Remember those days when summer couldn’t come fast enough? In a time long past, I counted days, minutes, seconds, until school was done and I could spend three glorious months in a blissful, oblivious state of freedom. While my choice of activities ranged from pruning myself in our neighbor’s pool and hours spent riding my horse at age 10, to motorcycles, boys and lakeside beers in the sweltering Oklahoma heat at age 16, I was never more excited than I was for the days when my choices were (mostly) mine.
Seasons were the norm for most of my early adult life in Utah, and trudging through an icy, snowy winter brought me happily to spring and summer, and contemplatively into fall and adulthood. I loved different aspects of each season, skiing in the winter, hiking and camping in the spring and summer, and picking my stunned jaw up from the ground during the color riot that is autumn in the Wasatch Mountains.
However, after a few years spent living in New Orleans, I realized that cold weather was not really my thing. Mild winters felt so incredibly delicious that I couldn’t imagine ever willingly placing myself into a freezing environment again.
So I moved to Hawaii.
Then to Taiwan.
Then to coastal Peru.
In none of those places was anything more than a jacket or sweater ever required during the winter months, and as my skin went dark and my hair went light, I felt as if I had found the climate my kind was meant to reside in.
Then we made another move.
To Abu Dhabi.
Now, I didn’t have my head in the proverbial sand prior to this move. I have a good working knowledge of geography and climate science. I knew it was going to be hot. But seeing 50+ degrees (125+ degrees fahrenheit) on paper and having it slap you ruthlessly in the face on a June day are two totally separate things. The heat here is unlike anything I have ever experienced. It is inhumane in its brutality.
During the height of the Middle Eastern summer, I don’t really know what outside looks like. Or what fresh air smells like. Or what sunshine on my shoulders feels like. I lurk indoors, whether it’s a mall, my home, a restaurant, or even an air conditioned parking garage (yes, those exist here). In those moments between my front door, the car and my final destination, I am covered from head to toe in clothing, hats and sunscreen, so much so that I have fleeting concerns about rickets due to the complete and utter lack of Vitamin D that reaches my skin.
Even sunset, which generally signals a daily reprieve from the heat in most parts of the world, is very different in the desert. The dust that chokes the skies generally makes for a brilliantly colored sunset, but venturing outside to see it is an exercise in stupidity. The heat takes my breath away just as much as the blood streaked, cloudless sky does. As the sun retreats, the humid air advances with a one-two punch to the idea that “it’s a dry heat”, further dashing any hopes we may have had for a barbecue, a drink out on the patio, or any sort of life outside of our villa.
What’s a girl to do? Well, I wait. I wait for the Ramadan holiday so we can escape to blissfully cool Europe. I wait for late October when the heat retreats and leaves four or five months of “winter” that are so divine I understand why people grudgingly tolerate the rest of the cruel, cruel year. I wait for those weekends during the height of the heat, when we trade our dark, air conditioned cave of a house for something a little bit fancier.
This weekend is one of those of those weekends. We are going to the exquisite St. Regis Hotel and Spa at Saadiyat Island. It’s only about 15 minutes from our house, but feels worlds away, with sublime swimming pools and a beautiful beach on acres and acres of gorgeously landscaped grounds.
But you’ll likely find me in the bar, sipping an ice cold beer and gazing out the tinted windows at the bright blue Arabian Gulf.
It’s too damn hot outside.