Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hidden Rewards

From time to time I write about things that have some relation to Foreign Service life but are not necessarily things you would consider part of this journey. Moving around the world with no idea where you will first be assigned presents challenges and changes that you cannot imagine when you first see the email telling you you have been selected to join the Foreign Service. I guess life is a revolving process in general and Foreign Service life is no exception.

Today I delved into a project I have been avoiding for months. You know what I mean; everyone out there has a drawer or a room or a stack of something sitting in a corner that they keep meaning to get to but somehow never seem to find the time. Actually we all know the answer to why those things don't get done but we would rather not face the truth: that there are so many more fun and interesting things we would rather do with our time. Putting these tasks off only makes things worse and makes it all the easier to avoid; after all, we have created lots of practice avoiding those chores and now we are good at it. Well, for me, that task is unpacking the three large wardrobe boxes in the hall of my apartment. Now, I have lived here for 16 months and those boxes have been there the whole time. Luckily for me they are in the hallway leading to my bedrooms, so my guests have not had to witness my laziness directly. Nonetheless, it hit me the other day that in just a little over 8 months I will be packing to leave here and there is no good reason those boxes should not be unpacked by now.

So onward I went to dive into clothes I had not seen since I packed out of Austin in March 2008. What a revelation! It was as though looking through all those old clothes, I could see my life flashing before me in a wardrobe sort of scene setter. I guess I was trying to find myself for the past few years because some of those clothing choices were really ugly to be honest. For instance, I had several blouses that were orange. I don't even look good in orange. And what about clothing with color names that don't make sense? There was a cozy corduroy shirt that can only be described as the color salmon--definitely a color for a dead fish and not for me. And what about that day-glow lime green Polo sweater? Even though it was on sale, what was I thinking? You could see me coming down the road a mile away in the dark in that thing. There was some good news. I realized that most of my clothing was Ann Taylor and Polo and Gap--fairly decent brand names, so I have had decent taste even if I don't always get the color right. I purchased most of those clothes on sale or at the outlet mall because I well remember how poor I was during that time, but nevertheless I managed to look ok, despite a very tiny clothing budget. Another bit of good news was the clothing sizes I found in the boxes. Literally everything was too big for me. I tried on a couple of pairs of pants--sort of hoping I might be able to retain them and increase my wardrobe here in shopping-deprived Sierra Leone, but every single item was too large. I am happy to relate that all those miles of running have paid off because I am definitely a slimmer me than I was 18 months ago. Then there were the nostalgia items: Ryan's high school graduation robe complete with Valedictorian metals and National Honor Society sash. I had two lovely gowns; one from Allison's wedding and the periwinkle blue formal from Angela's wedding. Somehow the movers packed Laura's prom dress in my boxes and at a size 3/4 it's definitely too small for me. I found my grandmothers pink sweater that I gave her just before she died, my other grandmothers christening dress from 1905, several German dresses from Bavaria and even my old bowling shirt circa 1980. (did you know that I have bowled several 200 games and even a 600 series?) All those memories had been waiting for me and all I had to do was unpack them. To celebrate the big mess of hangers and stacks of clothes I have ready to give away, I happened to notice a wad of something in the pocket of that hideous orange stripped shirt I mentioned earlier. Guess what? I found $60.00! So to all of you out there who are avoiding that area of your life that needs doing, maybe you should think about tackling that project; you just mind find more rewards than you anticipated.


Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for awhile and have enjoyed your perspective of where you're at and the people you've met. It sounds like a wonderful life. I will be attending orientation/training (OMS) next month and am looking forward to making similar memories and relating similar stories. Best wishes to you on your new posting in Berlin - that sounds liek it will be a great place to be, too!


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