So many people have questioned our decision to be in Cairo these days. It is hard to explain to the people who love us, and want us to be safe.
We joined the foreign service as a family. Yes, it is my husband’s dream career, but this is not the sort of decision one makes lightly. We believe so strongly in peace, in engagement, and cliché as it may sound, in making the world better – safer. This is what we are doing here. We are meeting people, and we represent our country as best as we can. My husband works to foster relationships and trade, to make friends. If we all rely on each other through trade, economic ties, and other common goals, we cannot afford to fight.
If people meet our family, see us treat each other with love and respect, and see that all of us, all over the world have so much in common, they have faces and relationships to go with what is otherwise just known as “the Americans.”
The last few weeks have been hard. I won’t lie. We live in a safe place, but it always seems so fragile. We have friends at the embassy in Ankara. (They are all okay, thank heavens.) This life is not abstract. What happens in other countries is not far removed and sterilized by the distance of a television screen.
I recently read the following paragraphs in Katrina Kenison’s book Mitten Strings for God, and while she is referring to their lives post 9/11, it applies very much to our lives here in Cairo right now:
While confusion and sadness and anger swirl around us, and while many hard questions continue to go unanswered, we’ve discovered that one thing remains clear and simple: in our house, within these walls, and in our dealings with others, we can strive to live in peace. As we carry on the mundane work of family life… we have a newfound sense of some larger purpose, a shared vision that defines us, holds us together, makes each moment seem more precious.
(Note: Buy that book. Read it. Underline every second sentence. )
I miss my northern Virgina home, our postage stamp sized garden, the long chats with my husband on the commute in, the early sunrise gleaming off the Jefferson memorial as we cross the 14th Street bridge. Some days I want nothing more than a trip to Target – a little mindless retail therapy, a cup of coffee in my Mom and Dad’s kitchen, sushi at the all you can eat place with my brother.
We have been here for six months, and I have been challenged to grow more in these six months than in many years I spent in other places. I am challenged to become the mother I want to be to my sons despite the world around us. I’m challenged to become the woman I want to be without making the always obvious excuses. This is our life for the next three years. I must, and can, make it work.