Monday, May 27, 2013

Nothing But Time

Normally, I think of all sorts of ideas for blog topics, but then find I lack the time to write them all down. Something about being a working mom-of-four, perhaps?

Tonight, though, I have all sorts of time. The Secretary of State is back in town, for the second time this week, and I pulled the overnight shift at the press filing center.

So I am here in the center, trying desperately to stay awake. It's only 1 am, which means I have another five hours to go. Yawnstretchyawn.

There are no reporters here. They mostly finished their work a few hours ago and headed up to bed. I've talked to exactly two human beings since I arrived here. Come to think of it, if it weren't for the fact that it's the middle of the night and I love my sleep, this could be the perfect job for a lazy introvert like me. I don't have to talk to anyone! Or do anything, really, except eat cookies. Tragically, I am down to my last two cookies. Why didn't I think to bring the whole box, exactly?

Anyway. Here I sit with hours of free time stretching ahead, whether I want them or not. And, technically speaking, I should probably stay awake. If I can. Yawnstretchyawn. The last time I pulled an all-nighter was, well, never. Even in college, if the paper wasn't done by 1 am, I slapped an ending on it and went to bed.

So what to do with these hours of free time? Blog, naturally!

Today, Sunday, we celebrated Memorial Day here in Jordan. Because we have a Sunday-to-Thursday work week, we celebrate Monday holidays a day early. The Embassy was closed (Ha! Closed, but everyone was working to support the SecState visit, so not much of a holiday for anyone.). The school, however, was in session - they don't get all of the American holidays.

So after I got the kids on the bus, I went to the gym for a quick workout, then met my husband for lunch at an outdoor cafe, followed a visit to the coffee shop. Aside: there is now officially a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf franchise here in Amman. Joy of joys! I have already been twice, and I am currently suffering severe flashbacks to the days in the late '90s when me n my friend Pete, who is now a famous published children's author, used to sneak out of work at the ad agency just about every afternoon to go to CB&TL. I miss those days. I really do. And if your kids haven't read any of Pete's books, go start with Herbert's Wormhole. It's an awesome book, as are both its author and its illustrator Ro, another ad agency type from back in the day.

Anyway. We sat there, my husband and I, talking about big topics like The Past and The Future. You know: the stuff you can't cover with kids underfoot. He leaves for Baghdad four weeks from today, which means there's been a lot of Future talk in our household recently. The whole thing is starting to feel really real. Sort of. We're trying to figure out how to divide tasks like banking, how to manage the kids' expectations, how to keep in touch with one another, how to celebrate the big holidays without a dad in the house... that sort of stuff. It's really quite surreal, the fact that this is going to happen any minute now.

Add that to the fact that we have a "sort of" onward assignment to plan for as well. Awhile back we were assigned to Moscow, Russia, which means we will theoretically be heading there next summer for a two-year tour. I say theoretically because, as those of you who know us in real life will likely recall, we actually had to leave Moscow twice when we were last posted there. The first time we left, it was the Americans who told us to leave, with less than 24 hours notice, because Bart's specific situation there became suddenly tenuous. If it weren't for our awesome DCM, who fought hard to get us back, that would've been it for us. But fight he did (thanks John!), and we returned, only to be kicked out a short while later by the Russian side.

Hence the "sort of" qualification. We have the assignment, yes we do, but I'll believe it when we're actually ensconced in our tiny house on the compound in downtown Moscow. Until then, I'm going to assume that anything could happen, and I refuse to do any planning for the post. It's the perfect place for us in many ways, as we're both Russian scholars (we met in graduate school, when he was the cutest PhD candidate at USC and the two of us taught Russian to pay our way through school), but if it doesn't work out, that's fine, too. I'm a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason, and so whatever happens in this case is exactly what's supposed to happen, nothing more, nothing less.

So you see? Big topics in our household these days. The Past. The Future. Four weeks from now. One year from now. I'm floating through it all, myself, watching it all unfold somewhat dispassionately, which drives my husband up the wall, no doubt. But for me, it's not real until it happens. Which means four weeks from now, I'll have to deal with it. But not today. Today, it was enough to simply sit in the sunshine and share a meal with my husband, squeeze in a workout, and take a nap in preparation for tonight's marathon sleepless adventure. I'll deal with Baghdad when it gets here. Which it apparently will, four weeks from today.

Ready or not.

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