a similar rate to our breathing or even our beating hearts. Motion that happens without a thought and I feel like I have a new found appreciation for time at home since I moved abroad. Particularly the hours I miss with all my faves. As difficult as this is, it also builds an unrivaled appreciation when you do get to spend quality time together. 

I have been living in Abu Dhabi for nine months now and I am quite partial to it. That’s not to say I don’t miss anything or even many things about home. I feel adequate time has passed (it’s substantial enough to hone a human being) in order to reflect on what I have loved and what I have missed since I moved from one distinctive biome (the bog) to another (the desert). 

The things that make my heart a little heavy: Quality time with family and friends. If you can pop in for a chat or visit them at the weekend. Have a coffee together and read the courts section of the local paper. Go for a wander through the local forest or amble along the banks of the river. You're very lucky. Shoot the breeze and breathe it in. Never take these things for granted. Fresh air. We had to leave saucepans around the apartment to quell the moisture sucking monster that is the AC. We have since acquired a humidifier but I cannot wait to step off this jet and invigorate my body with Irish air.  Missing special days. I appreciate the opportunity we have been given to live in another culture and explore all the amazing opportunities this presents us with, however living 4000 miles away means you cannot always rock up to important events. I am lucky that we had holidays this week but as a teacher I work much longer days and the holidays aren’t a patch on the Irish system. That being said, the financial incentive outweighs the time off because teachers are paid in equal measure in the UAE, which is a pleasant change! 

All in all, the decision to relocate has been a predominantly positive experience but it is always nice to come home. I’ll be humming the song from the Aer Lingus ad circa 1980 as I pass by the Poolbeg Chimneys on our descent into Dublin. My heart will hop a little harder as I see the front door of my house. (The Power Station in Lanesborough just hasn't achieved iconic status yet.) One thing is for sure, I will observe the clock and appreciate this time because I have realized what’s rare really is wonderful. 

Postscript: It was the best of times. 

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©2020 by Aoife Mchugh.