Early in the morning of Wednesday, November 9, my husband sent me a text from the embassy’s election night party. He had decided to retire from the Foreign Service.
The FSO had already been planning to retire in the next few years. The timeline has just been moved up due to what you might call extenuating circumstances. The plan right now is to wrap up this tour in Warsaw next summer, then call it a day.
Retirement doesn’t mean the FSO is about to take up golf, however. This is retirement with a small “r.” A shorter, hopefully less stressful, second career will certainly follow. And maybe even something for me? Resumés are being polished up around here!
While I would never have wished for the election to turn out the way it did, this outcome is a silver lining as far as I am concerned. I’ve been checking in with myself over the last three weeks to see if I have any mixed feelings about it. Um, no.
I realized a few months ago that I was mentally checked out of the Foreign Service already. I actually felt much better once I realized what was going on and just went with the flow. Someone who should know told me, “when you’re done, you’re done.” And she was right.
What next? Well, the original plan was to go back to DC. And that’s still probably where we will end up. But it’s not settled yet.
We’ve decided, given the current political and social climate at home, that we could keep rolling for a couple more years, after all. But the next “post” has to fall within certain parameters.
- It must be one non-stop flight from the States. The parents aren’t getting any younger, and our kids will most likely both be in the States, as well.
- It must have a do-able language, meaning one that we already speak or which isn’t all that necessary to work or get by. Because, you know, living in a language-isolated bubble gets old after a while.
- It must be less polluted than Warsaw, because I don’t especially enjoy wheezing, coughing and having red eyes all the time. Also, yuck.
- It must have an easier winter than Poland, at the very least more sun. Pretty sure that would include almost every city in western Europe.*
The State Department has steadfastly refused to post us to western Europe for the last 25+ years, despite multiple bids. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, you know. Maybe we’ll have better luck with another organization. It’s worth a shot. Anything is better than going through bidding for the 257th time.
So, we’re going to see what’s out there. I just spent another weekend in big, noisy, multi-cultural Brussels, for example. What an interesting city. Great food, too. Lots of organizations, lots of jobs. I even had five years of French in school to give me a running start. It’s possible there could be a place for a recently retired FSO somewhere in the mix. Or in another European city with international organizations. Who knows?
If Europe doesn’t work out, then we’ll go back to the States. We’re good with that as well. With both kids out of college and the well-earned Foreign Service pension we have some time to figure it all out. We feel very lucky to have options at this particular time. Very lucky, indeed.
We will definitely settle down one day. Soon. A month ago, that day was seemed closer than it does now. But all things considered, I’m OK with staying out of the States for a couple more years. Yeah, that sounds good.
Just as long as it is not with the State Department. Because I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life 🙂
*I think we are all entitled to our climatic preferences. If you must live on a tropical beach to be happy, then that is what you must do. If you makes you happy to hole up and talk about hygge for six months a year, you must do that. So, if you think winter in Warsaw is awesome, I can respect that. But, you are welcome to it.