x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Good friends can put you in a dilemma

Hala Khalaf loves being married but longs for some time with her girlfriends.

I have a good friend who lives in Dubai, but I rarely get to see her. We have known each other for more than 15 years; we were good friends in high school, we remained good friends through our university years and we became even closer in our 20s. It has always been a nagging point of guilt that despite her being a mere 60 minutes' drive from me, on the outskirts of Dubai Marina, she might as well be a thousand miles away, considering how rarely we get to connect.

It's part of the whole meet-boy-fall-in-love-watch-world-turn-upside-down type thing that has resulted in me cocooning myself into a world where no one exists but Mr T and me. I never saw that coming; I was the girl who watched her girlfriends marry, watched them drift slowly away into a world that contained a husband but no "girls' night out", and vowed to never allow that to happen to me. How little I knew.

When I moved to the UAE, I expected to see my high school friend at least every weekend. The plan was simple: every Thursday, after work, I would drive to Dubai and crash at her place for the weekend. Every Saturday afternoon, I'd drag myself back to Abu Dhabi.

All promises dissolved on my second day in the UAE, when I happened to meet Mr T over a three-hour long coffee. I can count on one hand the number of times I spent a Dubai weekend with her. And of course when I did, Mr T was in tow.

I haven't lost my friends, but I have certainly lost touch with them. And these changes have spilled over into many different areas of my life. For example, I read a lot less than I used to. I would average at least two books a week. Now, two books a month is a lucky break. That's what happens when you meet a guy you like to spend time with as much as you enjoy an excellent novel, if not more.

That's not to say I don't sometimes miss my time to myself. I miss heading off somewhere without the accompanying guilt that my husband would rather have me hanging out with him, or the feeling that I'm missing some quality time laughing together. I miss shopping trips with a girlfriend who knows there's no way I'm going home without that pair of shoes that we both spotted at exactly the right moment.

So my exhilaration when my good friend decided to move from Dubai to Abu Dhabi could barely be contained. The anticipation has motivated me into finally getting our apartment into shape. We moved into it in October, and after a whirlwind month of decorating, have left it as is for the past five months. At the news that my friend will finally be close enough to have over for dinner, we have managed to find rugs, hang frames and find the perfect towels for our guest bathroom in less than two days.

Now if I can just find something to distract Mr T, I'll be just about ready to welcome some much needed girl-time in my life. Because as much as I love being with my husband, he's not exactly the right person to go and get a pedicure with.