I’m lucky. I used to joke with my sister that I live a charmed life. It doesn’t happen all the time, of course. Objectively speaking, when an event can go one way or the other, I’m probably just as likely to grab a handful of thorns as I am to pluck a rose. But I have been on the winning side of fate’s coin toss at least a fair number of times.
My home leave was a lucky roll of the dice. Foreign Service officers are eligible for 30 days of home leave after a tour of duty. Home leave is a time when we can re-acclimate to America. If the timing works out, we can take the full 30 days. But not everyone gets all the home leave that they are eligible for. Timing can force people to cut their home leave short. Although home leave is a requirement, it isn’t guaranteed that we can take it all. According to The Rules, we must take at least 20 days of home leave. But many officers can barely take even that. Training schedules and dates that we have to report to our next post don’t always allow the full 30 days. Sometimes people even have to get “permission” not to take even the required 20 days. In fact, according to some of my more experienced co-workers, officers rarely get to enjoy the full 30 days of home leave.
Here’s where the charmed life thing comes in. Home leave timing worked out perfectly for me. I was able to depart from my previous post (more or less) on time, arrange all of the required training for my next job, and still fit in the full 30 days of home leave. The only sacrifice on my part was staying at my previous post a few weeks longer than I needed to do. But because I liked the work at my last post, staying a few extra weeks wasn’t a personal burden.
Even though I was home for 30 days, the time flew by. Some unexpected problems with my house ate into the time, but I was able to visit with most of the people that I wanted to see, take a backpacking trip to Isle Royale, spend some good quality time with my family, and eat food that I craved when I was in China (I’m talking about you, Chipotle!).
Home leave is over now. I am now on my way back to DC for training. After six weeks of job skills training, language training starts in September. The last time I went to DC for training, I was alone. This time, though, my wife will be with me the whole time. We will have the shared experience of being language learners, and enjoy being empty nesters in a tiny nest in DC. I’m looking forward to this next step in our adventure.
But, dang, that 30 days went by fast.