Last night I remember dreaming that I was surrounded by people I was meeting for the first time. It seems like I was in a large group of international students, and for some reason I’d decided to speak with an English accent the entire time, and I had them all convinced I was from Umbridge. (Is Umbridge even a place? It seems like it is in Alice and Wonderland.) Eventually I decided to drop the accent and I began to speak with my normal voice. People were very surprised to discover that I was from the South. Why I wanted to convince anyone otherwise, I am not really sure.

{Do your dreams ever make sense? Mine don’t.}

It’s a funny thing, this expatriate experience, when it comes to deciding who you are and where you’re from. For my four years in Scotland I did my best to learn to choose words that would avoid my speech being a distraction to what I’m trying to say. Did that make any sense? I mean to say that I purposely trained myself to say trousers instead of pants. Lift instead of elevator. Biscuit instead of cookie. To change my sentence structures. And it was in an attempt to hopefully have people listen to what I wanted to say, instead of the words I was choosing.

A year later, I’m here in South Africa, and it feels a little like starting all over again. Now biscuits are cookies. Trousers are pants. But my cell phone is still a mobile and I sometimes still have to ask where the toilet is, instead of the bathroom or restroom. And that sure is painful…I hate saying ‘toilet’ almost as much as I dislike the word ‘packet.’

And sometimes, when I go back to the Carolinas, I’m suddenly uncertain of who I am anymore.  What do I mean to say? Can I still nip to the loo in North Carolina? What if I say scone in such a way that it rhymes with ‘on’ instead of ‘own’? And what am I doing eating scones if there are biscuits around? Southern biscuits, not cookies, mind you. It sure does get confusing when you and your South African/British husband and your Scottish-African-American son have to decide whether you’re going to speak to each other in British English, South African English, or American English, based on where your feet are at the moment. Will the Bear understand I want to change his diaper instead of his nappy?

The other day I baked (from scratch!) buttery, southern biscuits (which are kind of like scones, friends outside the US) and then asked the Bear if he wanted a biscuit. He immediately started signing for a “cookie” and saying please because to him, biscuit and cookie are the same thing. That was strange. Whose kid are you??

As you know, since I’ve kind of been talking about it a lot, I’m looking forward to my toes touching Carolina soil again. But can I just make one simple request of you, friends that I’ll see while I’m there?

Please don’t pay too much attention (or make too much fun) of the words coming out of my mouth. I’ll do my best to revert back to my drawl and my Southern-American speech patterns, but if sentences like,

Do y’all fancy a spot of tea?


Dern, Bill’s Hot Dog’s are lekker!

come out of my mouth, do your best not to laugh too loud.

I’m really from Umbridge, after all.