Force of Habit

Last year in the midst of my diverticulum drama, I was sent to have an ultrasound on my bladder. As a mother of four I was familiar with the ultrasound process, actually as a mother of four I consider myself to be a qualified radiologist. As I lay on my back quietly congratuling myself of my perfectly timed water consumption, e.g. not wetting my pants in the waiting room. I excitedly watched the radiologist gel up her apparatus and head towards my pelvic region.

The excitement? I was listening for a heartbeat while searching the screen for the unmistakable kidney bean of new life. I know, it makes no sense. Me, the proud owner of a Mirena and G the recipient of a vasectomy. Force of habit. I was to discover that ultrasounds are particularly boring when there are no babies involved.

The radiologist was short on conversation, she didn’t seem particularly happy to be there that day and we were struggling through a chat that comes with you with your pants down and her with a lubricated device in her hands. She asked where I lived and I found myself pouring out a short form geographical resume. I’m Australian, I’m from here. I met my husband here, well, not right here but *insert awkward pause for bad humor*, but I live in Qatar, we’ve been on the road for about twelve years. Her face lit up, she knew exactly who I was.

“We lived in Cairo!” her tone changed immediately “We started in London and then went to Dubai and then we came home to get the kids into school”. She spoke expat.

The next fifteen minutes would be filled with conversation about friends in mutual locations, moving horror stories and locations on the wish list. “We came home too early, I dream of being an expat again”. And then she said something that threw me.

“So after all these years I guess you’re a die hard expat now, you wont be coming home.”

Wouldn’t I? Of course I would. I tried for an answer that made sense, something definitive. I had nothing. I had no idea. All I knew was that I didn’t like the idea of never coming home, but it was hard to argue when I couldn’t offer up a well planned repatriation.

It’s all so blurry isn’t it? The when.

There was a plan in the beginning. The first child would be born and we’d be home in time for me to return from a leave of absence from the office.

And then it changed.

When the first child was ready to begin school, five years was enough.

And then it changed.

Definitely, definitely by the time she was ten.

And here we are. She’ll be thirteen next month. And we are nowhere near being home.

Just one more posting. Just two more years. Just, just, just why can’t I commit to returning home? I love this expat life. I hate this expat life. I cannot quite say goodbye to this expat life.

Force of habit.

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