Monday, June 18, 2012

And so it begins...

I probably should have started blogging long ago. When we first started this process I was so desperate for any information that I scanned every blog that had anything to do with the Foreign Service. I kept wondering why no one was talking about the things I felt I needed to know! How long will this take? What should I do? How can we plan for something so life-altering while knowing the chances of it actually happening are so slim? Am I going to have to wear high heels and take etiquette classes (oh god, I hope not).

I guess the answer is: you don’t really start blogging until you figure out that you have no idea what is going on, and then you just go with it. (Well, that and the fact that you soon find you’re grateful for any excuse to take a break from packing up your house...).  

M and I returned from our amazing East African wedding/honeymoon trip in mid-January. Before we left, M had completed the application process, taken the written test, passed the ridiculously hard and highly anticipated oral test (!!!) and was able to complete everything he needed for his security clearance. Each of these was probably worth it's own blog post, but it's always hard to write with confidence when facing so much uncertainty. We were thrilled that, within days of our return, the security investigator called and told us he had submitted M’s name for clearance. This marked one of the final stages before M could be added to “the Register,” a list of scores or hundreds of names who had received provisional offers of employment, passed security and medical clearances, and checked all of the “suitability” boxes deemed necessary for a career in the Foreign Service.

We got the news about the final stage of the security process within a week of returning from our honeymoon, and spent the next few days dreaming even more of being so close to living the life we had always talked about. Visions of living overseas, experiencing different cultures, learning new languages, eating new foods, having children who appreciate all life, everywhere, and each of us being able to pursue and obtain meaningful careers that (hopefully) contribute to the good stuff in the world, swirled through our heads. We tried not to be too optimistic, however, since many people who get on the Register never actually get an offer, and M had applied to one of the most difficult cones to get into. I had, for that very reason, tacked on a year-long biomedical sciences certificate program onto my MPH studies just before we left for our wedding. We knew this process could take up to two years- if it happened at all. Regardless, we must have called each other ten times that morning, sometimes for no other reason than to just scream with excitement, and then talk each other back down to reality.

A week later, around lunchtime, M received an extraordinarily brief email from the State Department. In 2 short sentences, the messenger delivered the news that M had cleared security, cleared “final suitability review,” and been added to the Register. And, oh by the way, could he be available to start training on March 12? “We need a response by Monday.” It was Friday. March 12th was 5 weeks away.

Although some may have deliberated over the next 3 days, we were telling our families the news, celebrating and toasting champagne by dinnertime. This was actually happening!!

Over the next week, reality started to sink in. M had to be in D.C., but my program didn't end until July and I wanted to stay and finish up one of our biggest programs at work. I still hadn't submitted my master's thesis. If I moved to D.C. I would be leaving school, leaving work, and living in a one-bedroom apartment with two dogs and no job. And, let’s just say, I've never played the role of housewife well. Our decision soon became clear: though we had just been married, we now had no real choice but to live apart for several months.

 The next few weeks were filled with chaos. Between work obligations, mid-terms, boring political and lawyer functions, celebratory happy hours, family dinners and wonderful evenings with our wonderful friends, time was sucked away from us. We managed to drain every last drop of fun and love out of every passing minute. Saturday morning, March 10th, M woke me up by softly singing Leaving on a Jet Plane. While crying, I kissed him and smiled for him, told him that I'd wait for him, and held him like I'd never let him go.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the FS! I look forward to reading about your adventures. I'm a new EFM/blogger (married in April) also. My husband and I area headed to El Salvador in a few weeks!