The summers I spent at camp were spent sleeping in tents in the woods, not, as seems to be the norm today, in cabins. The younger kids were grouped together, but as we got older we became more and more isolated until, as CIT’s (counselors in training), we found our tents a good distance from the main lodge and all the other campers.
We would often have campfires in our isolated little area and sit around until the fire died down and the embers glowed, but barely cast any light. We would lie in the dark and talk and watch the stars above us. Inevitably though (we were teenage girls after all) there were nights when some topic or other jump started our desire to be fully awake again and we would bank the fire and do our best to rekindle it so we could get back in its warmth and light.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that rekindling lately. The isolation and stir-craziness I sometimes feel being in our apartment pretty much all the time (living and working) has prompted me to get out when I can to do lunch with old friends who, at some point or another, have found their way to D.C.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to lunch with two of those friends and we had such a lovely time that one of them promptly invited us both (and our “entourages” (B & C for me)) to dinner at her house with her family. As we drove home that night it felt like that rekindling of the warmth and light from a fire and I wondered how I had managed to let these people get away from me and fade into soft glows over the years. I am feeling a tremendous sense of loss for something that I haven’t had for about 10 years (the number of years since these people left Charlotte). These are fabulous, interesting people who I can talk easily with, who I share some history with, who are, despite our lack of contact for many years, dear to me. And now, just as I am rekindling them and our friendship I am realizing that I’m going to leave. Suddenly, despite our desire to get on our way, 9 months doesn’t seem like long enough to be in this city. It doesn’t seem like long enough to bank these fires and get them roaring again.
Add to this the (almost) equally strong desire to build up the new friendships we have made through B’s A-100 class and our calendars don’t seem nearly large or open enough. Now that B is in language training (in a class of 3 people instead of a class of 84) there are not as many opportunities to hang out with all these new fascinating people who are also contemplating their new lives in the FS – and some of whom are only weeks, not months, away from moving to their first posts (one person in B’s class has already left!) So we find ourselves juggling the rekindling of past friendships with the building of new friendships – and, while I recognize that it’s a good problem to have, it is, nevertheless, a problem. Perhaps I should go back to my teenage days of believing that a good conversation with my friends lying under the stars was worth the sacrifice of a good night’s rest, and hope that once we get to Kinshasa we’ll have plenty of time to catch up on our sleep.