One day left, and I’m a jumble of emotions, grateful, relieved, worried, proud, excited and probably a dozen more.
I’ve been stressed out the last few weeks, trying to get all of the hundreds of pre-move administrative tasks completed, (USDA export certificates for our pets obtained, plane tickets obtained, household packed up, care picked up to be shipped to us, FSI classes completed, FSI checkout completed, old bank accounts closed, VPN set up, etc, etc, etc) One big task was getting our visas. That finally happened yesterday. I had been checking in at the Special Issuance Agency each time I was nearby for consultations, and each time the answer had been, “soon.” Finally on Friday afternoon (5 days before we leave) they told me that they were ready, but that they had been sent to the Employee Service Center at the Main State building, which had closed 30 minutes prior, and would reopen on Monday morning. Monday morning (2 days before we leave) I went to the ESC and picked up the passports. When I checked the visas, my family’s were all ok, but mine was missing some necessary information. 2 trips to the Nigerian Embassy and several telephone calls between me, the Special Issuance Agency, and the Nigerian Embassy later, and We finally all have our visas. My stress about our checklist has mostly become relief.
I’m excited to finally start the work for which I was hired. I’ve never had a job before with a 4 month training period. I think I’ll really enjoy consular work, and Nigeria promises to be an interesting place to do it. I’m excited to experience a new continent, and for my kids to start getting the multi-cultural experiences we wanted for them when we decided to pursue this career. I’m excited to meet my new colleagues and neighbors.
I’m proud to be an American as we celebrate our independence. We visited the National Archives a few weeks ago, and I literally had chills as I viewed the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. I’m proud of our national commitment to democracy, to equality, to freedom, and to diversity. I’m proud to be an official representative of the United States to Nigeria.
The Fourth of July has always been of of our family’s favorite holidays. It was an all-day production in our small rural Utah hometown, starting with a pancake breakfast at the park, then the volunteer fire department would bring a truck and set up a giant slip-and-slide watered by their hoses. We would eat BBQ hotdogs, corn on the cob, watermelon. There was a dance (my daughter’s favorite part), and of course, fireworks. I’m sad for my children that they don’t get to experience that anymore. I’m excited for the Consulate and Embassy 4th of July parties that we will get to experience. I’m grateful that my family is supporting me and coming with me on this Foreign Service adventure. I’m worried about the impact of all of this change on my family, even as the rational part of my brain thinks that it will ultimately be a great thing for them. I’m particularly grateful for my wife, as she has jumped into this with both feet, even in the current environment of a hiring freeze for the jobs typically filled by spouses at our overseas missions. I’m grateful for her trust and confidence in me.
Happy Birthday America! Today we’ll find new ways to celebrate, we’ll make new memories, we’ll find ways to tie in old traditions in a new place. Tomorrow, we get on a plane, and the adventure continues.