I have been in Baghdad for 17 months as of today. I have a (hopefully) short four months left. This last month and a half has been hard, and the last two weeks really hard. Two weeks ago I thought I’d see the man I love again in two days. Twelve days ago I found out his position had been eliminated and he wasn’t coming back to Baghdad – he didn’t find out much before that. While we were no longer ‘together’, I still love him and was really looking forward to seeing him again. The thought that I might never see him again filled me with pain. SO MUCH. It left this dark spot in me. However, we are still in contact and he assures me that we will see each other again – he will come visit me in Washington DC once I get settled. That seems so far away. I want nothing more than to be in his arms again. I can’t imagine loving anyone as much as I love him. However, I know I need to try to start to move on. Que sera sera… I’m slowly, SLOWLY, working this out in my head. It’ll take time, and it won’t happen overnight, so I just have to be patient with myself and try to have fun in the meantime. As I’ve said before, and many will say after me, dating in the Foreign Service is not for the faint of heart. In a word, it sucks.
As well as him not coming back, I have a lot of friends here that are leaving due to the ‘right-sizing’ of the embassy and their own positions being eliminated. Since I arrived before the military left Iraq, I’ve seen quite a few changes around here. It’s a never-ending change – you go on vacation and so many things are different in the short span of a few weeks when you return. But I think the changes going on right now are some of the most drastic that I’ve seen in my time here. It almost makes me want to leave early too…but four months should go by fast, especially with two more trips out before I go. It’ll be over before I know it. Right?
I had a nice last weekend in DC, saw a bunch of friends from NATO, and did a little shopping. I’ve now left the United States, and after a last minute decision on Sunday, I’m in Lisbon. I’m here for a few days, a nice little trip before I start working again.
Lisbon is beautiful. After living in Belgium for two years, things seem downright cheap here! I think I’ve been too hard on Western Europe – I think it’s just Belgium. I’ll be more open minded from now on. So the chances of me coming back here after hardship tours are a little better – I know some of you will be happy for that!
As I get closer to Baghdad, I’m getting slightly more anxious. The couple weeks of training I’ve received has prepared me some, but nothing can really prepare you for going into an unknown, because you don’t really know how it’ll affect you until you’re there. Even though I love moving around, it does get tough. Always a little more tough doing it alone – it does get lonely, but once I get to Baghdad, I’m sure I’ll make friends in no time. I don’t seem to have too many problems doing that. 🙂 Still, it’s an adjustment. I tend to make acquaintances easily, but good friends are a lot harder. Not everybody gets me, being the oddball that I am. But everybody remembers me! I love who I am – I hope you do too!
Here goes nothing!
To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season. As I write this, I have 12 days left in Brussels. I’ve had to say à bientôt to a few people in the last few days, and will say the same to many more in the coming ones. Such is the life of the Foreign Service. But with every ending comes a new beginning.
This summer I’ll be going back to the U.S. for home leave and training before I run off to the sandbox. Yes, my next post is Baghdad. I’m always interested in people’s reactions when they ask where I’m going next. Some don’t react – most of those are women. The women, especially ones that have served in posts like Baghdad, understand. For many the conversation goes like this:
“Wow! Did you volunteer for that? Why?? Won’t you have to wear a burqa all the time?”
The answer is yes, I bid for this position and was selected from a number of applicants. Believe me, if I hadn’t taken it, someone else would have. And no, I won’t have to wear a burqa. As far as why? There are a number of reasons. The need to challenge myself is one. The incentive pay is another. The close-knit community in places like that is a big reason too. And, let’s face it – it’s not easy being a single woman in the Foreign Service, so the fact that the male to female ratio skews in my favor doesn’t hurt either. Do I expect someone to sweep me off my feet? No. Do I expect some companionship? Yes.
I look forward to my next 12 days in Brussels. I’ll miss friends that I leave behind, as well as friends that scatter to other parts of the world. I’ll miss my lunch buddy, and my co-workers, my neighbors, and the smell of the waffle trucks parked on the sidewalks. But as this chapter ends, a new one begins. I look forward to new experiences, new challenges, and new friends. Here’s to fond farewells and new beginnings!