Monday, July 4, 2011

I will miss you, United States of America

I am sitting here in my absurdly small room at the W Hotel in New York City, next to my peacefully asleep Son in an equally absurdly small crib and I am trying to deal with a bit of emotion on the eve of my departure for strange lands. In a way, this feels like the second time I am leaving my home to go somewhere completely new and unknown. The first time was in August 1996, when I climbed on fateful Czech Airlines flight from Sofia, Bulgaria to Portland, Maine, and at that point I was sure that my life was over. I think I can honestly say that if there was a graceful way to turn around and run back home that day, I would have done it. I was only 19 and I was leaving behind my home, my family and my friends. I didn't know anyone in the US (save for a handful of my high school classmates, dispersed at various colleges around the US) and had no family there. It was hell. But I made it work.
I love my newly adopted country. I fell in love here, made fabulous friends, got married and had my baby, learned a thing or two about shoes and acquired a healthy obsession with dresses. I got my education here, then my first job, bought my first convertible and my first home. I truly believe that this is a place where anything is possible.
And so, now you'll understand why I cried today at Ronald Reagan National Airport while I was waiting to board the US Air shuttle to NYC. Of course, the circumstances couldn't be more different now--I am going away with my family, I know way more about Bangladesh than I knew when I first came to Maine, I have a phenomenal job waiting for me there, I know most of my colleagues and apparently the American Club is a riot. Life will be fascinating, challenging and unique. And there will be domestic help...
And yet, the feeling of sadness remains--I will miss you, United States of America.
See you all on the other side of the Atlantic--I am off to Bulgaria tomorrow to drop off Son to his Baba (my mom) en route to Bangladesh.

In other news, the Diplomat made it to Dhaka and has informed me that our new swanky digs boast 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. I shall enjoy using each one of them in turn to bring constant excitement and an element of surprise in my Dhaka life.

One parting thought that has been pestering me. Those of you coming into the Foreign Service will find that the most often asked and equally highly irritating question in response to you telling the inquirer what you do, is, "um, so what is the Foreign Service--like, the CIA?" with a variation on the last one with "the Army,""the Navy,""the FBI,""the UN" and so forth. You will try to politely avoid it but in the end you will blurt out--"No, I am  diplomat!" which will often be met with even more confusion until in the end the person talking to you will be firmly convinced that you are a Chinese spy. Or an Ambassador TO the U.S. Or an impostor. Have fun.

11 comments:

  1. Hope you got to Dhaka safe and sound. Dhaka just got a lot more fabulous. Give my best to the Diplomat!

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is a touching farewell note to america. I am sure you will enjoy your stay at various locations around the world with your positive approach to life and with our blessings.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dano vsichko v Bangladesh da e po med i maslo...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Though you are probably traveling right now and won't get this comment until later, I wanted to thank you for your blog. I am a 22 year old first year grad student from the midwest, and I've been considering a career with the State dept for some time.
    Family is important to me and your insights on being a mom as well as a FSO have been incredibly wonderful to read.
    I do have a question for you, when ever you have time next to answer it:

    I have a boyfriend (who might soon be a fiance), who isn't necessarily as excited about a career with the State Department as I am. He is afraid that if I were to become a FSO, there would be times where I would be required to to live and travel without him for a couple of years. How do you make this work?

    any advice would be great..

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you all for the wonderful, thoughtful comments!

    Lisa, I will not sugar coat it for you--there are tours that do not allow spouses/partners to go with you. Those are typically for a year and send you to AIP (Afgh, Iraq, Pak). However, I believe that if he finds a job at the Embassy there, he can come along with you. There are a good number of husbands in the FS. Some are happy and find jobs within the embassy or outside economy, consult or write or teach. Some are not. I strongly believe one needs to go into this with eyes wide open. At the same time, they also need to keep their minds wide open as well--you never know what will happen and how wonderful it will turn out to be. I say--go for it if you are interested. It takes a long time for the process and you never know what will happen a year frmom now--maybe he will change his mind.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You've been featured on this week's State Department Roundup. Check it out at www.theworldthatwelivein.com

    If you'd rather not be included this week, please let me know and I'll remove you.

    Thanks for writing such a great blog!

    (loved this post!!)

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a beautiful and poignant post! Happy travels and enjoy making your mark on Bangladesh :) We will miss you in D.C. (despite rarely actually managing to see you -- oops!)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Diplomatic Mom! I felt like crying! You write so well!
    Congratulations for everything you achieved!
    By the way, where did you study Law?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I went to Fordham Law. Go Rams (I think).

    ReplyDelete