It’s transfer season in the foreign service. As some friends are packing out and shifting their gears for tours in Kabul, Brasilia, Shanghai or Tel Aviv, new arrivals are stepping off the planes to fill their spots. We were the social sponsors for a family who came in last week. After fielding many questions and doing what we could to soften their landing, Snakes met them at the airport with a chicken and rice dinner, a pineapple upside down cake and a bowl of fresh water for their dog. We spent the afternoon with them on Saturday, getting groceries and playing tour guides. They have a daughter who is very close in age to the bushbaby. It was so much fun to observe them together with their squealy call and response banter. With so many similarities, they could almost be twins.
On Sunday we hosted a little play date brunch. There were 5 kids and 11 adults. It delights me to see Colette interacting with kids her age; reverently watching the older ones chattering, yelping and skittering around and getting up close and personal with her newest friend. Monday, we attended a weekly play group for our third time that is hosted by a French family who lives a few blocks away. And since the pool at the embassy is closed for maintenance, tomorrow we are planning to venture bravely into the tangle of city streets to visit some friends at their apartment’s pool. My first time driving out of our neighborhood! As pathetic as that sounds, (I have been here for over a year, after all) I am exhilarated to have such a task on my calendar that reminds me just a little of who I used to be, someone who had the option to leave the house at will. This dash of independence makes me a little woozy.
These play groups we’ve been attending are obviously as much for the parents as the babes. Making friends in the foreign service is a quick and dirty affair and you have to trust your instincts. We could learn a thing or two from the baldies. It’s not like in the “real world” where you have the luxury of years to casually let your friendship evolve over early Saturday mornings trolling yard sales, sharing favorite recipes, kicking back with a latte while your kids tear around the playground, hitting up the clearance racks at Anthro while reminding eachother that just because that ill-fitting see-through beaded maxi dress is 75% off, it does not mean it suits you…aw, come on, let’s go get cupcakes instead.
If you sense you may like someone or have any similarities at all- you’ve got to dive right in, hope for the best and enjoy it while it lasts because it’s likely that in less than a year, one of you is going to be packing your bags.