I’ve always imagined a part of my brain contains an empty/full gauge when feeling the urge to lay eyes upon something my brain has not created a memory for yet. I want to run outside and capture a new memory. Consistency is sometimes a dreadful thing when everything in you craves for progress. My Dad taught me a lot about embracing an ever changing environment and living like you have been there before. What I mean is that you are not hesitant in the least bit to try or experience what is in front of you once you reach your destination. My Dad lived in Dubai and here our desert journey began. We interacted on different levels that were not typical for a Father and son. We conversed about any subject that broached the edge of our minds and took the conversation wherever our curiosity drove it. While I was attending my University in Rome, Italy, I planned to visit my Dad on a holiday week in November. Luckily this was winter in Dubai and temperatures only reached 100 degrees fahrenheit (about 37C)… Better pack a sweater.
Once I arrived, I pushed my way through the local mix of taxi drivers; Indians, Filipinos, Arabs, and Europeans. There was such a diversity that I never expected once arriving in an Arab country. The United Arab Emirates was not a normal Arab country though. There are so many levels of intrigue, adventure, and cultural diversity in this small, extravagant country. Dubai is considered the ‘Las Vegas’ of the Middle East. I always hated hearing that description because it is a gross over statement of this decadent city that was planned with precision. The city hardly adorns neon lights to its buildings or prides itself on sin or welcomes wasteful spending on chance. Dubai calls on its visitors to appreciate the opulence. While driving through the city with the top down on the convertible, buildings of every color and shape whizzed by my line of sight; green, silver, blue. It truly is a city that could be any architect’s muse.
Later in the week I asked my Dad what else I could experience that I’ve never done before. We had already played golf, swam in the Persian Gulf, toured through extravagant malls of gold, and had drinks at night to soak in the glittered skyline. My Dad looked up from his coffee and said, “The desert.. We’ll go to the desert. The silence and sand is something you won’t be able to explain when you get back to your friends.” I sort of laughed after hearing that statement. How can someone not explain sand.. I’ll just show them the picture of a few dunes and I’m sure they can utilize their own brains to conjure a made up vision of a desolate desert.
We drove out of the city for about an hour or more. The more the lines on the road passed by our spinning tires, the less it seemed like we were anywhere close to civilization. My Dad nudged me and said that we had arrived. I looked up and saw absolutely NOTHING! I said, “Where?” It’s just about all I could say. I was in shock at the vast nothingness. We pulled off into the sand and I felt the SUV sink into the ground. I adjusted myself in my seat as if we were going to take on water or something. What a strange feeling it was. My Dad’s friends pulled up along side of us and shouted to follow straight behind in their tracks. Driving over the mountains of sand was invigorating and in a way like floating down a river! When our SUV stopped after about an hour of driving, the quiet crept into my body. It’s extremely difficult to explain that sort of silence. I could feel and SEE the silence. It was as if someone had put those noise canceling head phones on my head and held them tightly against the sides of my face. Someone spoke and it cut through the silence. As my Dad and I walked away from the group, he looked over as I squinted through the desert sun and just smiled. I wanted to say something to him about all the experiences he has given me, but I thought a smile was enough. He gave me that Fatherly side hug and said, “Glad you came. It feels like home when we’re together.” At that moment two camels came walking over the ridge of the dune and slowly lurked passed us. One was larger than the other and in my mind I labeled them father and son. Those camels sort of explain my relationship with my Dad in that we wandered life’s tragedies, rewards, and experiences together. It was silent sometimes, but we loved the feeling of togetherness. A walk through life’s deserts provides a connection between two individuals more so than times of joy. Being able to walk along somebody and know you can count on them to be by your side in especially difficult times is a gift no one can replicate. He passed away last summer and I miss him more than I can put into words. It was his birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday Dad.
My Dad and I found something sweet out there. I describe it as, ‘Our dessert in the desert.’