Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The World Was Different Then

Six months ago, I was in California.

The world was different six months ago. My world.

We were talking, back then, about our bid list. We'd turned in the bid on Baghdad, but we still needed to turn in a complete list of bids.

We were talking, believe it or not, about curtailing - about leaving post early because of a few possibly insurmountable problems we were facing here in Amman.

We were talking about marriage, and the future, and the foreign service, and all of the big topics that we don't have time to discuss on an ordinary work day. And we were doing it all in the same little town where we'd been living when this whole crazy foreign service thing first came into our lives.

I don't know. It feels like a lot has changed in these past six months. I have a clearer picture now of where the next year-and-a-half is going to take me, of what sorts of storms I'll be weathering in the next few months. But beyond that? It's all a bit murky, in ways I hadn't anticipated. I guess, six months ago, I thought I'd be on a clear path by now. But all around me, things shift, things change, the path itself obscured by the dust of all these looming decisions.

At the beginning of every year, I make a plan, for myself and for my family. I look back at the last year, trying to figure out if I got where I intended to go, financially, emotionally, professionally. And then I plan out the next year in my head, and the next five years, and sometimes even the next ten. Where do I want to be in those time frames?

Usually this is a pretty basic exercise, and often my answers are similar from one year to the next. I find this comforting on some level: sure, I might not ever get where I'm going, but at least I know where it is I'm headed.

But now, this year, I'm struggling for reasons I can't exactly explain. Mid-life crisis? Perhaps, but I think that's overly simplistic. No, I think it's because the choices I'm facing right now are different from the usual. And of course, knowing that Baghdad looms large, and not being able, just yet, to peer beyond that, leaves me a bit unsettled. What's next, after Baghdad?

Yes. I'm aware that it may seem strange to be looking past Baghdad already, when it hasn't even started. But I'm used to planning my life in these chunks: one year, three years, five...

So I'm struggling, I guess, with the long-range plans, in a way I didn't think I'd be, just six months ago.

Am I even making sense here? Dunno. But I'm thinking on it, in my spare time - my piles and piles of spare time! And I'm trying hard to pick a future, for myself and for my family. I'll get there. I always do. But for now - I suppose I need to wait for the path ahead to clear, for the now to become the then, and for everything I'm living now to make sense.

I'll get there.


Nomads By Nature said... [Reply]

I think when we make plans and dreams with bidding we are gazing only at the summit of the goals, rather than some of the trenches we pass thorough to realize them. And some of those unplotted trenches have sharp corners that are disorienting because they cut down vision to almost nothing and make you second guess the wisdom of the path you were so sure of just a while back. Your road will straighten up and the path will lighten up. And I think you have some great friends there and on the internet to cheer you on. Kinda like the guides up in the life guard platforms when you try going through a huge corn maze. At least that is how I picture the turns and confusions of life's paths when friends are there to help you warrior on.

Jill said... [Reply]

I reach for my keypad many times to type out a note for you - and then stop myself for silly reasons because I feel like you have such a support network there, that despite a note coming from "just" me (someone who has been down your path twice now) won't matter. THEN I feel silly that I don't press send ... because I know that it really DOES matter. It always helped me to know that people who are/were in my same situation "get it". Which is almost why being here in the States these last few years have actually been a wee bit awkward ... because no matter how many times you attempt to explain or allude to something or wish they could understand the ins and outs of why something is great or stinks or why "this" lifestyle IS so very different than the typical 8 - 5 job. Unless you're IN it. You just can't.

So I'm just here to say that this blog post made more sense to me than I could ever explain. And despite the distance. Or not being a staple in your life. Just know that you struck a chord here with me. And any time you want to chat, skype, talk, whatever, I'm around.

Becky said... [Reply]

This post made me want to give you a big hug. I can't even describe why it resonates but it does. Hang in there. As always, you guys will come through it with flying colors. I am sure of that. I hope you find the support and peace you need in the meantime. Thinking of you.

Donna said... [Reply]

You guys. You guys are awesome.

Popster said... [Reply]

rbalcsiNomads, Jill, and Becky pretty much says it all. None except those who walk in your shoes can ever truly understand your problems. We who love you can only be there to support you when you need support.
I do sense though that you may be transitioning from a youth with an endless summer mindset to a more mature mindset which wants to have a less fragile world with borders. Be aware, this is called the aging process and it ain't for wimps.

Like the old USMC re-up poster said: We grow too soon old and too late smart.

Please. Write your own stuff.