“I live in America now,” I say, my voice growing quiet and then rising at the end of the sentence as if it is a question. But I’m pretty sure this statement is a fact. Our grand home in Iceland has been emptied out and I distinctly recall boarding an airplane, flying over Greenland, and heading far away from Reykjavik. Somewhere in one of my suitcases is a copy of official government travel orders that confirm our domicile and next posting as Washington, DC. And yet, despite the paperwork and crystal clear memories of an airplane flight, I’m not really convinced that I live here. Not yet.
In the nearly three weeks since we were “wheels up,” as they say, we’ve been in California on Home Leave, the break the State Department gives diplomats returning from overseas service before starting their next assignment. The first week back in the US was all family, all the time. Mr. Green was with us while we spent extraordinary amounts of time with my relatives. And then in a flash, he headed back to DC for training and I took the kids and went with my parents and sister’s family to a tent-cabin in the mountains. Escaping from everything, at the Lair of the Bear, I met up with dear old college friends, donned ridiculous costumes, threw outrageous themed cocktail parties, got fantastically dirty, and enjoyed the endless stretch of pine trees and the blue mountain lake at a family camp I’ve loved since I was seven years old. But return from the Lair is never easy. And for me, it meant coming back to this state of inbetweeness.
Back in Los Angeles, I’ve tried to catch up with old friends and do the classic touristy stuff with the kids, flipping on that rusty old switch that allows me to be a super-in-the-know native Angelino. And while I pretend to still know what I’m doing here, I’m also trying to figure out where here is exactly and when I’m going and where I’m going, at what point I’ll be at that next here. Somehow, while trying to find a sacred hour or two to work on my editing and writing projects (oh yeah, that career), I’m also fielding calls from the lovely and super efficient Mr. Green in DC about the delivery of our storage, or how long it will be before we get a family cell phone plan, or how he needs to get a DC driver’s license before the public elementary school will accept the children (because the deed to our home and our new utility bills are not enough). There’s nothing like the return from an overseas post to make everything seem upside down, to make this girl feel totally unbalanced.
And today, I’ve been pretty grumpy about it. Thing is, I really like routine. I like being in my own house. I crave order. And I think America is pretty amazing. So if you offered it to me now, I’d jump at the chance to never move again. At this point, I’m ready to just get to DC, get our new house unpacked, put the kids in a regular program, and get myself back to work. I know that I’ve raved about this crazy nomadic lifestyle, but today, I’d do anything to feel grounded.
Luckily, I’ve been here before. Isn’t it always week three of my living out of suitcases in my parent’s house where I end up complaining? Isn’t this always the point where I want to throw something against a wall because if feels impossible to have a career and have these long stretches of serious transition. Don’t I usually start dreading all the crap that comes with setting up a house and moving to a new city, right about day 21? And isn’t this always about the time when I want to inhabit my own space more than anything?
Thankfully, the bitter bit has hit while I’m in gloriously sunny southern California. I have fabulous lifelong friends still to see and a short-list of favorite places still to visit. And now that I’ve bitched about this f-up, super-long-hazy-lost-in-space period, I think I’ll go try to do one late-night hour of work, then email my oldest dearest ladies about fitting in a spa day. Better that then start to think about how, in just a few days, I’ll lug my two children, five suitcases, and three carryon bags through LAX to try to forge our way through to our next adventure.