I'd signed up for the writing course on a whim. After suffering from serious bloggers remorse after pushing the "publish" button I'd figured a writing course might help me gain some confidence. I think a glass of wine may have been involved in the decision making process. The little travelers had agreed they would be fine with a babysitter and after working through the logistics of 4 children, school pick ups, swimming lessons and all the other "stuff" I found myself at Education City.
There were roughly 12 women in my class. I had hoped there would be an opportunity to meet some new people and was secretly wishing for a chance to spend time with some Qatari women. It was hard to conceal my excitement when the woman who sat next to me removed her Niqab and introduced herself. I couldn't have been further away from the expat wives club. Don't get me wrong, I couldn't survive a day without my friendships and support of other expats in Doha but it was so nice to be in a room with a balance and equilibrium of both.
At the end of the four day course there was to be a reading. All of the different groups would get together and a few people would read a piece written that week. I'm wincing as I remember the details.
One of our exercises was to write a piece on an object you had with you. Looking down at the table I could see my notebook (boring), my pen (boring), my car keys (very boring)......and then I noticed my ring. The ring has some major significance to me, a gift from G after the birth of the 4th little traveler. I had coveted the ring for 10 years never expecting to own it. As I began to write the piece I realized how materialistic and shallow I sounded. I wasn't happy with how it was going. I changed some words, tried to make it funny, I had 5 to 10 minutes. I wrote as if the ring were narrating "you'll never do better than me, I'm the best you'll ever have". I read it to the class, we giggled, it sounded kind of funny.
When the instructor suggested I read the piece that evening at the reading my immediate reaction was no way. "Oh c'mon" she and my class mates chorused, "it was funny". I explained my fears that it sounded too "expat wife", you know, everyone else is writing serious things and I'm banging on about my pretty ring. I don't like how it looks. My new friends all reassure me it wont be that way. I'm not convinced but I'm flattered so I agree. What was I thinking??
I'm hopeless with numbers but I'm guessing there were roughly 60 people at the reading. I hadn't seen most of them before as they were in different classes. I felt a little uncomfortable, I felt like a Mum who'd walked in to a boardroom wearing sweatpants and a ponytail. Feelings of fraud start to take over. I hear people discussing their "20 years of writing" and I giggle nervously about my 21 blog posts.
If I was worried about my "ring story" being a little flippant before the reading I had no doubt once it began. The first three readers were in Arabic and although I couldn't understand what was said I could feel that the pieces were thoughtful. People looked meaningfully at the readers, rubbed their chins and nodded. I started to feel sick.
Then they introduced the Palestinian poets....yes, that's right Palestinian, yes, the course was last week, in the height of the Flotilla crisis. Their poems were amazing, they delivered them beautifully, they spoke of men in camouflage uniforms, losing their families, their homes. They spoke from the heart. People cried. I sat there like a deer stuck in the headlights.
It just got worse, a local woman spoke of the loss of her childhood home, an American gave a thoughtful but witty rendition of a childhood visit to Serbia. Then I got up and spoke about my nice shiny, sparkly diamond ring. As you can imagine, it kind of fell flat. Not a lot of giggles.
When I arrive home G is smart enough not to protest when I tell him it was terrible. As he passes me a glass of champagne to commiserate my disastrous reading debut he tells me I wasn't the only performance of the evening. The little travelers had put on a show, it's venue the trampoline. They titled it "thunder and lightening". I laugh at his explanation of my 4 little travelers holding their hands in the air and falling backwards with a dramatic "we are thunder, we are lightning". I can picture every detail as he tells me about Number 1's directorial instruction to her siblings. They have been fed, the house is still standing and the world continues to turn.
It's time to get over it and move on to blog post 22.