Green is the color of greed; the color of Capitalism. It can also be the color of plenitude; the color of nature; the color of peace. Southern Ontario is spoiled. Because of its rich landscapes. Its curvatures. Its muscular skeleton called the Canadian Shield. It’s a hard land with hard people brought up in the cold, coping with dark winter days and cold draughts. Its greens turn white and grey in the blink of an eye.
While in Kuwait, I craved green spaces, an outdoor space that wasn’t littered with empty plastic water bottles or waste; a place under a tree with grass beneath. It was hard to come by. So I started going to the public beach in Salmiya. It too was a wasteland: Cheetos wrappers, bottle caps, glass. But I made the most of it. I would find a patch of sand, plop my backpack down, and head into the sea. Even after December water temperatures dropped below 20 Celsius, I would find my way to the beach, to the water, to what I considered as close to purity as possible.
More than five years removed from first venturing to Kuwait, I now find it hard to be anywhere (for any amount of time) without ocean, sea, or lake nearby. Land somehow seems unstable. I can never quite get my footing.
I suppose, in part, this is why I chose to rest my laurels in Abu Dhabi over central China or someplace else. And I suppose, in part, this is why I live in a small studio in Abu Dhabi City (near the Corniche) rather than a one-bedroom villa apartment (on the outskirts of the city) with only sand in sight.
I’ve come to not only love open water – I’ve come to depend on it. In spite of the temperature being plus-45 degrees this past August, I would still find myself waking up at 6 am, walking to the beach, going for swim, and walking back home. Needless to say there were many days when I was the only soul in sight (aside from beach security and a lifeguard hiding out in the air-conditioned pop-up washroom).
Flash forward and it’s the end of October. In Southern Ontario, the trees are turning. The chill is coming. And here I am, at a resort in Mafraq, Abu Dhabi; in the U.A.E. What brought me here is no longer particularly relevant. The question has become if or when I’ll ever return to the colder climes of a country I considered home for the better part of two decades. It’s a problem for another day. Right now, the sun in setting. The smell of barbecued skewers is wafting. And there’s a swimming pool one floor down calling my name.
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