Tag Archives: friends

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!


From Lisbon With Love

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!

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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!

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Here goes nothing!


What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

Home leave is not only a time to get in touch with what’s going on in America, it’s also a time to get back in touch with those friends and family you don’t get to see while living overseas. I’m fortunate to have a lot of both, and home leave can be both exciting and a little tiring, trying to see everyone and do everything. So, as I come to the close of my home leave, I look back to see what I’ve learned about myself during home leave. I’ve learned a lot, so here’s a top ten – in no particular order…

1. I learned just how much I love music – music makes Darlene’s world go round. I could listen to live music every day and not get enough.

2. I make friends very easily. In my three days in New Orleans, I made three new facebook friends. Traveling alone helps to make new friends – I’ve learned the best way to make new friends is to sit at the bar and start chatting.

3. Family traditions can be passed on to people that aren’t technically your family, but have been around so long that we count them as such. Family traditions can include VFWs and karaoke.

4. Living out of a suitcase kinda sucks, but I’m grateful I got to see as much as I did on my home leave.

5. Class reunions can be fun, but nothing beats seeing the people that really care about you. And the people you really want to see at the reunion aren’t usually the ones that show up. Some people look great, some people you can’t recognize, and others just haven’t aged well. You end up chatting with people you never talked to in high school.

6. After getting another tattoo while on home leave, I want to get another one – now comes the process of figuring out what that one will be. Hopefully it won’t take as long to figure out as this one did. They are contagious – I’m sure of it. I think it’ll have something to do with music.

7. I realized how much I care about people that I haven’t seen for a really long time, and how much I miss having them around me. I love moving on to new adventures, I just wish I could take people with me.

8. I need to let go of people that aren’t present, in the moment, WITH me, when they’re with me. I need to not be just an option – I need to feel wanted. Most of my friends are, and I love them for that. A few aren’t, and I’ve realized that’s not good for me. I need to be worth it for them, or there’s no reason for me to make the effort.

9. Everybody loves traveling Pooh. From my new friends in New Orleans, to former classmates, to my friend that has a picture of Pooh in Rome up on his fridge – most are jealous of how many places he’s been.

10. Twenty years ago, I thought everyone was like me. I now realize how unique I really am, but at the same time how similar I am now, as a person, to how I was back then. Apparently I’ve been like this for awhile, I just didn’t know it. Old friends see this – but it took them telling me how they saw me back then to realize it.

Friday I start my new adventure – in-processing and training for a couple weeks. I’ll let you all know how it goes!


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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