Category Archives: Texas

Lessons from a hurricane

It was a Facebook message from a stranger that finally made me break down completely.

When I look back on our Harvey experience, what I remember most is the constant anxiety – watching the water rise in our neighbourhood, getting closer and closer to our front door; the almost constant tornado alerts; the panicked messages at 6am one morning as we tried to work out if the evacuation notice for our area was mandatory or voluntary.

Even now, a month later, it is hard to put the events of that week into any kind of chronological order or to give the experience a neat narrative storyline. Key moments stand out – waiting for evacuated friends to arrive while watching the water getting higher and higher, only to get a phone call to say that they’d spent more than an hour trying to find a passable route to our home, and with that the realization dawning that we were marooned. The text message from a colleague showed a photo of the view from his rescue boat. The stories of colleagues and families sleeping in offices or strangers’ homes, the last-minute escapes – friends leaving homes, not knowing when they would get back or what they would find when they did.

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On being a childless expat

It happened at my first ever expat coffee morning. You know the one where you arrive flustered because you haven’t quite figured out where anything is in your new town, you don’t speak the language and you don’t know another living soul apart from our significant other.

I’m much better at these things now but back then I was utterly out of my depth. A fairly sudden decision to accept an offer from my husband’s employer had thrown us into a whole new life with little to no preparation. I hardly knew what an expat was and I had absolutely no plan for how I would cope with the complete change in lifestyle. To say we were winging it would be generous.

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Finding home

Home is such a complicated idea for so many expats, it certainly is for me. I wrestle with where it is, what it looks like, how it feels.

One of the definite benefits of being a small part of the Families in Global Transition 2017 Pascoe-Parfitt Writing Residents’ extended team is having to revisit some of the sessions from the conference. With so much to take in over three packed days, I’m still trying to process everything I heard. However, having to write an article on Dr. Cate Brubaker’s thought provoking ‘Expanding Your Tribe’ Kitchen Table session gave me a wonderful opportunity to reflect, not just on the themes of our discussion, but also on my ideas about ‘home’.

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