Wednesday, January 1, 2014



It's going to be one of those years that comes around pretty frequently in the Foreign Service, the type we all dread and love in equal measure.

This is going to be a year of Big Changes. We're leaving Amman in June, presumably to Moscow, although nothing is set in stone yet, so there's no planning yet to be done. Things change in an instant, so I've been cautiously telling people that we'll be there by August, fingers only sometimes crossed behind my back.

Leaving is hard, but now that it's officially the Year of Leaving, it's time to start facing it.

You know, I've loved and lost and laughed and cried here, sometimes all in one day. And of course, there's nothing special in that - it's a universal story. But 2013 took me to places I never imagined I'd go, emotionally, physically, geographically, even. I grew in ways I didn't expect I would, and I found myself facing troubles I hadn't anticipated. It's weird, the things life throws your way when you're not expecting them. Friendships change you, marriages change you, children change you: all around me, change, in every direction.

2014 won't be different. I expect to face a lot of big, life-changing decisions in the coming months. When to say yes? When to decline? Do I walk away smiling, or lace up my shoes and run like hell? Or maybe stay standing, right where I am? All real options for me in 2014.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see where I spend New Year's Eve next year, and in whose company. Everything is up in the air during a Year of Leaving in the Foreign Service.

This time around, the kids and I went to Mr. and Mrs. Cantaloupe's house to ring in the new year. The GlobeHoppers were there, too, and I think Mrs. GlobeHopper said it best when she said New Year's Eve was spent with "Amman Family." This because the people here have all become my family in the truest sense of the word. Not just the Cantaloupes and the GlobeHoppers, but CL and STJ, Paleo and VP, uhh-Ron and his wife, GF and her husband... These people have been large contributors to my laughter (and occasionally my tears) over the past few years. So it was an "easy" party for me. Normally I'm too much of an introvert, and too deaf, to really enjoy myself at parties. But this was fun, and funny, and comfortable. Inside jokes were created all evening long, many of them inappropriate (sorry, Kat!). Mr. Cantaloupe had a bit too much soda, and GF overdosed on the gluten - crazy crowd I roll with!

The kids were all there too, and all relatively well-behaved. At about two minutes til midnight, though, Ainsley walked in sobbing. It seems she'd managed to shut her fingers in a door. So she sat in my lap and cried while everyone counted down to midnight, glasses of champagne or sparkling cider at the ready. As the clock struck twelve, the kids bounced around trying to steal sips of champagne, the adults cheered, and Ainsley snuggled into me, sniffling heavily.

After she drank her cider, she went from person to person showing them her owwie, first CL, then Paleo, and so on, before settling into uhh-Ron's arms. He rocked her until she fell asleep, and then he put her on the couch, head in Mrs. Uhh-Ron's lap. Mr. Cantaloupe found a blanket and covered her up. She stayed there sleeping until the rest of the kids were ready to go home, and then CL picked her up, carried her to the car, buckled her in and kissed her sleeping little head.

I was overcome, really. This is why I chose to stay here while Bart pushed through the Baghdad tour. Because here, I have friends looking out for me, loving on my kids, expanding my definition of family. That small 15-minute story, played out by Ainsley and the grown-ups in the room, made me realize anew how very, very fortunate I am to have so many special people surrounding me.

So. Big changes ahead in 2014, both good and bad. All in all, I'd have to say I'm happy with what 2013 brought me - no regrets here. And I'm as ready as I can be for whatever 2014 decides to send my way.


Bfiles said... [Reply]

beautiful post. I love the "year of leaving" phrase- totally apt for our life. Last year when I was leaving the DR that's all I could think about come NY's.
And what dear friends. Lovely.

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