Our next-door neighbor (also foreign service, like most in our complex) told us his family calls the month or so before leaving for post “the tunnel” and explained the odd experience of time seeming to move faster and faster the closer the end of the tunnel looms. We’ve definitely experienced that over the last several weeks. It seems like ages ago that I last posted here but it also seems like yesterday. And here we are with our temporary home that, for a while, felt so permanent looking and feeling very temporary again. After the movers left yesterday I pulled these reminders of temporariness out of the cupboards where I’d stashed them. Our home is a big hotel room again.
Everything except what (we hope) will fit easily in our car is on its way to Mexico. We succeeded in clearing all the bureaucratic hurdles and have in our possession passports (tourist and diplomatic), visas, and Global Entry cards for each member of the family. Our travel orders seem to be in order. We’ve seen a picture of “our” house in Mexico. I have some pesos in my wallet, courtesy of neighbors here who just came back from Juárez. It’s all very real now.
Somehow it still doesn’t feel that way, though. With a week on the road ahead of us it’s almost impossible for me to envision us semi-settled in Mexico. I guess there’s still just too much between us and our ultimate destination. Too many goodbyes, too many miles, too much we still can’t know just yet. It’s further real-life instruction for me in letting life happen and not overthinking it or wishing to control it. I have to acknowledge that all of this is good for me – good for me in my faith, good for me emotionally, and, it would seem, good for me physically. In an unexpected development I’ve stopped taking blood pressure medication for the first time since the weeks after Isaiah’s birth and my blood pressure is staying lower than it had generally been when I was on the meds all those years. (And I can tell you it’s not clean living that’s helping me out – we’ve been to many happy hours and eaten many over-the-top meals here.)
While I think without a doubt this life is proving to be good for me, it’s definitely not easy. One of the bittersweet elements, and a special challenge as we’re poised to leave, is how transient everything is. I have roots in New Mexico and in Oak Cliff, deepened over years and years of living in those places. I initially feared that the transience of this life would feel empty by comparison. What I’m finding so far, though, is that it has its own strange kind of permanence. We’ve been in the DC area just shy of four months, but in that short time we’ve all bonded more quickly and more deeply with friends here than we could have anticipated. The shared experience of transience definitely imparts an urgency and intensity to friendships that wouldn’t feel natural in other settings. At least as we say goodbye to friends we’ve made here we know there’s a chance – in some cases a pretty good chance – we’ll intersect again, whether here or elsewhere in the world.
It’s hard to leave the DC area thinking of all the things we had intended to do and never did (poor Marisela, whose sole touristic wish – to visit the Lincoln Memorial – was not realized) and the people we had hoped to see and did not see (most of Andrés’ EPA-OIG colleagues, old family friends, high school friends of mine). I had hoped to attend services at the National Cathedral, and even had big plans to ride my bike there. Never made it. But something we hadn’t really accounted for in our plans (in addition to the weather, which dissuaded the kids with their Dallas-set inner thermostats from getting out much until recently) was the fact that we would be living regular life here. Regular life with homework and school events and errands to run. And it’s this super-intensified version of regular life, where friendships burn hard and bright because tomorrow somebody is moving on. So instead of sightseeing every Wednesday afternoon when the kids had short school days we usually opted to hang out and enjoy the abundant social opportunities at our apartment complex. I didn’t make it to the National Cathedral, but we found a spiritual home at our neighborhood church. Ultimately I think Marisela probably feels like leaving here having made so many friends is a better deal than leaving here having seen all the sights, or at least I hope she does. We will be back, of course. And will once again probably see less than we’d intended to see.
The next few nights we’ll be in Tennessee. Then Louisiana, Texas, Texas, Texas . . . then finally home to Juárez. And a whole new whirlwind round of foreign service life begins.
(left of us are future Juárez neighbors . . . they’ll be heading to the border in a few months)