We are not returning to Cairo. Our next post will likely be announced in the coming month, but in the meantime, we are here in Arlington, trying to get ready for what comes next, and trying to make peace with the goodbyes we won’t get to say.
There are so many things we didn’t get to do while we were there. “We are here for three years” we’d say. “We can come back.” When seeing things I wanted: “I want to shop around first,” I’d say. Except that I will never get the Bedouin tent for the kids, or the brass table with the folding wooden legs. Or the metalwork lamps I wanted made into a chandelier. Maybe we could go back to Cairo some day, but it won’t be soon, I’m sure.
I’ll miss my Cairo friends, I’ll miss my beautiful apartment. I never got to the Egyptian Museum, or the Dashur pyramids. My husband never even got to go to the Giza pyramids with the boys – I took them on a weekday.
Future expats, pay attention. Here’s some things I did wrong, and I’m telling you so you don’t make my mistakes.
- It took me a long time to make friends. I didn’t go to the baby groups or the coffee mornings because I was working. I should have taken advantage of my flexible schedule more often. When I finally started making friends I met the most incredible group of women you can imagine. They became my tribe, and made hardship easier, fun funnier, and life better all around.
- I didn’t explore the city. Cairo has much to offer, but I was always nervous going places by myself. I should have taken advantage of more opportunities with local groups, or even arranged tour guides on my own instead of waiting for my husband to have more free time. Be a tourist in your city. And don’t wait until the month before you leave.
- Buyer’s remorse is real. And for a deliberate shopper like me, the regret is almost always that I didn’t buy. If you see something unique, don’t wait. You don’t know that you’ll be back or that it will still be there when you come back.
- I didn’t share our experiences here in this space. I always thought I would have a chance to show you the amazing things we saw and experienced. Luckily, I keep a journal, and this is one regret I can still fix. I’ll do a few “retroactive” Egypt posts for your reading and viewing pleasure.
I’m trying to learn my lessons and enjoy our time here in DC as a tourist in the city where I lived for 10 years. And for our next assignment, I’m making a bucket list and will start checking that list the minute we are wheels down.
Now is real, now is today, and ultimately now is all we have. Carpe diem friends.