Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What's a good word for "scary, exciting, and overwhelming"?

I've had the experience before of being about one week out from moving abroad, and it can be a bit distressing. The last time, I was moving to Japan with basically no idea what I was going to encounter. This time, it's a bit better, because I have talked to a few different people in Astana and been able to ask lots of questions, but as our departure time draws closer, nervous energy starts to wind its way through everything I do.

We're almost as prepared as we could possibly be. In the past couple of weeks, we have put so many orders in to Amazon for clothes, shoes, electronic accessories, chargers and guitar strings that I would imagine the folks at the warehouse take periodic swims in the money they've made. We've sorted our pack out, done rough calculations of what consumables (e.g. hot sauce and mouthwash) we will need, made and worked through extensive to-do lists, and Google Streetview-ed our new town... but I just can't shake the feeling that there is more we could do.

I know there is, actually. That much has been made clear. A few weeks ago, I went to a spouse seminar at the Foreign Service Institute just days after the Generalist class (the other group that Susie is not a part of) had their Flag Day and found out where they were posted. The spouses were abuzz; they hadn't even had a chance to initiate contact with their post, and suddenly they realized how much they had to do before they left. Most of what we talked about that day was what everyone needed to do before they left. But first, as is done with so many seminars, we went through the class one person at a time, stood up, said where we were going and what we were looking forward to. We also said when we were scheduled to leave. After the first half-dozen or so people had done their introductions and explained that they were worried they wouldn't have enough time, they were leaving in July... I could sympathize, but I realized that it was August, and that they meant July of next year.

The air got sucked out of the room when I told them "We're leaving next month on the 13th." I was one of two or three other Specialist spouses, and we all were surprised by how much time the other people were getting, and how little our time seemed in comparison. They were panicking that they would only have 12 months to get ready, and I hadn't even begun to worry about how little time we got. It just seemed like "Not a lot of time, but plenty to do everything we need in."

Well, now that it's down to just over a week of time before we leave, I'm beginning to feel the pressure. Not really of needing to get things done. There are things we will surely miss, mistakes that we'll make, games and clothes we'll pack in the wrong boxes, but I know we've got most of it under control... it's more of an intense feeling of impending change.

When I moved to Japan, it didn't hit me until the night before I flew out. It hit me hard: I would be away from my family for the first time ever. I would be away from Susie. I didn't know anyone where I was going, I didn't know how I would get around, what my job would be, and I had never really spoken Japanese to anyone without knowing that they could speak English with me if I failed. It was intimidating, to say the least.

This one isn't going to be nearly as rough, but last night the same sort of unease began to creep upon me. I'm not going to be here anymore. I'm going to be there. Not on vacation... living there.

It's staggering.

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