Saturday, January 14, 2012

What Diplomats Do When They're Not Busy Doing, Well, Whatever It Is That Diplomats Do.

(sketch by Kyra)

We made it, folks.

We're at the halfway point (halfway-ish, at any rate) of our tour in Amman.

The Foreign Service has a little graph that shows the stages of foreign-service-ness at a post: you know, first six months, euphoria, next six months, bitterness and denial, and so on. I'd link to it, but I'm way too lazy to do a google search. Any one out there know the one? Send the link my way, please, and I'll link it in later. That is, if I'm not trapped in bitterness and denial.

I shouldn't still be trapped in bitterness and denial, because (as attentive readers will have learned in sentence two, above) we're at the 18-month mark. I think. I don't remember exactly when we arrived. And I'm too lazy to look that up, either. Come to think of it, is the eighteenth month marked by laziness and sloth? I'm thinking it might be.

Where was I? Oh, yes. The halfway point. And there's a good chance we're going back stateside for a few years after this (can you hear the grandparents cheering on both coasts at the mere thought?). So we're engaged in a typical mid-tour diplomatic activity.

House P0rn.

That's right. This is - or ought to be, anyway - the stage on the chart where a typical Foreign Service family starts thinking about where they might want to live back in the States.

We go on the internet and surf realtor sites almost ceaselessly, drooling over remodeled kitchens and walk-out basements and fireplaces. We picture a life back in America, down the street from Target and Wegmans and that awesome pho restaurant.

Then we pull out our calculators and add up the bank statements and remember the college funds and sigh deeply.

We return to our real estate sites and plug in a smaller number when it asks how much we might want to pay for a house. But of course this is Virginia, and so those teeny numbers don't give us fireplaces, or basements. They do give us chain link and pick-up trucks on the lawn, or a dead tree in the front yard. They don't give us Lake Barcroft, or Falls Church, or Clarendon.

So back we go to our calculators, and we try to figure out how to save an additional one or two hundred - thousand! - over the next year-and-a-half. You know, on top of the college funds.


I can't quite remember what months 18-24 show on the little Foreign Service mood graph - desperation and resignation, perhaps?

Oh, well. It's still fun to dream.

And we do have a little townhouse already, bought when we had just two small kids and not a clue that the universe would be sending a couple more our way. So maybe, just maybe, we should stop looking at real estate websites and start googling "how to fit six people into a three-bedroom townhouse."


Connie said... [Reply]

I like houses. I want one. I miss having a HOME. We actually do have a house, but have been away so long that the kids have never even seen it. I also have fantasies about whatever it is we left in storage years ago... I imagine moving into some place, having all those boxes put down into the basement.. then we can turn off the lights and let the kids play Indiana Jones! One day...

LeesOnTheGo said... [Reply]

Ohhhh, what a GREAT name for what we all do...House Porn. It is like that, isnt' it? Enjoy the shopping & dreaming. The idea of actually getting to LIVE in America (land of the free, home of the Target shopper) makes me jealous. But our family can't even afford the mortgage on jealousy yet, so I'll enjoy your move to the US vicariously through your blog in months to come.


Jenn D said... [Reply]

You know my house porn oh so well Mrs. G--POTTERY BARN! I dream of myself, my adoring husband, and my angelic children (this really is a porno) amidst those tempting pages of glowing fireplaces, cushy yet simply elegant and inviting living rooms...and, damn you! You've just pushed me over the edge here in my 18th-month-mark-yet-moving-yet-again-in-this-godforsaken-&^#&hole of an assignment. I guess I'm officially in the bitter phase? Maybe one day we'll be chatting as neighbors again across our chain-link, fenced yards...that would just about be worth it all. x

Alex said... [Reply]

Haha... I can TOTALLY relate. Lately I've been considering buying an investment property back near family in the Midwest, and that house porn is soooooo much better than anything in or around DC. The DC stuff is just depressing and makes me feel poor and desperate.

Alex said... [Reply]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth Anne said... [Reply]

Oh, it's not even limited to being overseas. I do the house porn thing whenever I get tired of tripping over all of our stuff (the stuff that fits neatly into a larger Embassy house and storage, but not so well into a small 3-bedroom townhouse) or writing rent checks. Someday...

Lynne said... [Reply]

We are SO doing this right now. Unfortunately, we have amazing housing at this post so anything would have been downhill from here anyway. I don't suppose you've found some forgotten hidden gem of a town/neighborhood? Sigh.

Lauren said... [Reply]

An aunt once fit a blended family of 8 kids into a teeny 3 bedroom townhome. The master had 2 sets of bunks, the tiny bedroom another set of bunks and two girls shared a queen in the third room. The parents moved into the finished storage room in the basement, which they fitted out with a tiny powder room next to the laundry. The living room was the size of a walk-in closet in a big, fancy home. It was tight, but you don't have 8 kids, at least!

Danielle said... [Reply]

Ha! I love this post, and the sketch! :) Even though we've got at least one or two more tours out before we head back Stateside, my husband's favorite leisure activity is browsing those addictive real estate apps on his new ipad. Our plan is to buy land first, build a house later. If we're too poor on home leave for a nice hotel we can always camp. :) We joke that our kids will someday right memoirs about the summers we made them live in a half-built shack in the middle of nowhere while we save up to build that dream house.

Jill said... [Reply]

Your blog is linked in the FS Blog RoundUp.

Jessica said... [Reply]

So excited you might be coming back this way ... although just in time for us to be ships passing in the night. By the way, I used to read Cooking LIght in bed at night and Liam always called it my "Food Porn." Good luck with the house hunt - and we feel your pain, both with prices and trying to fit a family into a small space!

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