Sunday, July 1, 2012

Thoughts of Summer

"My wife loves your blog," he told me, and just like that I doubled over with a severe case of writer's block.

I started this blog back in 2007 as a place to record the things that happen to me as I travel this foreign service road with my family, and all these years later, I still find it odd that random strangers read my blog.

Stranger still: the fact that people I know read it. This constrains me rather significantly, as you might imagine, because I'm not writing fiction. And yet, I'm not wanting to "out" the various people who hold my interest in the course of a regular day, and so I hesitate before I sit down to type.

What to say of the Embassy employee who can't seem to get along with anybody? How to describe the sadness when your child's favorite person packs up and moves on? The shaky hands of the woman who spent four weeks in a hospital, post-breakdown? The time I lost my temper and snapped at someone, undeservedly? Our boab, walking down the street alone, returning to his tiny box of a room in the garage and dreaming, no doubt, of family in far-away Egypt? The curious tension that is Syria, Syria, Syria, hanging over conversations with locals?

I'm changing, as one does, by the mere fact that I moved here. When I need to hail a taxi, I make sure I'm as covered as can be, so I stand in the street wearing a sweatshirt on a sweltering June day. No one told me to do that; I'm simply not comfortable showing any skin as I wait on a street corner. I read stories about Israel and Palestine in the paper and I shake my head in dismay at how one-sided these stories are, and how little Americans know about the situation, and how frustratingly unsolvable it is. I look at Syria on the map: Syria, where mothers and their babies are right now being killed by their own government, and I say, that's right next door. It isn't some faraway land: I could drive there in a couple of hours.

Soon we'll take the kids back to the States for a couple of weeks. They haven't been back to the States since we moved here in 2010. It won't really be a homecoming for them, as we're taking them to a part of the States that they've never seen before, but there will be grandparents, and perhaps an uncle or an aunt, and Target if they're lucky, and so they will be home, really home, in a place they've never been before.

Our definition of home has become just that fluid. Right now, we're home in Amman. But as soon as we leave this home, as soon as we touch down in a random city in America, we will look at our kids and say, we're home. How can that be? We set down our suitcases where it pleases us and pronounce the location home. But even as we do that, the kids pine for their home in Amman, and their long-ago home in Beijing. And we type a flurry of emails to the realtor regarding that other home, the one we just bought in Virginia, though only one of us has even seen it.

Meanwhile, we are enjoying summer here, at home in Amman. The weather is mostly blue-sky perfect. Mornings are reserved for work, but the afternoons are full of swim lessons and ice cream and what-to-make-for-dinner? I will start a new job, a full-time job, in August, and so I am enjoying these last days of flexibility before my schedule shifts once again and I am forced to re-work my routine.

Now: Ainsley is awake and she wants to talk about how Cinderella got to the ball. So pardon the abrupt end to this post, but I have work to do.


Alex said... [Reply]

Beautifully put.

Elizabeth said... [Reply]

I'm another stranger that reads your blog -- but am an FSO so imagine we might meet one day in this small world! I, too, blog as a way of keeping in touch with my family but regret sometimes that I can't say what I'm really thinking about FS life due to the public nature of the blog. Keep it up!

Dorothy Handelman said... [Reply]

Donna-I am always happy to get updates on your life in Jordan and appreciate how precarious stability seems from your vantage point there. I wish you and yours a lovely summer and many opportunities to write idyllic conflict free posts. (And the self editing that goes along with the blogosphere impacts us all- but hopefully in a good way.) Keep up the good work!!

Mrs. Dreaming said... [Reply]

I'm one of those strangers who found your blog while you were in China. I like to think that if we met at FSI, or when I go on an overseas TDY - that we could start a friendship. I admire your honesty and love the way you write about regular life. I hope you enjoy your time back "home".

Heather Dray said... [Reply]

Yes, exactly what you said - about 'home', stability, Syria, everything. Yes, yes, yes. I can't have put it into words any more perfectly. Thank you.

Elizabeth C said... [Reply]

I certainly count as a stranger, the wife of an FSO hopeful, and have found your blog to be the best account of real family life that one day may resemble ours. Thanks for sharing all that you do!

Danielle said... [Reply]

I read the first line of this post and thought "yes! exactly!" It's hard to know what to write sometimes when so many different people are reading.

Just US said... [Reply]

Exactly! Great post! Home truly becomes a fluid concept in this lifestyle.

Nomads By Nature said... [Reply]

I started following your blog when you were in Beijing. We had recently left that post and reading about your experiences there was a connection to that home that can never be ours again. And when you write about Jordan, we remember an amazing week visiting there and the similarities to the lives we had in Oman, another home of memories.

I think that is what links the Foreign Service Family together - the experience that the world is our neighborhood and a part of who we are, who are children are, even when the roots of our homeland welcome us to whichever corner in which we land for a while.

It's probably good that we self edit what we publish when describing this lifestyle because we are all on a journey of growth and learning. Choosing what not to tell is a discipline of grace.

Donna said... [Reply]

You guys! Thanks for all of the nice comments. The upside of having random folks start reading one's blog? I've met some great people out there, and found some really interesting blogs to eavesdrop on, myself. Thanks for the reminder.

Brooke said... [Reply]

I just really liked this post. We lived in Jordan a little while back and I remember hailing a cab - sweating in my long sleeves and long pants :)

Sara said... [Reply]

We just returned "home" to Mexico City the night before last, though the boys are at their uncle's home in WI for the month, and we were just in Northern VA to turn over our permanent "home" to new renters on July 1. This concept is very confusing particularly for FS kids (some of whom are not even sure what their "native" language is). (from Sara from Almaty)

Sara said... [Reply]

We just returned "home" to Mexico City the night before last, though the boys are at their uncle's home in WI for the month, and we were just in Northern VA to turn over our permanent "home" to new renters on July 1. This concept is very confusing particularly for FS kids (some of whom are not even sure what their "native" language is). (from Sara from Almaty)

Please. Write your own stuff.