Yep, it's official. Tomorrow afternoon I am once again making the journey halfway around the world to my company's offices in Dubai. That rapidly-growing city is in the process of constructing an urban rail network, and I've been called over to assist in station planning efforts. This will require me to be in Dubai for most of the next three months, although I have planned short trips back to Houston in early September and mid-October to take care of work and family obligations here.
This has all developed with such suddenness that my head is still spinning. It wasn't until Tuesday morning that I discovered they wanted me there this weekend, and I've spent the last couple of days rearranging my schedule (I don't have to attend those meetings in Dallas next week, obviously) and tying up loose ends at work so as to make this trip possible. There was also the minor issue that I didn't even have a valid passport in my possession on Tuesday; I had gone to renew it a few weeks ago but had to call the State Department to get the process expedited and the document overnighted once I learned the details of this trip. And I still need to pack!
I have mixed feelings about the trip. On the one hand, Dubai is an amazing city; I enjoyed being there in January and I'm sure I'll have a good time on this trip as well. While I'm there, I'm going to be gaining valuable experience on a project that interests me, and it will all end up looking good on my resume.
On the other hand, I will be away from Lori and Kirby for all but three or four of the next fourteen weeks. That's going to create hardship for Lori, who will have to take care of the house and the kid by herself (although she will get help from my family as well as her family). Being away from family and from home is probably going to make me a little anxious myself. (And this is just for a few months with periodic trips back home; I can only imagine the hardship that soliders shipped off to Iraq for a year or longer and their families are facing.)
The ongoing fighting involving Israel and Hizbollah as increased anti-American sentiment in the Arab world, which could make me a target for verbal abuse or, at the very least, nasty stares. And today's news about a foiled terrorist plot to blow up transatlantic flights isn't exactly comforting for me, one day before I fly through KLM's hub at Amsterdam.
But the worst thing about this trip is this: I'm going to miss almost all of football season! In a year that has the Houston Cougars playing seven home games (and eight games in the city of Houston), I'm only going to be able to be able to watch two or thee of them and that's only if I can arrange my short trips back to Houston to coincide with the games. That sucks! I spend the entire year waiting for college football season, and work-related obligations are going to cause me to miss it! I probably won't be able to watch any games from over there on TV due to the time difference and the fact that the ESPN and Fox Sports channels in Dubai are more likely to show cricket matches than they are American college football games anyway!
Of course, I didn't have to agree to this trip. I could have said "no, thanks" to the request without adversely affecting my job security. So why did I agree to go out there, and choose to put my work ahead of my family and my passion for college football? Quite honestly, I've asked myself the same thing once or twice over the last couple of days. But it comes down to this: by biting the bullet right now, I'm setting myself up for a better future. The fact that the folks in Dubai think highly enough of my abilities to specifically ask for me; the fact that I agreed to this assignment on a couple of days' notice; the fact that I completely re-arranged my schedule to make it happen are all things that my supervisors are going to remember when it comes time for raises and promotions, and that will benefit not only myself but Lori and Kirby as well.
Besides, I like Dubai. In fact, I think I'm going to try to fly Lori out there sometime in November, so she can see the city for herself as well.
Anyway, I'll try to maintain this blog while I'm away, mixing my thoughts on the coming football season with regular reports about my life and other goings-on in The City of Gold. I expect to be back in Houston in time for the first football game of the year (Houston vs Rice at Rice Stadium on September 2nd), but my travel schedule could change.