We’re back in New York for the holidays – our first visit home since July, when we moved.  When we left Abu Dhabi last week, the malls were filled with Christmas: fake pine trees, over-wrapped gifts, and big statues of Santa, often just down the hall from the prayer rooms.  In New York, of course, nativity scenes and menorahs sometimes stand right next to each other in the parks but for some reason—perhaps because I’ve lived in New York for so long, I find the collision of menorahs, mangers, and Santa less jarring than the collision of call-to-prayer with ho-ho-ho.

We’ve been away from New York for five months and in many respects it’s as if we’ve never left: the same buildings are still under construction, the same sirens scream through the streets; the same lines form at Trader Joe’s during peak times.  I’m reunited with my beloved iPhone (which doesn’t work in Abu Dhabi) and like all the other New Yorkers, I walk through the streets making phone calls—after all, what could be more private than a busy Manhattan street? Our wonderful community of friends has carved out time for us in their hectic holiday schedules and our conversations seem to have picked up exactly where we left off last July.

Everything is just as it was.

And yet. We no longer have an apartment in the city, so we’re bouncing around: hotel, family, friend’s apartment (thank you Carey!).  The boys look wistfully at our old building and Caleb has asked more than once why we’re not going “home.”  I can still do the city-street hustle, but at the end of the day, I’m exhausted—I’m out of practice, I guess: my life in Abu Dhabi moves more slowly than my (former) life in Manhattan.

In lots of good ways, these past ten days have been a compressed version of our old lives—but the same downside still exists: Husband points out that once again, here we are in New York, where there is so much to see and do, and he ended up having to take the boys to see “Chipwrecked,” which he says may quite possibly be the worst, most cynical piece of film-making in the history of cinema.  In New York, there are a gazillion things to do and we used to be able to do about four of them; in Abu Dhabi there are only about twenty things to do, but we can manage twelve.

Hectic schedules and singing chipmunks aside, however, being here makes me homesick…for here. It’s a strange feeling, to be homesick in the place you call home.  Don’t get me wrong –I like our life in Abu Dhabi; I like the warmth and I’m fascinated by the complexities of modern Arabic life.  It’s where I live, but I’m not sure it’s home—so you know what’s happened?

What’s happened is that this entire visit has me channeling Neil Diamond, circa 1971. I’ve got about the same hairdo, actually, and a version of his eyebrows.  Who knows. Maybe I’m actually a Jew from Brooklyn. But in any case, Neil has it pegged: “LA’s fine but it ain’t home, New York’s home but it ain’t mine no more.”  Swap AD for LA, and Neil’s singing my Christmas tune.

photo source: http://www.portclydeme.com

click here to listen to Neil (and go ahead, sing along. You know you want to)

Neil and I are connecting this post to Erica’s lovelinks. You should click over, sing a bit, read around, then come back Wednesday night to vote.