Home, after the most difficult year of my three years in Qatar.
When I woke up and looked out the window on the first morning back in California, and saw the blue sky I cried.
Who cries over blue sky? I’ve never heard of a such thing.
After 11 months of dust colored sky, dust colored ground, dust colored buildings and the worst dust storms in Qatar in the past 12 years, I am astounded to see color all around me and to see growing things. To see orange and lemon trees and lavender and rosemary and vegetables growing in the garden, to have pets around me and bare feet on the earth.
I keep thinking it will all be taken away from me. I keep thinking I’m about to be surrounded by harsh wind full of toxic particles and swirling dust and debris and maniacal drivers and grueling heat.
For the past three weeks there was the added desperation to drink water while dealing with traffic and heat and bureaucracy, but not being able to because it’s Ramadan.
I would check that there were no cops around and duck below the dashboard of my Pajero in order to sneak a gulp of water.
Then the inevitable swearing at the idiots storming through the roundabouts without looking, and arriving at my tower, past the African security, and the Filippino cleaners, to my apartment where there’s no garden, no pets and a view of dusty construction sites.
It was not a war zone, but still, for me, it was something to survive.
I suppose those of us born into a landscape as rich as California’s suffer more in a place so barren, so vanquished.
Qatar may, on paper, be the richest country in the world but with landscapes it’s the poorest place I’ve ever been. Its land and its air are like a corpse choking on dust.
Today I woke up thinking the orange and lemon trees out the window were not real, but rather, were fake ones created by the Emir.
I have yet to believe again in my own landscape.