Rookies on Home Leave
Veteran Foreign Service officers will split their home leave into two different sections: the family visits first and then the relaxation. They will spend the first 3 or 4 weeks of their time away from post visiting with relatives, taking care of miscellaneous “business” and in general, being useful. Then they will spend the last week relaxing on a beach somewhere, sipping drinks with umbrellas, watching their children build sand castles in front of tepid turquoise seawater.
We are not veterans.
Nope, we are rookies. So, despite the more than 3 months (4 for Ronit) that we have been in the US, we still spend the remaining 2 weeks of our home leave scrambling to finish shipments, visit friends and family, seeing doctors, and soaking up as much California sun (and Mexican food) as we possibly can. It is exhausting. It’s the kind of vacation you return from claiming you need a vacation.
We have been fruitful though. By that I mean we had a baby. Can you be any more fruitful than that without wearing a Chaquita basket on your head? We also stocked up on food and baby items for the next year. We have partially revised our wardrobes. We bought a house. We visited over 60 friends and family over the course of 3 weeks. And we drove our children absolutely batty with the amount of moving around we have done. It’s good for them. It builds character.
Here’s the run down for anyone keeping score at home:
On September 13th, myself, Ronit, Shai and Micah (age 8 weeks) drove from Orange County to Grass Valley to visit Gene, Ronit’s dad for three nights. We then drove to San Francisco to gallivant with the city folk there. We stayed with the Carkeys for three nights, visited my college peeps down on the Peninsula (thanks Sean & Cathy for hosting), saw my co-workers from Innovative Entertainment, had some delicious Mission burritos, and took Shai to see the sea lions at Fisherman’s Warf (something I never did when I actually lived in SF). Then we spent one night in Oakland, visiting Daniel and Marieka, who hosted yet another get together. After that we flew to Portland and stayed with my sister and her family for three nights. Ali and Judah were great hosts, which included watching Shai while we spent the better part of two days house hunting. At the beginning of the 2nd day, we found an amazing place, and Ronit immediately adapted to calling it “our home,” despite the fact that we hadn’t even put in a formal offer. We had a slight bidding battle with another potential buyer, but our crafty agent was able to sneak the deal through. It was not the fastest purchase she had seen, but it was certainly not a relaxing few days in Portland. After scrambling to sign papers, we drove up to Seattle to see our friends from Cambodia, John and Amy and their two kids who are around Shai’s age. The family left Cambodia abruptly after Amy was involved in a horrific car accident this summer. Shai didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to his friends, and it was wonderful for us to see John and Amy. She’s made tremendous progress, but still has a long way to go. Still, it felt very good to see her up and moving again. After that, we spent the night with my Uncle Mike and Aunt Luanne in their beautiful home in Redmond, WA. The next day we drove down to Gearhart, Oregon and met up with Ali, Judah, Maddie and Ian for a couple of relaxing nights at a rented beach house. Finally, the R&R I was craving. But it was short lived. On Sunday with drove back to Portland, had dinner with my Grandma Annette and my dad’s cousins, and then caught a flight on Monday morning back to Southern California. If that wasn’t enough of a whirlwind to do with a newborn, upon returning to CA, we then moved out of our rented apartment, stayed with Ronit’s mom for 2 nights, then flew to Chicago to visit Ronit’s sister Shana and her family. Despite only being there for 4 nights, it was the longest duration we had been in one place in over 3 weeks. Micah also started his 15 minutes of fame by making the Fan-Cam at a Blackhawks game (see Picasa album for his image on the jumbo-tron).
Now that we’re back in Southern California, we’ll split our time between Mission Viejo (Ruth’s house) and Upland (Joan & Neil’s house). We leave for Cambodia on October 17th. We are not stopping at Go, we are not collecting $200 (far from it) and we certainly aren’t visiting any tropical beaches. Not that I’m complaining about the generous hospitality from our parents, far from it. We do love seeing them, spending time with them, and mooching their food. They are happy to feed us in exchange for time with the grandkids. And although drinks with umbrellas were few and far between, connecting with friends and family has been equally refreshing.