I was watching TV. The only English-language station played reruns of The Partridge Family, Gilligan's Island, M*A*S*H, and All In The Family every afternoon. For me, at 15, living in Qatar, that was my so-called life.
We'd been in Qatar only since January - three months. We moved from Taiwan. Before Taiwan was Indonesia. Before that Kenya, Latvia, New Zealand... We moved a lot. No, my dad wasn't in the military - it was his business.
Taiwan had been pretty good. We'd lived there for almost two years. My sister, Janet, was sure she was going to be able to finish high school there. No luck. At Christmas, Dad called a family meeting and announced that we were moving in 3 weeks. The color drained from my sister's face. "No, no, no!" she shrieked.
Janet screamed. She cried. I seriously thought she was going to murder Dad. She begged to be able to stay in Taiwan. She pleaded. She slammed doors. She broke plates.
Really, I could understand. Qatar would be her fourth high school on the third continent. And she'd have to leave behind her friends (again), and her boyfriend - her first serious boyfriend - Dan. And going to a new high school just for second semester of senior year was going to be tough.
Valerie was swinging away in her back yard on a swing her father made out of a car tire. Each breeze that came from swinging made her long golden hair fly everywhere. She wore her short little blue jean shorts and a whitetank top. She wore two small braids on each side of her face to keep her long hair from getting in her eyes. She was glad it was finally summertime. That meant no school, no homework, and no more waking up early.
It was extremely hot that summer day. It was still early in the day and her parents were at work, leaving her alone with her grandmother, who took care of Valerie and her brother Tommy while Mom and Dad were at work. Since Valerie was only 14 and Tommy 16, they didn't really need a guardian to watch them over the summer, but grandmother's presence gave their parents peace of mind. The siblings didn't mind though. They loved their grandmother and besides she cooked a lot better than their own mother.
"Come on in." I greeted my niece and nephew, "I've just put the kettle on, and you go and unpack while I make us all a cup of tea."
"Coffee for me please." Martin grinned.
"And me." Tina added.
"Coffee it is then." I replied.
Martin and Tina took their bags upstairs while I headed for the kitchen to make the coffee. As I waited for the coffee to percolate I wondered what the kids and I could do for the next two weeks that they would be visiting me; I had the same problem every year, what to do. Mind you I had always enjoyed the annual two-week visit of my big sister's kids, especially after my own marriage had broken up; they had cheered me up no end. Martin had now turned nineteen, his sister was eighteen, and growing more beautiful each time I saw her.
What I liked most about the kids was that they seemed to think nothing of the age gap between us, their attitude made me feel like a twenty year old instead of a woman of thirty-eight. The kettle clicked off and I busied myself with making coffee, I could hear the kids moving about upstairs and took the steaming cups into the living room with a smile on my face. A few minutes later they came into the living room; for some reason Tina's face seemed a little flushed and I hoped that she was not coming down with a cold.