About a week ago, I received an email from my husband.
Subject: Important message
Dobrá zpráva! Naše evropská dobrodružství začíná příští měsíc. Budeme se stěhovat do Prahy v září. Musíte najít svůj teplý kabát, a naučit se jíst knedlíky a omáčku. Náš pes se brzy naučí užít si sněhu.Strávíme Vánoce ve Vídni letos v zimě! Miluju tě.
Now unless you actually speak Czech, you will have no idea what he said. Nor did I, but it made me cry nonetheless as I knew it meant that moving to Prague was in our near future. How did I know this? Well let me start from the beginning……
Last August when we were preparing to leave Tijuana for our move to Tampa so that my husband could take on the 2 year assignment as the foreign policy advisor to the command of the US Special Forces, I started to get a bit cranky. While a prestigious job for Steve, I was less than thrilled about the idea of living in Tampa for 2 years. Maybe it had something with John Stewart’s less than favorable depiction during the Republican National Convention – http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-august-28-2012/rnc-2012—the-road-to-jeb-bush-2016, or maybe it was just the notion that it wasn’t a “Real Foreign Service” experience. Even Diplo-Dog wasn’t pleased with the idea of living there and posted on my blog to dissent. https://wendygblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/
So what did I do? I prayed, and I am not a particularly religious person, mind you. I prayed to the Foreign Service gods (and my deceased grandmother; AKA guardian angel) that an “urgent vacancy” would open up at an Embassy abroad. Meanwhile, I split my time between working in Baltimore and being with my husband & dog in Tampa. The only entity that benefited from this ridiculous arrangement was Southwest Airlines. I tried to like Tampa, I did. But John Stewart was right. It is a swamp with hot, steamy weather and poisonous frogs. Diplo-dog even had a run in with one and after an emergency trip to the vet hospital, came home with a fever & a really bad skin infection.
Then a tornado hit our building and ruined my gorgeous French pots that I had just shipped from Baltimore to try to make things feel more like “home”. If that weren’t enough, the company I was working for in Baltimore went bankrupt and 100 people lost their jobs –me included. Being the eternal optimist, I went after a sought-after job in my field. On the way to the interview my car overheated. Short story — I ruined the engine to the tune of $8,000 and did not get the job. Like I said – CRANKY! To add to my frustration, there were absolutely no emergency vacancies to be had in the Foreign Service.
Flash forward to the 3rd week of May. The conversation went something like this:
Me: I just don’t get it. In the almost 18 years of knowing you, there are ALWAYS emergency vacancies popping up all over the world. People retire early, get promoted, yada yada. What the hell? You would think something, anything would come up – take Prague for instance. Why can’t there be a vacancy there?
Steve: I don’t get it either. It really does seem to be a dry spell. Don’t worry, you will get through the summer.
Me: Don’t be mad if I escape the heat in August and flee to Baltimore.
Diplo-dog: I’m with Mommy (arf)
One week later. Another email from my husband.
Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2013 9:50 AM Subject: Urgent Vacancy: FE-OC DCM Prague
Text: EUR seeks bidders to fill the DCM position in Prague as an urgent vacancy. The FE-OC position will open in August 2013
OK. So I thought he was bullshitting me. Really I did. Especially since I had used Prague as my wishful example. A sign? And then we left for France. While waiting for the airport shuttle in Paris, I casually struck up a conversation with the lady next to me in line. “Where are you headed to?”, I asked. “Prague“, she said. Seriously?? I got excited. This too could be a sign.
We returned from Paris and no word from the State Department. My husband said not to get my hopes up — many, many people had bid on the job. SIGH. I channeled my thoughts to frigid winters and dumplings with gravy. Next thing I know, I turn on the TV and CNN is running a tourism ad. “Pretty”, I thought. Could be Prague. Sure enough it is a tourism ad for the Czech Republic http://www.czechtourism.com/n/czech-republic-land-of-stories/ Take me!! I will tell a story. Just let me come. In fact every time I turned to channel 600 – there it was again. Taunting me for weeks.
Now August. So much for the vacancy being an “emergency”. The State Department was dragging their heels. The wait continued. I worked at finding another job. I went car shopping. Steve and I took to serial watching the 5th season of “Breaking Bad” in the evenings to occupy our minds. Can’t go outside. It is August in Tampa. During one episode there was a reference to expanding the meth distribution to a European Country. Where you ask?? The Czech Republic! We looked at each other. “Not funny”, Steve said. A day later, Steve received an email from a colleague of his who needed to set up a phone conference. It was urgent he said, because he needed to speak before leaving for a 2 week trip to……Wait for it……. PRAGUE. Come on!! Then the following day, the lady at the jewelry store needed to tell me that her brother lives in Prague as if I needed one more reminder that I was going insane. Eleven weeks and still no answer.
Signs? Fate? Serendipity? Or, just a mixture of a very smart man, hard work, a bit of who you know, and a boat-load of luck. In any event. WE ARE MOVING TO PRAGUE!! My husband will be the Deputy Chief of Mission there, and I couldn’t be more excited. We depart next month, so lots to do. And in case you were wondering about that original cryptic email…….
Good news! Our European adventure begins next month. We will be moving to Prague in September. You have to find your warm coat, and learn how to eat dumplings and gravy. Our dog will soon learn to enjoy the snow. We will spend Christmas in Vienna this winter! I love you. Steve
Time to learn Czech. (Steve too. He doesn’t speak a lick of the language. Just taunting me with a bit of Google Translator torture)