A state of mind address

Yes I have been quiet.

Do you know that I have been writing 3limes an average of two times a week for close to four years? (This is post # 425.)  And in that time I have written about the rain, the desert, Carnival, liming, zebras, lions in trees, car crashes, teaching teens, raising my girls as reluctant expats, the longing feeling for home, the getting used to the new, the craving for shiny shops and culture, the scary driving, the Canadian Lakes, the roads of London. I have taken many photos, sometimes inserted a book review or poem we are studying in class. I have told stories and hopefully amused and given some picture of what this crazy expat life is all about.

But there is a lot I have not said. I have not shared the tears, the heartbreak, and the true aftermath of all the goodbyes. I have not always told you everything about the schools where I teach, I couldn’t. Early on I made the decision that this blog would not reveal the personal, and I would not show photos of my family or tell you too much about them, outside of the anecdotal. I have held back, time and time again. There is an information overload out there; blogs, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, Stumble On, newspapers, Arts&Letters Daily, photography…the list goes on, the words tumble and crowd and fill me up ‘till I can’t hear the quiet anymore. And I have not been quite sure where I fit into the noise.

This is not a place for cute pics of my kids or the meal I made last night. This is not the place to fill you in with details of my weight loss, marriage, sex life or tearful rages. This is not the place to write about the days when I am too sad to write. So it is a place for stories, observations, a place to mark my days and remember what it was like. To try and find the pretty and keep moving. And recently I haven’t been very good at doing that, because I haven’t, honestly been doing a lot of seeing and doing.

I work. I work hard, hello IB? I deal with lazy students, incompetence, entitlement and bad manners. But I also teach open minded, wise, brilliant students, mainly girls, mind you, that open my eyes more than I open theirs. Teaching in this school has taught me more about the Arab and Muslim world than I could ever imagine and it has spun my ideas in circles many times. But I cannot write about these students, or this school. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right.

I go home and I take care of my lovely girls who work hard and discover and learn and sometimes get sad and homesick but mainly are good and fine and happy. I cook for them, I wash their clothes, and I shop, help with homework and drive them all over the place. I do the Mom thing, the best way I know how. And sometimes I fear it isn’t good enough. Don’t we all?

I take care of my husband and love him up the best way I can. We love and laugh and read and watch movies and sometimes we look at each other and wonder how the hell we ended up here, in this life, living in this country. Sometimes I am in a time warp, driving in Bahrain and suddenly, in a flash I am simultaneously driving down a red dirt road in Kampala with the sun glinting off the rain splattered giant leaves. And there is that woman with the bananas on her head, and there are those children laughing and carrying water as the sun begins to dip. Or I am driving the girls to school in Montreal and the snow has turned to slush and we are listening to our favourite morning show. Or I am thinking about my day in this school in Bahrain and suddenly in a flash my worlds are colliding and I am back in a class room in Port of Spain, bare feet on blue carpet, hum of the air-conditioner, sun pressing against the window panes. And then quick flash, I am back in Montreal in a classroom of 32 girls, chalk on black skirt, wooden desks smoothed by the hands and pens of time. I am talking to a new friend here and then bang! I am in the garden of my dear A, back in her lushness in Kampala and we are sipping Espresso and watching our kids jump on the trampoline. Or bang! I am sitting on the wooden floor boards of my Montreal house with my best girl friends and the kids are tiny, barely toddlers.

Too many worlds have happened too fast. I am shell shocked.

Shall I tell you all this? Shall I tell you about my new exercise regime? My careful monitoring of everything I eat so that it is I who controls my body and what goes in it? My fantastic Latin Dance Class? My battles with teenagers, the constant negotiation and mapping of life with a teenage daughter, the sad, too sad week in school last week when I watched my dear students deal with a grief they are too young to comprehend?  Shall I write about the friends I miss and wish I could see again? Shall I tell you about my worries about the Summer, when I will go “home” to Montreal, to a place that is no longer home, where I have no home and hop from friend to friend in the hope that please can I not offend or disappoint anyone this year? Can I please NOT piss anyone off?

No. I cannot tell you everything that is in my mind, this is not that kind of blog. And I cannot tell you what I do every day because it is, quite frankly, boring. And who wants to hear what I am making for dinner? Or what I taught today? Who wants to see the photo of Princess in her cute new skirt or hear about how much sand we swept up from the front steps yesterday?  There are plenty of blogs like that, this is not that blog.

So where does that leave little 3limes? Faltering on her balance beam, not entirely sure which way to fall.


Filed under Being brave, pen and paper, personal

12 responses to “A state of mind address

  1. Angela

    I know why I come here. Your honesty. Your talent. The way you see the world. It transcends where you are while at the same time sharing the new of your daily life with the everyday of mine.
    I may have gasped as I read this today. Bahrain. Kampala. Montreal. It is not where you are, it is who you are and how you see. And that is special.
    Hugs my friend.

  2. 3limes is a magnificent read. A wonderful snapshot into your peripatetic life. Please don’t stop writing.

  3. Rebecca Van Hout

    I so enjoy reading about your adventures. You don’t need to be “that blog” because your blog is perfect just the way it is!

  4. Laurel

    I have so enjoyed your writing on this blog. I think I found it around the time you left Trinidad and have been reading ever since. I’m a poor commenter, always, as I much prefer reading to writing myself. But I love the glimpse of life in a wildly different setting that you have given me over and over. Not that I think that should influence you and whether you take time out of your life to write things that others may read, but this seemed like a good post to comment on and say “thank you” for what you have written.

  5. christina & craig

    3limes is how we check in on you and on your life, even when you don’t know it. 3limes makes us laugh, cry, wonder, and wish. 3limes is our cup of coffee with you on Sherbrooke Street, or our glass of wine looking over the lake. 3limes is our inspiration too, to be better at communication, to dig deeper and take the time to share the way you share with us. We are grateful for 3limes.

  6. I know how you are feeling-sometimes a time out is good, then you will come back , when you want to share, fresh.x

  7. Beautiful, beautiful blog ! Love your honesty. Please write about everything you are suppressing , there are readers like me who would love to read !
    I wrote a post some days back which echoed a similar sentiment.
    you may love to read it :
    Please visit my blog. I write about life, both about my general and personal life and also others stuffs like photography,fashion, etc.
    Have a nice day !

  8. Looking forward to hearing from you when you’re feeling it:) Hi to everyone for us. xo

  9. louiseinbahrain

    It can be quite the juggling act; embracing the new and exciting, while mourning the old and familiar. It’s so comforting to hear/read an honest and open (yet still quite private) account of your expat life and it must be helpful to know there are lots of readers who are along for the ride with you.

  10. You wrote: “Too many worlds have happened too fast. I am shell shocked.” I know what you mean. I can close my eyes and “be” in several places, houses — with friends who are now scattered around the world. I do not regret having an expat life, because I have seen and learned and enjoyed so many interesting things, but it does have its drawbacks and heartaches.

    For my blog, my philosophy is much the same as yours re personal details. I try to find the fun side of things, have a sense of humor, which does sometimes elude me until I get a sense of perspective.

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