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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:

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

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Hanging out with elephants in Phuket, Thailand

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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

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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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If I ran away…

I’m not entirely sure where I’d go.  Really, running away would first require me to actually find my running shoes (I work out in bare feet) because there is way too much trash and probably cholera outside my door to just let my feet go bare.  However, the thickness of the callouses on my feet would probably save me. I really need a pedicure.  Anyway, if I could run away today, I’d probably run all the way to the capitol and somehow convince all of the armed guards at the Serena Hotel to let me in so I could get one of those awesome lemon zest facials.  It’s been years since I’ve been there, so I hope the spa is actually still running.  This could be one seriously disappointing run-away if I ran the whole way only to find that the spa is out of commission.  After the facial, I’d see if they could squeeze me in for a pedicure and grind off all the nastiness on the soles of my feet.  Once that’s over and my feet are shaped into feet again, I would mozy on over to their awesome little bakery where they sell those beautiful french pastries that taste just as good as they look. I would eat probably 2 or 3 of them, because they were always only like a dollar each.  Hey, I just dropped like $200 on my spa bill, so I’ve gotta be a financially responsible adult now.  I know, I know, I just left my husband and toddler daughter by themselves without notice so I could have a fantasy run-away to a swanky hotel… I’m probably not what you’d consider a responsible adult right now.  Oh, and I’d get the Twinings strawberry mango tea, too… which was always stupidly overpriced.  The Serena knows a lady’s weakness.  Then, I’d drop another $250 on a hotel room.  I would go up and sit in the perfectly clean tub in the lavender scented bathroom for as long as the water would stay hot.  After all, my legs are probably pretty sore from that run from River City, which went from sea level to more than 5000 feet and was something like 90 miles long (in this run-away fantasy, I’m also in Kenyan olympian runner shape).  By this point, I should probably call Levi and let him know I’m just having a short, imaginary overnight by myself and that I wasn’t kidnapped by the Taliban or Al Qaeda.  He’ll be relieved.

Actual me (not fantasy run-away me) at the Serena back in 2008.

I really do love my life here, but I can’t lie to you and say that every day is rosy posy perfect.  I have some pull-my-hair-out frustrating days.  Days when my patience is down to dental floss-width… and then that very realization reminds me that I forgot to brush Laila’s teeth today.  Days when I find myself yelling at my kid several decibels louder than the situation really calls for.  Days when the toot tree outside is making a huge mess and everyone is dragging those stupid little purple berries in on their shoes.  But that’s ok because the ants will just come inside and eat all of the remnants.  Yes, ants… all over my hallway.  Ants mixed in with the purple rug stains.

But, pretty soon, my neighbor will call out over our compound wall “Laila’s mom!  Are you there?!  Come chat!”  I love that part of my day.  People like her are the reason I love living here.  Levi will come home from work and I’ll be able to retreat to the kitchen for solitude and a cup of PG Tips, and I’ll gain back a little bit of the part of my mind that I lost this morning.  He’ll give me a back rub and a hug, and the world will be right again.

Don’t pity me.  This is just me having one of those days.  Tomorrow will be better.  It always is.  Unless I said that yesterday…

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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