She seemed fine.

She seemed fine.

Her little girl was sitting next to her, both of them squashed in to a single lounge chair in a coffee shop. While the other children raced in and out of the chairs her little girl snuggled in next to her, both of them sharing a muffin.

She leaned across me to thank someone, she told them they could have their car seat back.

“Oh! Has your air shipment arrived?” the other woman said with interest.

“Are you new?” I asked.

“Yes, we arrived two weeks ago”

She seemed fine.

We talked about schools, housing, and homes that were being renovated “back home”. She asked me about the little travelers, we ran through ages and names.

“I’d have liked to have four” she said wistfully, but my husband travels all the time and we’re renovating now’…. her voice trailed off.

I asked about her boys.

“It was their first REAL day at school today. We arrived the week before the holidays so they just went for the one day – but today is their first proper day”.

I looked at her closely. Her eyes had changed, they were glossy.

“When he woke up this morning, he didn’t want to go. He was crying all morning. It’s just…” she stopped to put her hand on her heart as if she needed to hold it in, as if it was too heavy. “I’m not sure I can talk about it”. There’s an apologetic smile – from both of us.

I’ve been her. More than once. I’ve sat in the chair surrounded by strangers, trying to remember names, ordering muffins for children and wondering if I know the way home.

She’s not fine.

I begin to talk about my guys, how difficult it was for the first little traveler when we we arrived. How happy she is now. And then I notice.

One solitary tear is rolling down her cheek.

She’s not fine – but she will be.

She will be.

  • http://expatlogue.wordpress.com/ Aisha

    I run out of things to say, Kirsty. Your writing says all that’s needed. Another touching post 🙂

  • http://twitter.com/mamabook Michelle

    Oh Kirsty. I wish I had you sitting next to me on my 1st days. Beautiful. xx

  • http://twitter.com/NikkiMoff Nikki

    Deep breaths! About to go there again….

  • KJ

    You writing takes my breath away. I also wish I had you sitting next to me during my first days.

  • Alana

    Kirsty, I’m sitting here in snowy Calgary in February, just back from tropical destination holidays, depressed that I have to go back to work tomorrow fighting traffic and the weather… in my post-holiday blus slump I decided to catch up on your blog and my spirits were immediately uplifted… cheers to you and your ability to tell a story in a way that makes us feel like we’re part of it .  You take the minutia of every day life and smack us in the face with it – forcing us to remember that it is the human connection that counts, no matter where we are and what we are doing… ‘pay attention to the little things’… it’s a good lesson that can always use reminding 🙂

  • Anisa Brown

    Very well said.

  • Denysewhelan

    Lovely lady, you done good. You are such a sensitive, sensible and savvy expat…love your work…. and your way of writing about it.  Denyse XX

  • http://www.lifeintheexpatlane.com/ Miss Footloose

    Oh, yes, I’ve been there, my children have been there. Love your story and your writing.

  • christel

    The 1st steps are always difficult. I would say even more when you’re going back to your home country. Abroad, everybody went through what you’re going through. In your homecountry, nobody understands, apart from the maybe few people who’ve been living the same. It’s so important to meet the good people!

  • Sarah-Jane

    Beautiful! S x

  • Louise

    Lovely, captures so totally those first days and weeks feelings. Reminds me also of the importance of support in those first days, we can never take away the worry, the concern, the sense of being lost in those first few days, but we can provide that shoulder to cry, that comforting space of understanding and compassion…. thanks for the reminder

  • Jennifer Howze

    The hardest thing about living abroad is that loneliness and feeling adrift. We’re “supposed” to handle everything, both for ourselves and our children.

    Really enjoyed this post.

  • Kathlockett

    Oh ….. this one had me tearing up.  I’ve been there – and continue to revisit ‘being there’ rather often. Like last week, for instance – 
    http://blurbfromtheburbs.blogspot.com/2012/02/phone-rings-just-as-i-am-about-to-turn.html

  • anotherkirsty

    She’ll be touched when she reads this! 

  • Sine Thieme

    I had the exact same thing happening to me, and I remember feeling so embarrassed to make someone else cry. But like you I remembered well those first days and how I came home from dropping the kids off at school and just cried my heart out. Amazing that just two weeks later it seemed like a distant memory. Beautifully written, as always!

  • http://www.mrsteepot.co.uk/ Mrs TeePot

    Beautifully written

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05774731321251803438 Welcome to SipMom

    You got my eyes all watery too!

  • http://epps-in-japan.blogspot.com/ Kathy Epp

    How long does it take to get fine?

  • Katelordbrown

    Ohh, been there 🙂 (always say it stands for Freaked out Insecure Neurotic and Emotional) x

  • Est

    This is a lovely piece, Kirsty! Beautifully written! I think most of us who’ve been there know what it is like to go through the “I’m not fine” – “I’ll be fine” – “I’m fine” phases. We will all be fine…x