Saturday, July 19, 2014

Closing Credits Time #ForeignServiceProblems

Some of the people Evelyn will miss the most. Photo by Lyn Englin
With my globally nomadic life I often feel like I'm living in a movie. Except instead of 2 hours, my movies last about 2 years.  It is closing credits time again, and we've been attending a string of goodbye parties for friends whose assignments are also ending. (FYI: The French events are extra cinematic with the nostalgic American dance tunes and visually dramatic venues.)

Closing credits time is when we attempt to tie up all the loose ends of our life here. When something can't be done I try to tell myself that it wasn't that important after all. I begin to lean out instead of in; no point starting something new, of meeting new people, of becoming more attached.  The folks I'd intended to reach out to and get to know better? That woman who was going to tutor me in Swahili? The themed parties we were going to host?  The Sheikh Djibouti dance school we joked about creating?  Not going to happen.

Being a global nomad is a bit like channel surfing.  On one hand, you get a glimpse of what's on every station. On the other, you're left wondering how the story lines would have progressed if you'd stuck around.  

Closing credits time in the foreign service isn't about "happily ever after."  It's about saying goodbye and going separate ways.  As folks who study these things know, it generally takes about two years to really get your full stride once you've moved to a new place-- to form friendships that go back years (2, to be exact), to have bonded with those who are slow to trust, to have integrated yourself into a community--to have found your niche.  Most foreign service assignments are three years long, but we're heading to yet another two year gig because Algiers is also considered a hardship post.

Now sure, at each post some folks are ecstatic to leave, but those folks weren't so happy where they were; I'd prefer to keep falling in love and having sad goodbyes.

And so, a toast to Djibouti!  Thanks for the beautiful memories. I will miss you all--especially those whom I was only just starting to get to know better.  May your lives be filled with bright sunny days.       

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