Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wrap it up

Our boxes are packed and waiting for Fed-Ex to come pick them up. We're down to our suitcases now and figuring out who gets what in their carry-ons.

I sat outside to read a Laurell K. Hamilton book for a few minutes this morning, taking a break from all the getting-ready. I felt like I was sitting in the wake of a truck's exhaust pipe every time the breeze blew, which isn't nearly as pleasant as it sounds. But I didn't hurry back inside either. We're at the tail-end--or tailpipe end in this case--of our time here, and I'm not looking to rush through it.

On the way to pick the kids up from school this afternoon, I was listening to a Paul Potts song Ron had put in the cd player. Since it was in Italian, I'm not sure about what song it was, but I think it was "My Way." It's kind of a weepy song, or at least this version was. Frank Sinatra's version? Not so much. And although I didn't feel weepy, I did feel homesick for Qatar all of a sudden. So I figured now is as good a time as any to write my wrapping-it-up post.

When we told people we were coming here for a semester, everyone (except for a friend of ours who is in the Service and knows better) was concerned about our safety. It's easy to view the Middle East as one big place--and a big place of danger at that. I was concerned, too, when Ron first mentioned the possibility to me. But now I'm much more concerned about our safety when we move back to Pittsburgh, let along Chicago, for crying out loud. I'm going to miss the peace I've felt here.

And the ease of life. I finished writing one book here and began and finished the first draft of a second one. I'll never have time like this again: time with my kids, my husband, and alone.

When I was in college, I spent a summer in Kauai working at a vegetarian cafe in Kapaa. I think about my months there all of the time. It's been 18 years since I was there (ack!), but I'm still benefiting from the experience. I can't even begin to fathom how long I'll be benefiting from this one.

I've made friends from all over the world and some from Pittsburgh that I didn't even meet until we got here. I've watched my children make friends from Holland and Australia and Bahrain and Scotland and Nigeria, and I can't describe how happy it has made me to see that--corny as it sounds--there really is such a thing as world peace when you look at a school full of kids from 42 different countries dancing on stage in a "Tribute to the Netherlands." Watching that tribute last week as we all clapped along to what sounded like a Dutch drinking song made me cry in a happy and sad sort of way. Happy because I'm so glad we came here. Sad because my kids will never get to do anything like this again, and I feel guilty for taking them away from it.

And, chances are, I won't get to do anything like this again.

The world is a lot smaller today for me than it was four and a half months ago. It's also a lot more beautiful and meaningful . . . and sad and troubled. My heart is full of love for people I see struggling here, and it's also breaking for the reminder that too many people do just that all over the world as we argue about race and politics and religion and boxers versus briefs when, for God's sake, isn't there a better way to figure out how to live and let live? Or even worse, they struggle in Myanmar or Lebanon or China or right next door while we click through the remote looking for something that will tear us away from a reality we should be paying a lot more attention to.

Sigh. Soap box not just set aside now, but completely disassembled and packed up for shipping.

We'll be home soon. I just hope we're able to not just wrap things up here, but wrap up a little bit of here and take it with us.