Sunday, November 24, 2013

Best laid plans

So...I owe you all a blog post or four.  Where did we last leave off in this silly farce that is mine and Nick's life in the Foreign Service?

Right, the US Government had just extended the evacuation again at the end of August.  Well, they did it again at the end of September; I told my bosses I'd stay until at least December 1.  And then the US Government extended the order again at the end of October; I told my bosses I'd stay until the end of January. And then, just one week after that fifth extension, the US Government lifted the evacuation order.

Yay!  And also Ugh, with a healthy does of Really?!

From the very beginning of this crazy saga, the timing of each development couldn't have been more ridiculous, which is why I've decided that we're living a farce.  For example, I've been living in NYC for two years, during which time the Egyptian people/government/military could have had themselves as many revolutions of significant size to force the evacuation of US diplomatic personnel as they liked.  But, nope, they did it just as I'm preparing to move to Cairo, throwing Nick and me headlong into five months of living in limbo and forcing us to scrap all of our carefully laid plans.

And then the US Government went and lifted the evacuation order ONE WEEK after extending it for another "30 days" -- one week after Nick and I made the decision that I would stay in NYC until his home leave in January, and one week after I'd already told everyone in NYC that they get to keep me around for another few months.  So Nick and I found ourselves having the "does Liz stay or does Liz go" discussion all over again.

And of course this all just happened to occur around the time of Nick's home leave.  First, a little explanation for those faithful readers not in the foreign service biz:  in order to bring his first two-year tour in Cairo to a close and commence his second tour, in mid-January Nick must return to (and stay in) the US for 20 business days.  And in order for me to be eligible to travel (on the government's dime) with him from Cairo to the US and back during his home leave, I'm required to have been living in Cairo for at least 30 days before departure.

This is why we had to push my departure date all the way back to February when the evacuation order was extended at the end of October.  With the evacuation supposedly lasting until the end of November, and with my promise to my job that I'd give them six weeks notice of my departure date, there was no way for me to make it to Cairo by the 30-day deadline (December 12).  And so Nick and I were forced to accept the fact that we'd be separated until at least February...maybe longer.

And then, just one week later, the government went and changed its mind about extending the evacuation order through November, and Nick and I were forced to re-examine the question of my departure date.  Should I give notice immediately and rush to get my butt to Cairo by December 12?  Should I pursue a more leisurely schedule -- say, arrive in Cairo around Christmas -- and then just pay out-of-pocket to travel to the US with Nick a few weeks later?  Or should we just leave me in NYC for Nick to collect during his home leave?  Luckily Nick is a good decider (unlike yours truly), and he quickly and mostly painlessly made the decision that I should stay until February.  His only request was that I come to Cairo for the holidays.  So in the end I'll be flying to Cairo on December 21, returning to NYC on January 3, moving out of my apartment on January 31, and then moving to Cairo for good on February 19.

If this saga sounds like it's been a lot to deal with -- a lot of dates, a lot of variables, a lot of decisions, a lot of planning and a lot of canceled plans -- well, yeah, it has been.  I am so very, very tired of this saga.  At least now the end is in sight.  Fingers crossed it stays that way.

And I haven't even mentioned the saga of the US Government and those evacuation payments I mentioned in my previous blog post, or the saga of the US Government and Nick's attempts to become a tenured foreign service officer.  But I think I've whined enough for one blog post; gotta save some complaints for later.