Follow The Blinking Cursor

I began writing online in a hotel room, the natural habitat of a perpetual expat. With a blank page and a blinking cursor I typed the words with the idea of an online letter:

We’ve made it! We are FINALLY here in Doha. We haven’t quite arrived in the state we were hoping, the house in Houston is still on the market, the children don’t have confirmed places in school but we have everything we need and it feels really exciting to be somewhere unfamiliar.

The letters were sporadic. A couple in November, a few more in December. I was initially a little gun shy with the whole online thing, I’m not sure if oversharing was even an expression then but I remember being warned by well meaning friends. What if you say something wrong and get arrested? Are you allowed to write a blog in the Middle East? Are you sure it’s safe? Are you worried about G’s job?

I notice now that I referred to G as G from the very first post so maybe I was worried about his job? Or maybe I just decided that it was my space and neither he nor my children had signed up for the online thing. He was never concerned about it. G reads every post, and comments on none. He’s the quiet supporter. The children are also unenthused, they like posts about them, the other stuff is boring. I referred to them as the little travellers in the beginning, they were numbered one through four. I look back now and wince over the fact that they were 1,2,3 and 4 rather than one, two, three and four.  My writing then was enthusastic but crawling with rookie errors. It’s its, and there, their and they’re – I butchered them all. I still do.

By the time I had six months experience under my belt I’d become a fully fledged mummy blogger. I hate that term but in this case I have to own it. I wrote about marriage, kids and all the feels that came with it. I poured my heart onto the page with the angst that only a mother could understand about problems at school, self doubt, and the pain or joy that comes with letting a part of your heart go out into the world every day without you.

As the children grew and more people stopped us in the supermarket to say hi I gave up on the numbers for my children and gave them their names.  When I shared their stories I had my own rules, nothing that would embarrass them, stick to family giggles, stories of how they made me feel. When I read back through those days my writing is mostly love letters to my children in between accounts of expat life and its intricacies.

I’ve been so quiet over here. It’s been for self preservation mainly. Work is busy and to stop and write would be to stop and think, really think, about how cancer and the impending start of my eldest child’s boarding school experience is affecting me. And it’s not just you I’m avoiding it’s everyone. I’ve bailed on parties and declined dinner invitations.

I’m an expat blogger now. I write and speak about expat issues. If you look closely it was there right from the start, the first blog post, there in the last line…

“…we have everything we need and it feels really exciting to be somewhere unfamiliar”.

Last weekend I interviewed two expat women, they were both in completely different situations: a brand new expat trying to find her tribe, and a returned expat who had plans to get on the road again one day. They both told fascinating stories, and each at the end of our call said the same thing – they’d been following my story, had been long time blog readers and wished me the best. I constantly feel like I have a team of women placed all over the world who are watching my back. I can feel you there – you have provided enormous strength.

These past few months have been the hardest of my life: the hurdles of cancer, the uncontrollable sprint to boarding school. I will get back to regular writing.  I will continue to share, to follow the blinking cursor.

Three more weeks of radiation. Four more sleeps until I drive her to school and help her get settled into her new life. Thank you for staying with me. xx


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