We are back in Amman after a whirlwind 2 weeks in Southern California.
You guys, you guys, you have no idea how much I have to say.
We rented a house in Belmont Shore, the last place we lived before joining the Foreign Service. We haven't set foot in California since the year 2000, when our first son was born there. So as you might imagine, it was an odd feeling to be there again, looking out at the Pacific Ocean.
When we lived there, we were poor as can be: Bart was a grad student and I was working my way up in the advertising industry. He had to head south to teach courses at UC Irvine, and I worked in west LA, so we rented a teensy house above a garage in Belmont Shore to split the commute.
I walked past that house one day last week. It's pretty much the same, but oh, how I've changed since then. Babies born, and babies lost. Languages learned and new friends made. So much happiness, and sadness, and fear, and loneliness and worry and laughter and tears, have been mine since the day I packed up and moved to DC to be with Bart. Truth be told, it was a little bit overwhelming to stand there again in front of that creaky old house and watch my life flash before my eyes. But I was with my son, and he had only so much tolerance for my flashbacks, so I walked on.
Two weeks was not enough time to do everything we wanted to do. But it was plenty all the same. My parents came down for a week. Bart's parents flew out and stayed the whole time. My sister, the best girlfriend I have in this world, flew down from Seattle with her daughter for not-enough-days. Our best friends from here in Amman stayed with us for a whole week, which meant that even while I was silently reminiscing about my old life in Los Angeles, we were all laughing out loud together about our days here in Amman.
We met up with some old friends from our California days, but we didn't manage to connect with everyone. I find myself hoping that it won't be another 12 years before I get my chance.
The kids loved it. And what's not to love? Life in the states is so... well, easy, I guess. The stores make sense, and the signs make sense, and the highways go to places I know. Not to say Amman is hard, but - my friends in the FS will know what I'm trying to say here, I'm sure. Somehow, no matter how comfortable you may get at a post, it just isn't home. You settle in, you find your way, and you never realize how tense you always are until you leave again. The weight comes off your shoulders somehow, a weight you maybe didn't even notice was there.
I feel weighted down again, now, back in Amman. As soon as we got off the plane, we stood in line to get our diplomatic passports stamped, and we found our luggage, and why do you have to send your luggage through an x-ray machine before you remove it from the airport? And why is that lady walking straight at me as if she doesn't see me, when all she has to do is move a little to the left and I'm the one carrying heavy luggage and dragging a 4-year-old? And what does that sign say? And look, kids, a camel! And everything brown and tan and faded instead of blue and green and shiny.
All the same, it is good to be home again in Amman, and it was good to be home again in Los Angeles, and it is good to know that I am mostly happy with the myriad ways I've changed and the crazy things I've learned, about myself and the world, since I left Los Angeles all those years ago.
I will be back with pictures from our trip just as soon as the kids give me a turn on the computer so I can download them.