Unlike many of our Foreign Service colleagues, we did not take any of our annual leave in the United States. While some friends returned home for holidays or spent time in DC for mid-tour training, we stayed abroad for the entirety of our two-year assignment. Coming back stateside for home leave, we tried to balance our wanderlust with a desire to catch up with friends and spend some time with our families.
From San Francisco we took a red-eye to DC to celebrate D’s sister’s wedding. Because we’d be in DC for close to two months for D’s training, we did not linger, taking another flight to Chicago less than 48 hours later. The plan had been to spend the better part of a week with S’s sister and the friends we had left behind when we took up the Foreign Service lifestyle, but only D got to play catch-up. S had received an invitation for an interview so she flew back to DC the very next morning and spent most of our Chicago time back on the East Coast, returning just in time for our next flight.
From the Windy City we flew to Boston, where we also planned to spend a few days. Now it was D’s turn to go off script. While S stayed with a childhood friend for a couple of nights and spent some time with her mom, D caught a bus to New York the morning after we arrived so that he could see his favorite ska bands play a two-night reunion concert.
We reunited in Maine, where S’s parents live. Her dad had hoped to take us on a couple of strenuous hikes, but by the time we got to Bangor we had stretched ourselves so thin that we could not match his enthusiasm. On top of that, D came down with a nasty cold after New York, which knocked him out completely. We did go on what should have been a brief hike up Beech Mountain one evening before dinner. On the way back down we made a wrong turn in the woods and found ourselves at a parking lot on the other side of the mountain from the one where we had left our car.
We ended home leave where we had started it — in Connecticut with D’s parents — which also allowed us to spend a couple of days catching up with friends and family in New York. We managed to visit seven states plus the District of Columbia in six weeks. Our home leave was done, but we were not. D tacked on a handful of days of annual leave, which enabled us to have one last adventure before returning into the fold of the Foreign Service bureaucracy.
The artwork is from Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which had a fascinating exhibition called “Destroy the Picture” — a collection of pieces from artists who survived WWII and dealt with their trauma by creating incredibly destructive artwork.