Almost six years since I thought about this space, but a global pandemic and fury about my government’s incompetence and cruelty pushed me to write again.
I have the same boyfriend, but a different job in a different city, and the LLM is now thankfully well over. Je suis maintenant française. But I remain an Australian, a citizen who should possess the rights that come with such a legal status. Whose passport remains embossed with the words- “… allow the bearer, an Australian Citizen, to pass freely without let or hindrance and afford him or her every assistance and protection”.
And I am furious.
So my whole blogging phase lasted about four minutes, now more than three years ago, before I managed to accumulate with minimal thought or awareness a full-time job, a boyfriend, and some strange desire to do an LLM- all of which are still with me. And the chances of it being revived were somewhat slim, until I had an epiphany last weekend and decided to cancel my planned romantic holiday in Southern Brittany to go and spend 10 days following refugees around the Balkans in the increasingly cold, wet European weather. I can’t really account for how and why it all happened so quickly. On Sunday afternoon I was watching the rugby with friends talking about how excited I was to go on a salted caramel eating binge and have a relaxing week away, at 9pm I was home falling asleep on the couch watching Al Jazeera, and by 1am I was looking at flights and researching accommodation in Serbian border towns. Like with so many things I’ve done and decisions I’ve made, my never-ending insomnia played a key role. I really didn’t give it much thought, in part because I didn’t want to give myself time to change my mind. Any time I’ve had that fear, that nervousness that tells you you’re about to do something scary but also something exciting, I’ve quickly moved to commit myself before I over analyse. I’m a chronic over analyser, so now I lay down money or say things out loud or tell people what I’m planning so that I can’t back out without looking like a coward. Because if there’s one thing I hate more than the thought of failing, it’s the thought that I didn’t have the balls to try.
This journeys purpose is for me to learn. To meet the people I’ve been reading about for so long; the ones who flee their homes and the ones who help them, but also the ones who don’t want to, because I want to hear and understand their point of view as well. Contrary to the belief of many, I’m not so pigheaded that I don’t want to try and comprehend why so many think these people are a threat. I have spent copious amounts of time trying to understand the disdain and sometime hatred people in my home country (and my resident one) can have towards individuals who are victims of factors beyond their control. I’m yet to come across a good reason based on fact rather than ignorance or fear, but I’m open to hearing it.
I’d also be lying if a small part of me didn’t secretly hope that at least one person might read this and change their mind. I have plenty of friends who think that refugees are risking their children drowning simply so they can live in a country with Maccas. I know plenty of people who will swear until they’re blue in the face that these people are queue jumpers, economic migrants, illegal immigrants, and about a thousand other derogatory terms even though all evidence points to the contrary. It doesn’t matter how many times you point out that not only do asylum seekers not break any law, but they also have a legal right to claim asylum, there will still be people who think they should go back to where they came from. I don’t know why I think I may have success here when so many others haven’t. Maybe it makes a difference if you know the person putting themselves into the situation. Maybe it makes a difference if you are not being paid to do it. I am not a journalist or a reporter. In recent years I haven’t even felt like that talented a writer any more. But I am honest, and I guess there’s a chance that my mind might be changed as much as anyone’s, and if that is the case I promise to share it. If what I learn proves I have been wrong all these years I’ll own it.
I am flying into Athens and then heading to Lesbos, currently the front line of the European refugee ‘crisis’. The aim is to work my way from the border of the EU with Turkey up into the Balkans and Western Europe. But I only have ten days, and if I end up spending ten days in Lesbos helping emergency volunteers hand out blankets then so be it.
I have finally bitten the bullet and started the blog I always said I wouldn’t in response to potential publications asking me about my ‘online presence’, with the hope that it may indeed catapult me into some amazing opportunity. Someone who I love to bits told me that I just have to remember I’m doing it for myself, and as such if I get ripped to shreds I technically still haven’t failed- This is fantastic as it allows me to pretend I’m being brave but reassure myself failure is not a possibility because I only have to answer to me.
Plus, if I never try to promote it, I can’t feel bad about no one reading it; a win-win situation really. The title will make sense only to a select few, which works well as I really have no idea what I’m doing anyway. There is no exact genre for this; I write about what I want to write about and on any given week a post could range from a bus trip in Africa, to moaning about conservative Christians, to whinging about the metro in Paris being full of les parisiens. So feel free to read, disagree, and rip me to shreds- I’m brave and am only doing it for myself after all. 😛 Peace, Kate X