Not Your Arm Nor Your Elbow

I was talking to my girlfriend Carol about a coffee shop in Adelaide, except it’s not really a coffee shop, it’s kind of like a tiny gourmet grocer where you can also have coffee. Carol wasn’t a fan. “The problem with it, is its neither your arm nor your elbow. It needs to decide what it’s going to be.”

Being an expat is kind of the same. I’m not permanently in Australia and I’m definitely not Qatari, nor will I ever be given the opportunity to be. I’m floating somewhere between the two in the land of expat. As expats we stumble into new locations, often after we’ve been given a spin and blindfolded, we randomly reach out looking for community. Ah here it is, oops no, that’s its bum.

There is a strong and vibrant Australian blogging community. I’ve waded into their waters on many occasions, most of the time I feel like I’m standing knee deep looking in at everyone splashing around. I’m Australian but often that’s just not enough to get an invite to the party. Competitions are run and I’m told in the politest way that although I’m Australian it’s just too hard if I don’t live there all the time. “We’re just not sure how we’d get you to try the products?”

 When I was back in Australia recently I won a writing competition, when they rang to tell me the news they first had a clarifying question.

“Kirsty, where are you right now?”

I knew what was coming. “I’m at my house in South Australia…” there was an awkward pause “this is my house in Australia, we have a home here.”

“Ahh, okay then. We just had to check. Hey, congratulations, you’ve won!”

I understand why I was asked, it was a butt covering exercise for the inevitable question/statement “but she doesn’t even live in Australia?”

Earlier this year when Mamamia chose me as one of their 50 most clickable women I felt the need to send Mia a thank you note. It felt good to have my name next to those names, woman who I identify with and admire. For the longest time I’d felt like I was on the outer, I think everyone wants to feel part of a community don’t they?

While G was in New York on a business trip recently I stumbled across an article about Blogfest13. I clicked on the link to see when it was and discovered it was this weekend in London. I mentioned it to G. I’ve never been able to get to a conference in Australia and the one that’s held in the States couldn’t be at a worse time of the year for G and I. I’ve downloaded recordings from conferences and listened in on the voices of women I admire feeling a million miles away from the action. There’s nothing like watching the twitter feed of an event to really let you know that you’re not there. About an hour after I’d told G about Blogfest13 he sent me an email, the subject title was “You better buy that conference ticket”, his email was a flight confirmation, he’d booked me a ticket to London.

I know, he’s a keeper. And I adore him.

And so tomorrow morning I will get on a plane to London, and dip my toes into another blogging community, hoping like any expat does that they’ll let me splash around for awhile. Even if it was just up to my waist I’d be happy. I will go as Kirsty the Australian with the Australian accent and the Australian passport. I will go as Kirsty who lives in Qatar and has a Qatari home, Qatari friends and a mild understand of how Qatar works. But mostly I will go as Kirsty the expat. And when people talk of blogging communities I will think of you; because you get it, you understand that we don’t have to live in the same country to connect.

While it may be confusing being neither an arm nor an elbow, the trade off is being able to dip your toes into more than one pool at a time. Wade in, wade out, splash around, make some new friends. That’s what I’m going to do, just keep swimming.

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