It is commonly said that all good things come to an end, as indeed all things must. Some come to an end a bit more painfully than others. After spending nearly four weeks with us, S’s mom began her long return journey to Maine yesterday, but it wasn’t her departure in and of itself that left our daughter inconsolable. Rather, Junebug spent a good part of the day in tears because S’s mom took our beloved dog with her.
Posts tagged ‘pets’
Sunday was National Audobon Day, which marks the birth of America’s most famous ornithologist. John Audobon was not the first naturalist to illustrate America’s birds – that honor goes to Alexander Wilson – but his work was much more thorough and visually arresting, and his legacy considerably greater. Appropriately enough, we spent both Saturday and Sunday at Arizona state parks that are renowned for their birdlife.
After three long weeks of slow-moving days that seemed to bleed into each other, our last few days in the Philippines were hectic as we scrambled to tie up loose ends and set our affairs in order. Finding someone to keep an eye on the apartment and serve as our proxy was easy, but we also had a few errands to run, which proved no easy feat in light of Manila’s enhanced community quarantine.
From decision to departure we had a little less than five days – a little more than 100 hours to set our affairs in order, find a place to stay in the States, complete the bureaucratic steps to enable our evacuation, and pack. Although we reduced our work hours, we also continued performing our jobs, which for S included assisting other Americans stranded in the Philippines by the pandemic.
As Americans under coronavirus lockdown in the Philippines, we feel like we are living two alternate realities. On the one hand, we are mortified by the news back home. With testing delays and half-measures contributing to the United States now leading the world in the number of confirmed cases, the American response seems critically inadequate. On the other hand, we are now two weeks into an increasingly restrictive “enhanced” community quarantine in Manila and feeling the acute pressure of draconian measures imposed on us. If the response in the United States has not gone far enough, the reality we are living suggests that it is also quite easy to go overboard in the other direction.
On the upside, we have made it through 10 days and are now one-third of the way through Manila’s 30-day lockdown with our sanity still mostly intact. On the downside, things are likely to get a lot worse before they get any better, and it seems rather unlikely that the quarantine will be lifted – or even relaxed – after only 30 days. We are continuing to live day-to-day, not so much because we want to but because it seems that every day brings with it a new set of restrictive measures that make us revisit our decision to remain in the Philippines.
The last couple of months, Junebug has hit the sweet spot of toddler babble, thanks in no small part to her weekly speech therapy lessons. After being almost completely non-verbal at age two, Junebug has become a regular chatterbox just six months later. Although we understand her quite well, her speech remains muddled, as she mixes up letters, speaks in incomplete sentences, and trips over herself in her exuberance to articulate her thoughts. The result is an immensely adorable toddler diction that makes us want to record every one of her monologues for posterity.
D’s mom, comparing life in America to the one she knew in the Soviet Union, once succinctly summarized the difference by pointing to a sign at a public beach, which enumerated prohibited behavior: “In America they tell you what you cannot do, and anything that is not explicitly forbidden is allowed. In the Soviet Union, it was the opposite: if it was not expressly permitted, then you couldn’t do it.”
Self-help books, mindfulness blogs, and mental health articles abound with exhortations to live in the moment and advice on how to make the most of each day. Aside from the clichés of squeezing every drop of joy out of each unique experience we accumulate when serving overseas, being able to focus on the present while relentlessly planning for the future is a requisite skill for the Foreign Service. Considering how often we relocate, the temptation is always there to cast our sights toward the next assignment, the next move, or the next country – to envision the possibilities and continuously stress about the unknown. Without a firm grip on the present one can easily descend into madness.