Normally, my response would be to not read the news, but here, that's a big part of my job: monitoring the press, both foreign and domestic. So I read, and I worry, and I wait, along with the rest of the world.
It's a little bit different than usual, because my husband isn't here. He's in a war zone of his own, with his own worries - if you're following the news out of Iraq, you know that he had a particularly busy day today. Always during past crises, I've been "the wife of the RSO," which means nothing at all, really, except that people somehow think I know something, and they're constantly pressing me for details: will we be evacuated? When, where, how? Now, I'm just another body, waiting. No one asks me anything, no one needs me to talk them down from the ledge. I'm pretty anonymous over here. So that's different.
It's also different because my eldest child knows exactly what is going on. He and his friends at school have been talking about go-bags and chemical weapons and evacuations. They compare whose parents have packed their suitcases already, and whose parents would need to stay behind to work, and whose parents stay up late talking about where to go if we suddenly need to leave.
I've tried to answer his questions honestly and well, but let me tell you: nowhere in the parenting manuals does it give you an appropriate answer when asked, by your 13-year-old, "what happens if they launch chemical weapons at us?"
So he understandably worries about what he hears. I've told him: all of these things we have, in this house? They are just things. Nothing more. If we need to pack up and leave, none of these things go with us. I told him to think about his things: what matters, what doesn't?
It's a good exercise, really, even if you aren't facing a possible evacuation. What do you own that is important to you? Think about it, right now - it defines who you are, so think hard. What do you really need in this world? Who do you really need?
My go-bag is a blue plastic expandable envelope that's stuffed with school records, passports, house and tax information, insurance cards, shot records, wills.... That's the nuts and bolts that you need when you leave a place. Beyond that, I guess I'd bring some special photos, my iPad, my camera, my workout gear. That's all I really need to stay sane and connected in this world. For the rest, I can buy it all at Target if I need to.
When we first joined up all those years ago, I heard the story about a woman who had to evacuate in a hurry and stuffed her suitcase full of ball gowns. No undies, no socks, nothing but ball gowns. Everyone thought she was crazy, but she pointed out that she'd had those gowns made all over the world, just precisely how she wanted them. New undies, she could buy at the mall. The ball gowns were priceless to her. Funny story, yes. But that's a woman who knew what was important to her.
There is no news from here, other than to say that for now, we are here, with no plans to leave. And we are thinking about the people and things that are important to us. We are thinking about you.
Watch this space. If there's more to tell, I'll tell it here.