Two weeks and change left before we bid adieu to Kenya and close the book on our first Foreign Service tour overseas.
While it feels strange to pack up the house and say our goodbyes, it feels even more surreal to experience nostalgia for the people, things, and places we’ve come to love and which continue to surround us every day, palpably reminding us by their very presence of the small negative space they will create in our lives when we return to the United States after two years in East Africa. Yesterday after work we went to play Ultimate Frisbee, like we have most Fridays for the past two years. A couple of nights before, we had lain in bed sharing a deep melancholy, already missing the things we will miss about Kenya, including Nairobi’s Ultimate community, which has provided us with a pastime, a social group, and some of our closest friendships here.
There are, of course, things we won’t miss: the traffic, potholed streets, and matatus that make driving in Nairobi a nightmare; the predictably erratic quality of food at most good restaurants and the flippant attitude towards service of many employees in the service industry; the heightened security situation which has us living on a heavily guarded compound and taking extra precautions because we know people who have been victims of carjackings and home invasions.
For the most part, however, Kenya has been a dream assignment and the small list of negatives is greatly overshadowed by all the things we love about serving here: the country’s natural beauty, which offers virtually unlimited opportunities for sightseeing and exploration; our jobs, which are both interesting and fulfilling; our comfortable living conditions; the vibrant expat community and social scene. Even the somewhat dysfunctional mechanics of everyday living have come to feel comfortably familiar in a way that reminds us of our past experiences living abroad in Latin America.
Predictably, the nostalgia has hit our puppy even harder than it has affected us. She has always been a bit clingy, frequently following us around from room to room so that she can always keep an eye on us. In recent days, however, she has become much more persistent about demanding our attention, as if attempting to distract us with her toys in a bid to forestall the changes to her surroundings brought about by our packing. At the risk of anthropomorphizing her behavior, it feels almost as if she is trying to get as much playtime in as possible before we leave her for the summer.