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putting the man in Manila

Twelve weeks to the day after we said our goodbyes in Washington, D touched down in Manila, completing our longest separation to date.

In the grand scheme of the Foreign Service, the three months we spent living on opposite sides of the world is not long. Plenty of our colleagues have completed yearlong unaccompanied tours in dangerous posts while their families waited out the separation in a safer location. That our time apart is far from record-setting did not diminish its hardship – either for S, who was single-parenting while starting a new job in a new country or for D, whose heart broke a little every time Junebug called out “papa” in a plaintive voice on our video calls.

For Emmie, who also made the trip halfway around the world with D, the separation was even longer. D’s job offer had come at such a late stage – literally weeks before S’s departure from DC – that we had minimal time to plan our transition. D’s parents took Emmie to their house for the summer and then made a serious bid to keep her, arguing that she would have a more pleasant life in idyllic Connecticut than in the Philippines.

Of course leaving our pup behind was not something we had ever seriously considered. Emmie was a couple months old when we adopted her early on in our first tour, making her as old as our time in the Foreign Service. She has a passport and a microchip, and has now accompanied us to her fourth continent. It is hard to conceive of life in the Foreign Service without her by our side. And as happy as Junebug has been to have D back in her life, she has been equally excited to be reunited with Emmie.

Even with a three-month head start and proficiency in Tagalog, it has been difficult for S to feel settled in Manila with D half a world away and most of our belongings still in transit. Our car arrived in country just before D, and the registration was completed last week; we received part of our household effects on Friday, and the rest is being delivered tomorrow. With our family finally reconstituted, hopefully our new house will feel like a home before long.

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