Many things about our state department life are temporary. There are things which we eventually always give back, both physically and mentally, things real and remembered, tangible and intangible. We walk away from them, we brush our hands off on our pants and just walk away. Some easily and some not so. Our life is both awesome and heartbreaking in that way.
Our homes, including all the little nuances that come along with them, leaky roofs, ant problems, the sounds of bugs outside our windows at night. They are all not ours. We'll give back keys, badges, welcome kits, school uniforms and cell phones.
Some of these things we'll be dying to leave, like tiny temporary apartments and some of these things we'll never want to leave, like Brasilia and our friends.
With all that's left behind we still take a lot of stuff with us, 7,000 lbs to be exact, including furniture, books and treasures. We take a lot of photographs, memories and we’ve even been known to add a person here and there. However, as we prepare for India, it’s the things we don't give back, or rather can't that seem to trouble me the most. The things I’ll see that I wish I hadn't. Things I never knew existed, the poverty, the kids. The things that we just can't ever give back, the images in our minds.
No negatives to leave behind.
No prints to tear up.
The images both good and bad trapped in the single circular slide of my own personal Viewmaster.
Most places will be like this outside of our country, I know. We were spoiled in Brazil. We are spoiled in the United States. We take most things for granted, even each other.
I've just had a taste of the world, but I’m about to fill my mouth with reality the likes of which I’ve never sampled. I expect that it will be a bite so full of amazing flavors that I can’t taste them all and all at once so overpowering that I’ll have the urge to spit them all out and can't find a private place to do it.
I’ve moved from a place of anxiety and stress, to a place of acceptance and then back again. I know it’s coming, but like a tsunami wave, all I can do are heed the warnings, move my heart to a higher ground and hold on for dear life.
We are lucky, we always have a safe place in which to retire, our house, which will probably be the nicest neighborhood in all of the city. It is both comforting and absolutely revolting when people outside our doors will have nothing. It is said that you can't help everyone and I don't even think it is within ones capacity to do so. They say you "do what you can," you help in the places where it is said are safe to help.
The first days and weeks in a new place are always intense, "Fight or flight" knows no fight" It is often absolutely paralyzed by the change. Each of your five senses is in alarm-mode. Nothing is familiar. But, this is a life we've chosen for ourselves and like everything else I do, I intend to do it well. So, I have goals this time. I'm going fight. I'm going to put on my backpack armed with the most powerful weapon I have, my camera, and I'm going to hit the streets.
I've begun to dream about our move. It always happens. The point where your conscious processing shuts down. System overload. My waking mind can't try to predict a second outside of the current chaos and thus my dreams take over.
The other night I dreamt about our Household Effects (HHE). That I went there, to the nothern-most point of Maryland, to pull a few things for our move and the warehouse couldn't find them. Our original semi-moving truck driver, from Florida, nearly four years ago, led me through labyrinths of warehouses filled with caged sofas and end tables and they eventually turned up in a sort of graveyard of HHE, buried six feet deep beneath the earth. Once dug up I couldn't find things I'd distinctly remembered sending there four years ago. Then things began to spontaneously set on fire. I could only find one small fire extinguisher and no one to help.
I'm giving my subconscious all the time it needs to work this out. I'm thankful that my waking hours are relatively calm and distracted with the sounds and needs of my children. I'm stocking film as furiously as our neighborhood squirrels stock acorns for winter. I feel mostly, like this year, however chaotic, has prepared me for my next great professional and personal assignment and I'm ready to begin.