The first post-summer friend
One of the things I look forward to when I come back from my summer holidays is seeing friends and familiar faces again. But it’s not as easy as it sounds, even when you live in a reasonably small community with a central shopping area, like I do: most expats won’t resurface until school starts. Pottering around my compound can feel post-apocalyptic in the burnt-out fag-end of a Dubai summer – the buildings are there, but the people are not.
So I find myself, in the last two weeks of the school summer holidays, twitchily searching the supermarket, the nail salon, the mall, even the traffic jams for a familiar face.
Sad, isn’t it?
I always wonder who it’s going to be, that first person that I see, stop and chat to (aside from the smiley supermarket security guard, whom I practically hugged when I first saw). That first person I meet gets the details of the whole summer – the ins, the outs and the shake-it-all-abouts; by the time school starts, I’ve reduced my patter to “yeah, great, thanks – you?”
Well, today my first post-summer friend happened. And it wasn’t a fellow school mum, or even a resident of my own compound. It was my lovely friend who writes Circles in the Sand.
We greeted each other like long-lost cousins before exchanging a summer’s worth of chit-chat on the baking asphalt of the supermarket car park (flights, jet lag, children, summer camps). I’d noted already that it was 45C.
As we talked, I could feel my feet burning in the sun. My face became wet with sweat, followed by my hairline. I examined my friend’s face for signs of heat exhaustion (none), then threw a quick thought to the yoghurt gently coming to the boil in the car boot (and decided to get another one).
We talked more (gardens, the National Trust, the cost of school uniforms, blogs, writers’ block, obese children, internet trolls). A drop of sweat made a slow, tickly descent from somewhere on my thigh out of the bottom of my shorts, past my knee and on, down my calf. I wiped it with a sweaty hand, and we carried on talking for another 10 minutes (entertaining kids in the heat, movies, the pros of having a pilot for a husband). My flip-flops literally stuck to the floor as the soles began to melt (I made that up, but it was easy to believe).
Neither of us, it seemed, wanted to end the chat, and I take it as a compliment – as should Circles – that we both managed this feat of human endurance in order to enjoy a little friendly contact in the deserted compound. Congrats, Circles – you’re my First Post-Summer Friend of 2013. Welcome back!