Expat's make friends very quickly.
It's like speed dating.
You met because your kids are in the same class at school, or you have mutual friends from a past adventure who introduce you via email or Facebook, or they are the wives of your husbands work colleagues, or you met at the International Women's Club or the gym, tennis club, running club, pottery class or art course.
You smile, make small talk.
"What! You too?" WOW. Small world, eh?
There's a list of standard questions that can be a heard all over the globe on the first day of international school as returning parents meet new arrivals over Welcome Coffee Mornings.
- When did you arrive?
- Where are you from?
- How long are you here?
- Do you have Kids?
- How many?
- Where are you living?
- Do you have a car?
- Will you be working?
- Who does hubby work for?
- What does he do?
- Does he have to travel?
- Oh, do you know .........?
- Where else have you lived?
- When were you there?
- Oh, do you know .......?
- Are you a member of (insert name of gym or Club)?
If you've played this game you know it's not merely a Q and A session but rather, a very important conversation that allows each of you to quickly work out if you want to swap phone numbers. It's the beginning of girl dating.
Thanks to girl dating I've been on a few coffee dates, accompanied MissM on a Friday afternoon play date and been to lunch. Nothing but nothing could have prepared me for last Tuesday.
Last Tuesday morning MrsD phoned and asked if I'd like to join her and MrsW (newbie) on a quick little look-see of her favourite shopping spots in the locale. We met at the school car park and went in one car.
We drove to Egham High Street and had a quick walk around, then to Staines Shopping Centre where we grabbed lunch from Marks and Spencers after a quick look-see at the main bits of the area.
Now, I have had a niggling pain in my hip for a few weeks (yeah yeah) and over the course of a few hours it got worse. My thigh was so painful I could hardly walk. MrsW confessed that she thought I had a limp but didn't recall me limping when we first met a few days before. When MrsD asked me if I was ok, MrsW realised I didn't have a limp but was in pain. By the time I had to collect MissM, I was finding it very difficult to walk and the pain was apparent to others as several mums said 'are you ok'
MrsD saw me and told me to sit down; she grabbed MrsB and asked her if MissM could go home with her as she was taking me to A&E. I drove home. MissM was delighted to have an impromptu palliate and sad I wasn't well and MrsD went home, organised her 3 kids and met me at the hotel.
Three hours later, waiting in A&E, and much bonding was done. I'm sure I talked more than her as the pain was pretty bad. She phoned MrsB and explained we would be hours and could MissM sleep over; she then phoned another mum (I only know her first name) and asked her to collect MissM from school the following day so I could 'rest'.
MrsD and I laughed so hard when she had to help me get undressed and gown up for X-rays. We've met twice in a large group for coffee and now this! The man in the next bed commented on how lovely it was to hear such genuine laughter - we heard thru the curtain he had leukaemia and was worried about a burn he got over the weekend being infected. That stopped us laughing quick smart.
MrsD pushed me in the wheel chair to and from X-ray and out to the car .... if we're not BF's after this I don't know what we are.
After a series of X-rays, and a few push-pull tests there's nothing wrong other than strained muscles (no idea how/when I did that). They gave me super duper pain killers and anti-inflamatory tablets.
On Wednesday afternoon, MrsD met MissM at reception and introduced her to the 'mum' who brought her home; she then kindly offered to collect MissM Thursday and bring her home so I could have two full restful days.
MissM was so kind - asking me if I was ok. I was more concerned about her as I had disappeared and she had spent a night with a family we didn't know and was brought home by someone unfamiliar to her. She took it in her stride and said muma, they are school mums. I was fine. HOW ARE YOU?
WHAT A START!
I'm usually the one offering to help and organise so being on the receiving end from women I have literally only just met was truly incredible.
MrsD has done a few expat stints and kept saying 'its' what we do, we can't rely on the husbands so we have to rely on each other'. Talk about girl power!
Her husband travels more than he is home; MrsW husband is still in their previous home finishing his contract; the other lovely mums husband also travels 'a lot' for work; another mum I met is pretty much a full time single mum as her hubby is based in the UAE and she and the kids are here - they all support each other when ever the needs arises. There's no thank you cards or flowers sent - it's just a given that you do what you can do when you can do it.
Thank goodness G doesn't travel. Though if he did, I know I'm in a great community and would be just fine.