Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hillary Clinton Signed My Marriage License

Bob is driving when a passenger van cuts us off.
 
Bob: Where you going, Dude?
 
Me:  Do you talk to the road even when you're alone in the car?
 
Bob:  Of course.
 
So many cars.  So many people.  And it's all my fault.
 
I am the expat spouse.
 
Our marriage license required validation by our county, state and federal governments
plus Hillary Clinton's signature before I could join Bob in Doha
 
There are more hard hats than thobes, jeans than abayas in Qatar.  And for each hardworking foreign resident, there are one to five errand-running, school-attending, road-clogging family members.
 
expat families come in all nationalities, colors, shapes and sizes
this is not an expat family, courtesy Microsoft ClipArt
 
We're the shoppers, home administrators.  We chase kids' activities, coordinate household staff, arrange for car repairs, pick up laundry and dry cleaning, order take out ("take away"), find (the right) light bulbs (no small task).  If we need the car, we shuffle him/her (in Doha, usually a "him") to work and pick him up in the evening - although it's true that we often have our own car…and a driver too.
 
If we're not in the car, there's someone on the road for us: teachers, personal trainers, doctors, nurses, mall staff, Carrefour sackers, spa attendants, cleaning crews, water trucks.
 
From September to May, things are pretty crazy in Doha, what with all of the running, doing, hurrying about.  Then comes summer, when we pack up the little ones and head to cooler temperatures…sometimes straight from the last day of school.
 
Even though it means more traffic, congestion, lines at the mall…Qatar loves (Fall)* when the families come back.
 
We're housed in villas and resorts beside blue water pools.  There are schools, spousal support groups, clubs, gyms, children's events, sporting activities, all created just for us.
 
Restaurants feature family sections where diners must be accompanied by a woman.  Single men are not allowed in some malls on family day.  And then, of course, there's Family Friday, when related groups gather at the park, food court, mosque.
 
It's nice to have families around.  Especially when (one is) missing grown kids and grandbabies.  (Pause for sniffle.)  Enduring six-day work weeks full of paper, meetings, job site visits, paper, meetings, job site visits…  Or waiting 40 minutes for an appointment that doesn't happen, unanswered phone calls and emails, and postponed, cancelled, difficult to obtain meetings.  When marathons are advertised one day in advance, Tom-Jones-was-here-yesterday and three frustrating attempts to ride the DohaBus.  Strange food, tv shows, Doha time.  Which brings us back to the crazy making traffic:
 
A four door car straddles the line in front of us.  A trucker guns his engine, honks his horn, creates a lane between us and the barrier.
 
trucks in a row
 
Bob speaks with an edge but no expression. (Gestures perceived as rude are punishable violations.)

Bob:  Don't you see the red light?  Turning or going straight?  What's your rush?  Merge. Merge. Merge-merge-merge-merge!
 
When a sedan with black windows cuts us off at a stacked roundabout, we come to a stop.  Bob sighs, reaches over the console and wraps his warm fingers around my hand.
 
"Awww," I say.  "Aren't you sweet."
 
He shakes his head at the semi inching its way into a 6-inch space.
 
"No," he says.  "I'm afraid."
 
Funny guy.
 
We're living a dream:  an interesting job, opportunity to learn about a language, culture, way of life different from our own - plus a lifetime's worth of exotic honeymoons.
 
But the best part?  Being together.
 
 
*The word "Fall" is used euphemistically to outline a general time of year from the perspective of our family in Missouri, USA: the period beginning approximately early September to December, when trees transform from lush multi-hued green to a brilliant cascading display of reds, yellows, pinks, purples.  Temperatures drop.  One day it's shorts and tee shirts, the next it's sleeves and running pants.  Then sweaters, scarves, hats and jackets until Winter brings crisp air, snowsuits, sleds, and Barnes and Noble Cafe's peppermint hot chocolate.
 
Of course there is no "Fall" as such here in Doha which will one day soon switch from muggy, humidity fogged Summer to flowers, blue skies and beach sun Winter.
 
up soon: Winter in Doha
 
All of which is lovely in its own way.
 
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