Monday, May 7, 2012

Ten Years Ago Today

Shortly before there was "the plan" between my husband and me to live abroad, there was "the trip." Beginning ten years ago today, I took off on an eight-month backpacking trip around the world. (Technically it was "around the world" as I continued to head east the whole way until popping up on the other side; however, there were a handful of continents I missed.) This period in my life is on my mind now not only because it's the 10th anniversary, but because it was that trip that solidified my drive to have a life that reached further than my neighborhood. At that time although I obviously knew about embassies and Ambassadors and diplomats, I'd never heard of the Foreign Service, per se. I didn't have a Master's degree in international relations (or any other subject, for that matter); I just knew in a misty sort of way that I wanted to do something on a larger scale.

SEATAC Airport Homecoming 2002


Ten years later, have I succeeded?

Does being an OMS in an embassy equate to "something larger"? I'm going to say yes, it does.

I'm not out there negotiating hostage releases or preserving endangered species and the forests they live in - true. But I do have a front-row seat to those who are and do. The piece of the pie for an OMS is to do all the stuff that would otherwise occupy the time of the people who ARE out negotiating treaties, or insuring intellectual property rights, or hashing out agreements on fishing permits, or ensuring that the military equipment we give other countries ends up in the right hands. I'm surrounded by important stuff, even if I'm simply making the travel arrangements for those who are DOING it.

I suppose I could feel inferior for taking this supportive role, but I don't. An OMS should like to make things easier on people, and I do. It was just a little thing, but one of my proudest moments in my new job was to receive an e-mail from a government traveler from DC who I'd been helping, who said, "It's people like you who give working for the government a good name."  It's not an international treaty - but it made me feel successful.

Plus, for my own part and that of my husband's, we're living "the plan" in an ever-changing and ever-challenging life that keeps us feeling alive. Yes, it keeps us complaining, adjusting, and hoping, too - but doesn't that happen in any life? It may have taken ten years (well, nine as we started last year), but I do feel like I've realized a dream, reached a horizon.

So now that I'm feeling settled and satisfied, another thought comes to mind. To explain it, I have to (roughly) quote one of my favorite movies: "There is no end-zone dance; you're never finished!" I learned on Friday that the person only three spots ahead of me on the Consular Register just got an invitation to A-100 for July. As my husband said, "fasten your seat belts!"  These coming months could get interesting!

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