x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Starring in home alone

After years of sharing flats and houses, it's time to go solo - but I doubt I'll have such fascinating stories to tell.

My domestic odyssey might well be over. In only three years in the UAE, I've managed to live in four villas, two apartments and a couple of hotels.

It's not that I'm smelly (I don't think), or antisocial or a tad too enthusiastic with the communal milk. I just get restless very easily when in the same house for too long, and whenever life in Dubai wears a bit thin, there's nothing like moving house to recharge my fondness for the place.

Dubizzle has been my guiding light in this nomadic house surf. Along the way, I've lived with an Egyptian bodybuilder, grizzly sailors, a reiki master and one of the most visibly indulgent exponents of plastic surgery I've ever met.

I've had highs (the bougainvillaea that spilled over the white garden walls in our Satwa villa), and lows (the old speakers of a mosque next door that made my windows rattle so hard during the call to prayer that I'd wake up terrified the house was falling down) and absurdities (a Romanian flatmate who cranked the AC until you could see your breath in the mornings).

After all that, finally, I think I'm bedding in for a while.

I've become tired of all the things that make shared living such an - ahem - scream. I don't want to make small talk about the stir-fry I'm trying to cook. I don't want to have to care anymore if a handful of water manages to sneak its way past the shower curtain and on to the floor. I also want to be able to wail in the shower again.

Hitting the three-year mark has made this all the more pressing. Having your name on an electricity bill is a life hurdle that one, sooner or later, has to stumble over.

But as I turned the key to my own little studio for the first time, very grateful for the space, silence and good view, I couldn't help but feel I'm walking away from a gold mine of decent stories. See, I've quickly realised that 95 per cent of the anecdotes that make fine ice-breaking fodder centre around the myriad folk I have happened to break bread with over the past 36 months.

Like the Egyptian bodybuilder who decided to swan-dive on to his bed and broke it when we needed to sell it the next day. Or the American photographer who, left alone over the holidays, spraypainted crude seagulls all over the living room walls. Or the potential tenant that we interviewed for a room, who communicated with us solely through a translator.

I'm convinced I'll never know my neighbours as intimately as I did this hilarious cast. There's a certain finality to going it alone that's a bit daunting - where do I go once the restlessness kicks in again?

But I do know this: I'm singing in the shower again, so here's to flying solo. Well, for a bit, anyway.