Tag Archives: expat life

Our Summer in Exile

I know, I really stink at this blogging thing.  I only get around to it every few months, but I can honestly say that we’ve had a few things going on this summer.

On May 2nd, we received word that Levi’s grandmother had passed away.  Knowing that this news was coming any day, we pulled out our suitcases that morning and purchased airline tickets to make the long journey back to the States for the funeral.  I packed our bags that morning not knowing that I would actually be packing for the entire summer.  I ran around the house like a maniac having no clue that those would be my last precious few hours in the home and city that we’d grown to love so deeply.  As far as the actual trip back the the States goes, it was great.  Laila travelled like an absolute pro on those 16 hour flights… although it probably did help that she had endless cartoons and candy at her fingertips.  The funeral was a beautiful celebration of Grandma’s life, and we were grateful to have the time to both grieve and celebrate the sweet 91 years she spent on this earth.

We were on our way back and in Dubai when we received word that our expat staff evacuated to the capitol.  They’d been told that there were some possible threats to them, and that it might be best for them to leave town for a bit.  We weren’t entirely sure how serious things were.  Once we actually joined them in the capitol, the situation only further deteriorated and we slowly began to learn the reality that our time in River City was over.  When that reality finally sank in, I cried like a colicky baby: frequently and without warning.  There was one day when I think I literally cried about every 10 minutes… okay, probably more like every 5 minutes.

The thought of my neighbors, not seeing them, and then calling them to tell them that I didn’t know when or if I would be back was excruciating.  We and our expat co-workers were advised to leave the country for a while and get some space from the situation so we could begin to think clearly about how to proceed.  We all hopped on more planes and headed to Thailand for a month.  It was good to get some space, but there was still a lot of decisions to be made.  Where would we live?  Should we shut down our NGO?  While a lot of those questions have now been answered, we are still living in all kinds of ambiguity.

The icing on our smoldering cake of chaos is that I am also 5 months pregnant.  But despite our current state of crazy, this really is a wonderful thing- we were actually trying to get pregnant and had planned to go back to the States to give birth late this fall.  As of right now, that’s still the plan.  Life feels completely up in the air right now, but somehow, I’ve gotten to a place where I’m okay with that.

Right now, it looks like we’ll be living in the capitol for at least the next year and a half.  Honestly, just knowing that much is a relief.  Levi and I love that overpopulated, polluted, loud city with all our hearts… it’s a far cry from the villagey life we’ve been living in River City, but it was the place where we fell in love with the country and realized that we wanted to commit our lives to helping this broken land heal.  We lived there for about a year and a half in 2008 and 2009, so going back with a toddler this time will definitely put a new spin on things.

As far as the summer goes, it’s been bittersweet.  We’ve spent time in Thailand, Iran, Bahrain & Dubai this summer.  We’ve gotten to do a lot of traveling, but the truth is, I would far rather have been living in the city that I’ve called home for the last 18 months.  When I reflect on the “perks” of this life, I realize that they do come at the expense of domestic stability.  In three years, we’ve lived in 4 different homes, and we’re about to move into (temporary) number 5, which will hopefully allow us to find a more permanent number 6.  On the other hand, I realize that the pain that we feel now is the sorrow of lost love.  And we really, really loved River City.  I don’t regret a single day there.  I loved the work that we did, and I love the neighbors who treated me like one of their own.  But the pain of leaving still brings me to tears.  If you think we are totally cuckoo for continuing to live like this, I’m sure there’s a well-organized club you could join… probably with hats, t-shirts and stationary.  But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Here are some photos of our summer:


Laila and me with my two beautiful sisters, Anna & Sally.


Hanging out with elephants in Phuket, Thailand


My little frequent flier waiting at some gate at some airport in some country. In her 2 1/2 years, she’s been on 59 different flights.

Laila sitting atop a bronze camel in Dubai.

In front of The Greek Shipwreck in Kish, Iran


Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


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