Tag Archives: Foreign Service

Two months left

I have about two months left in my tour here.  I can’t believe I’ve been here this long!  The last two months have been a whirlwind of emotion.  Since I wrote last, I’ve taken a trip out of here and visited a friend in Naples.  It was a fun trip, and I got great news in the middle of the trip – the man I love (mentioned in my last post) was called back to Baghdad!  He was here when I returned, which made me very happy.  When we first saw each other again, we stood and hugged for about five minutes straight.  I think we both realized just how much we’d missed each other.  So, after a little talk, we got back together.  It was a great month.

He had applied to some jobs back home in the limbo time he was in, and had a couple of phone interviews once he got back here.  I told him he was awesome and that they’d love him, and they did!  They offered him the job (as I assured him they would) and wanted him to start in two weeks.  He found out Wednesday and told his company, and they decided to ship him out of Baghdad on Saturday.  A bit of a shock to both of us at the quickness of it all.  As we sat together Thursday night,  all he could say was that he didn’t want it to happen this fast, and that he doesn’t want to leave.  I had a few tears leak out, because those were the same thoughts I had.  (Did I mention dating in the Foreign Service sucks?)  But we pulled our happy faces on and had one last fun game night together with friends.

Friday we had a good talk about where we want this to go from here.  We agreed that we want to see each other, and when I told him I’ll miss talking to him every day, he assured me that he intends to talk to me on the phone almost every day.  I told him about options down the road, if we decide it’s too hard being apart, where I could take time off from my job and move to where he is for a year and we could see how it goes.  He left a couple of days ago, and I am already starting to miss him.  This is not going to be easy!  Some days I think it’d be easier if I just broke it off now and moved on with my life.  I can’t do that though – I believe in our love and can’t just throw it away because we aren’t in the same place.  The two months we had apart made me realize that.  Our talk made me hopeful for our future.  We’ll see where it takes us!

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The bid list

Well, the Foreign Service bid list came out last week, and I have mulled and culled, and came up with a list of about 9 that I’ve bid on. They span the far corners of the earth. I’ve sent out emails to my top choices and would be happy with any of them. I’ve talked to Mr. Wright about my choices, and that I don’t want to be without him. I told him I want him to come with me. He wants to be with me too, and said he’ll be happy wherever we go. So I’ve started bidding and have heard back from a number of jobs already. I’m hoping I get an early handshake in the next few weeks so I don’t have to worry about it for much longer, but we will see. My top three choices all have multiple bidders, but I think I make a strong candidate for any of them. Really, I would be happy anywhere I go – top choice or not. I want to see the world – and I want to see it with my love. I’ll keep you updated on where I end up!


Where is home?

One question that’s always asked when living overseas is “Where is home for you?” This is always a hard question for me. Where is home? It reminds me of an American Forces Network commercial. “Do you mean where I was born, or where I lived the longest, or maybe you mean where I live now?” If it’s a foreigner asking, it’s easy enough to say “the United States.” But for others, who want to know where in the U.S., it’s a little more difficult.

I was born in California, but that’s never been home. I grew up in Minnesota, and my family has moved back there from Vegas, but it doesn’t really feel like home anymore. I lived in Las Vegas for seven years before I joined the Foreign Service, but I don’t have very many ties to Vegas anymore, so that doesn’t feel like home either. Home, in my mind, is where I live at any particular time.

The first time I realized this was about a year after joining the Foreign Service. I remember chatting online with my niece one day back in 2008. I was living in Nigeria. I had come back on my R & R to the states for a visit. I had gone to Las Vegas to visit my then-husband and other friends and relatives, then up to Minnesota to visit the family, including this niece. I flew back to Nigeria; a few days later I was chatting with her, and she asked me if I was home. I said yes. She asked me when I was going back to Africa. I told her, no, I mean I’m at home in Africa. It was this moment that I realized what the definition of home was to me. I realized how quickly my concept of home had changed. Home, for better or for worse, is where I sleep at night. It’s where I work. It’s the friends I have lunch with. It’s where I feel comfortable. Abuja was home; Brussels is home; Baghdad will be too. And wherever I go from there. Home is where the Foreign Service sends me.

But really, home is more of an idea than a place. Home is where you can laugh and hug and catch up with friends and family. Home is in the arms of someone you care about. Home is where you are loved; home is all over the world, as long as your friends are there!

Where is home for you?

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An end, and a new beginning

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!

 


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