A lot of stuff happened too quickly, too suddenly in the last couple of months. In December there were those two surgeries that left me feeling weaker, and changed me physically, which was discomforting. Later the same month we made a trip to Dubai and then onto Pakistan where I had to organize and execute three days of events over a course of two weeks. Then back to Jeddah for an exhibit and immediately off to New York, after which I had guests till the end of feb. And the moment my guests left, it was time to travel to London for the low residency.
What I’m trying to say is, I think when this last term ended, it left my slightly burnt out. Because this is just what was happening on the surface, there was so much more going on in terms of my art and my exposure and my exploration alongside simply, adulting and parenting three kids. I’m going to write blogposts just now to describe the other aspects of the journey. But for now, I travel back in time to end of February, when a very tired (from all of the above) me, not exactly feeling like her best self thanks to the surgeries, made the decision to travel to London, for the first time since 1998, by myself with a little baby.
Overcoming the fear of not being my best self when I first meet the people I have come to think so highly of, was easy. You see, I was dying to go! I did not want to miss out on this chance to experience the low residency. To meet these people and learn from them. More daunting was simply working out the logistics. And honestly, up until the last 48 hours I had NO IDEA how I would manage Ayla in all this madness. She couldn’t very well stay back since she was exclusively breastfed and Mohammad had a ton of work at work other than managing the house and Manahil and Rayyan’s schools (they were attending two different schools at the time). But as they say, where there is a will there is a way, and I found this amazing website which allowed us to hire certified babysitters for the day. Sure, it was a bit heavy on the pocket of a part-time digital influencer, but I think it was worth it, and it was the only way.
So… long flight, small baby, enough said. When we landed it was really cold for summer people like us. Ayla was incredibly tired but somehow I managed to lug her, the stroller and the suitcase to the parking lot and call an Uber. I had a momentary breakdown scare when I couldn’t find the Uber despite walking all over the parking lot with an exhausted, cold baby. But then I found it and we were on our way.
The ride from the airport to the hotel was REALLY long. Ayla slept which meant I’d have to stay awake with her later, hooray. But, you know we got there. We disembarked with this giant suitcase and I put Ayla in her stroller and we started looking for the hotel. Because, though the Uber had dropped us right at the location, it really wasn’t obvious where the door to the hotel was. Upon finding it, I realized we had to go up a flight of stairs to reach it, and it was physically impossible for me to carry all three things at the same time. Luckily, some girls were just heading out of the hotel and very kindly helped me get to the reception. And that is how I found myself in a tiny room, with a very tired baby, in a totally foreign country miles from home.