My husband frequently encourages me to blog which I have not done so since August when my laptop was stolen. Story for another day. But lately he has been more persistent knowing that I need a creative release to deal with the stress of the Foreign Service assignment bid cycle that we have been enduring since June. He has even made suggestions for topics such as, “Why I think it wrong for a Diplomat to eat asparagus off the kitchen floor”. Based on a true incident. Obviously. He also thought it would be funny to joke about the research I did into the foreign countries we might find ourselves, and why elephants causing traffic jams are better to deal with than an Embassy’s medical unit having a large supply of snake venom antidote. If you are curious, this is where I get my unfiltered expat info – Real Post Reports
Ironically, the need to be diplomatic, as a diplomat’s wife, has held me back from blogging — knowing that the anxiety of it all might prevent me being just that. But as of today I have changed my mind. And *spoiler alert* – this will by no means be diplomatic. Consider this a “First World Rant”, and if you have lost respect for me afterwards then so be it.
My husband just accepted his onward, 3 year assignment for the summer of 2016 to Canberra, Australia and I am anything but excited, because I categorically insisted that I would never move that far away. But he bid on it despite my protests, because his options closer to home had narrowed, and because it was considered a dream job for so many. I want to be thrilled for Steve — This position was very competitively sought after and he was offered the handshake deal. But you know the adage — “Happy wife’ happy life”. And I am not. So he is not so much. He tried to joke about the “hardships” we would suffer in Australia which are obviously de minimis. My son pointed out that at least we are not likely to worry about being kidnapped or worse – beheaded! These are real threats in many parts of the world and clearly a good point. I have no doubt that the land that makes UGG boots is a comfortable, if not wonderful place to experience. And safe for which I am grateful. But Australia is far. It is really, incredibly expensive and extremely far away from my friends, family and adult children. Virtual hugs are just not doing it for me anymore.
So why did he do it despite my protests? Because he is a very senior foreign service officer who was affected by a new edict that suddenly prohibited him from bidding on another Deputy Chief of Mission assignment anywhere in Europe. In addition, jobs being directed to people coming out of war zones as well as the glut of political appointees meant that the majority of the jobs my husband was seeking became obsolete. These obstacles not only affected my husband’s career moving forward, but it also has had a great bearing on where I, the “trailing spouse” (a term that I abhor and which you can read about in a great article HERE), get dragged along. The whole system is flawed in so many ways that I wish I could discuss in detail but can’t – or rather shouldn’t. I believe I might sound a bit bitter here. Intended.
So Steve had to cast a very wide net, and was noticed by the decision makers in the Asia/Pacific region, who by all accounts seem to be welcoming Steve with open arms. Amen to them. It all happened rather quickly, and well now it is official.
When I received the news on Monday, I actually started hyperventilating upon thinking how I was going to tell my mother. My girlfriend responded to my frantic text message with, ‘”Jesus! Get a fucking bag for chrissake!” (Her misspelling – not mine). A remark which momentarily made me laugh because I thought she called me “Jesus”, but then I started choking and scared the dog! And the dog should be scared because Australia has extremely stringent quarantine rules, so after 35 hours of flying, Lexi will be subjected to doggie prison for a minimum of 10 days with no contact from us. Not sure who’s psyche to attend to first, I did the only thing I could think of which was to grab my handbag and breath into it. Which didn’t work well. At all. So I began crying hysterically for the next 3 hours. The steam final blew off my stress valve and all the anger and fear I had been harboring about not having control of this screwed up process came tumbling out. Feel free to disrespect me at this point if need be. I couldn’t help it. But then I realized that I had a private concert to attend at the Ambassador’s residence, so I soaked my swollen eyeballs in ice, put on my Diplomat’s wife alter-ego face, and looked convincingly together 45 minutes later. You could argue that I have multiple personality disorder, but my friend insisted that “Chicks can do shit like that and look like a million dollars two hours later”. I love her for that, and for sharing a whole lot of brownies and wine with me.
It was bound to happen. These kinds of things happen when an ENTJ marries an IFSP. I am a homebody. A certified, introverted homebody. Being a Diplomat’s wife, while rewarding at times, is really hard work to pull off gracefully with this DNA makeup. In addition, giving up my own career to move to Prague was HUGE for me. Income, independence, work colleagues. All of those things. Even when I was working in Baltimore and doing the long, exhaustive commutes to Halifax and Tijuana respectively, I still was hanging onto the safety net of what I know as “home”. And I know I have mentioned this before – FEAR OF FLYING! Yes. There is still that. And I am tired. Tired of the travel and the separation. How the hell I managed to fall in love with an extroverted, traveling gypsy that is part of a diplomatic fraternity that thinks it is fun to move every 2-3 years is beyond me.
And I miss my identity that isn’t just the label of “Diplomat’s wife”. Whatever that is. Or was. If one more person asks “what I do all day” I will punch them hard. In the nuts (assuming they have them), which is not very lady-like, and not my typical modis operandi. BUT it almost happened yesterday to a guy dressed in a full body, fluffy shark costume in Prague, as he tried to hug me with his fins. Seriously. True story, and not because he asked about my professional aspirations. He was well past the personal space comfort zone, but I was by myself, probably looking abysmal after tears and no sleep, out on a mission to walk and think things through. This was after a solemn morning with Steve who left me alone to digest the news. So In retrospect I probably should have accepted the creepy guy shark hug. A hug is a hug, right? But then I looked past him and saw these through a window……
and like a dog seeing a squirrel, I was suddenly mesmerized by shoes! Retail therapy – A shopping sedative to take your mind off the obvious for a little while. Except that the only currency that I had on my person was the 500 Czech crowns that Steve handed me when we parted ways. I will do the math for you. $20 USD. Not enough to buy shoes at all. And to add insult to injury – UGGs on display to taunt me.
Now I was on a mission for a distraction and with only $20 burning a hole in my pocket, I needed to find something to spend my money on other than a Starbuck’s latte in a controversial holiday cup. So I wandered and found myself in the jigsaw puzzle section of the toy store…. Which is a good thing because puzzles relax me and I needed a dose of that. After eyeing the 3000 piece “Van Gogh” that I couldn’t afford because I mistakenly dipped into my wad of cash for a bottle of water and bathroom visit, I bought this Botero….
because it made me laugh. Hysterically. In the middle of the store as I envisioned myself stress eating batch after batch of brownies which I am known to do as noted above, AND looking this Rubenesque by the time I potentially reach Australia. Steve would no doubt, would be looking at me in the way the painter is looking at this luscious woman, because he loves me no matter what. I know this.
But I have decisions and choices to make that will no doubt involve more separation. I am trying to be kind and patient with myself as I work through this and the fact that my other BFF just pointed out that kangaroos can be real assholes. Seriously. In the meantime, it is time to slip on my UGGs and search out the remaining brownies.