I have a habit of stealing people’s catchy phrases for my blog titles. This time credit goes to Marisela. She’s our anxious girl. She can think of a million things to worry about, most fairly improbable but nonetheless very real and quite terrifying to her. When things clear up, though, and fears don’t materialize, she tells us “I feel good now. There’s nothing in my way!”
It’s all feeling much more manageable now. I am not unrelated to my daughter. I have an anxious streak. And I have a habit – I would like to think it’s not uniquely my habit, but maybe more of a human nature kind of thing – of feeling pretty overwhelmed when I find myself faced with a long list of tasks I need to perform within a tight timeframe, and freaking out a bit, and despairing of the possibility of actually getting it all done. It doesn’t help that FS life seems to involve a steady stream of tasks needing to be performed within a tight timeframe and not a lot of guidance as to how to manage it all. Actually, that’s not fair. Because really the problem isn’t that there isn’t enough guidance. It’s that there’s more guidance, coming from more people/offices/directions, than I can usefully process at once. And it is not always consistent. Even some of the documents to which we are often directed are not internally consistent (they so need a good editor). It’s the inevitable outcome, I’m sure, of a large bureaucracy managing something as unwieldy as moving entire families and all their possessions around the world over and over again, all the while trying to maintain optimal safety and health for all involved, and at as reasonable a cost as possible. It’s really a kind of crazy venture, so the complications are understandable, I suppose.
But I digress (as I tend to do). What I really set out to say is that things are falling into place. The initial rush of information we received about what to do and when to do it has subsided and we’ve been able – for the most part – to figure out what’s truly essential. The passport office at the Foreign Service Institute was wonderful. Friendly, helpful people. And quick turnaround time. I am actually not even a little bit dreading our trip next week to collect the tourist passports and apply for diplomatic passports and visas. (Though the visa applications are another office, so maybe I should dread that. Trying not to dread, though, in general. That really helps. Dreading, I find, actually doesn’t help in any way at all, and so I’m only half-kidding when I say I gave up dreading stuff for Lent.)
There I go digressing again. But maybe that wasn’t really a digression because I feel like part of what’s been good for me about this process is learning to let go of the anxiety over getting everything done and getting everything under control. It’s not going to be under control, really, ever. Some degree of chaos is going to be ever-present in this life, and anxiety and dread do not make the situation any better, but rather far worse. I’m sure there are FS horror stories where things don’t get done properly or on time and there are major, disruptive consequences, but generally speaking people seem to manage what they need to manage and get to their posts and all is well.
So now, just a few short weeks after I was in knots over the passport and car situation, neither of those things seems like a big deal. Andrés and the kids have tourist passports on the way. Next week, or perhaps the week after that, we go pick them up and apply for our diplomatic passports and visas. I am now a Global Entry-certified trusted traveler (no more taking shoes off at the airport for me!) and our car is in queue for its inspection when we reach the border. We’ve decided to embrace the opportunity for a family road trip and drive, since shipping the car might end up an even more complicated experience than a five-day road trip and since (we’ve heard) we’ll really, really need our car right away in Cd. Juárez.
We still have plenty to do. Andrés, of course, still has lots of coursework and studying ahead. We still have immunizations to get, “pack-out” to schedule (arranging for our things to get to CDJ – both from our apartment and from storage), a road trip to plan, and schools to consider. According the schedule we proposed we’re leaving Falls Church on May 6 and arriving in El Paso about a week later. That doesn’t give us a ton of time, but we’ll be fine. Nothing is in my way!