Friday, June 13, 2008

Backlist: Identity

Backlist has made the difficult decision to leave the service. I struggle with some of the same issues she does and I wish her luck. You can read her entire post here.

... This was the most difficult decision I’ve ever made. After ten years, this job has become who I am. It’s not as if I’ve been bringing work home. It’s that work is home. We live diplomacy. Our friends are diplomats. Everything we do is what country we’re assigned to. When September 11 happened, I was in Africa. Africans provided solace and other American diplomats provided the tiny circle of grieving. That night I watched French television broadcast the same shot of planes and buildings over and over with a woman who I am friends with, was friends with, will always be friends with in part because she sat with me and shared my shock. She has since left the Service also, and I’m sure is happier for it. When I scrubbed Anthrax from the walls of our little mailroom in a bright green bio-hazard suit, identified a friend three days in the river in a hot African morgue, hid under my desk as molotov cocktails shattered on the walls and flames licked American flags, I took those feelings home, assuming I’d be better for it.

But here’s the bottom line: I’m not better for it, I’m worse. I left for DC ten and a half years ago energetic, normal-sized, happy. All the Foreign Service has given me is weight, pain, bruises in my mind, heart and soul. I’ve spent half that time trying to get myself back; to find the woman I recognize in the mirror and convince her to stay. When I stopped getting glimpses of her, I knew it was time to go.

Sometime this summer, I’ll have my last day. I don’t know when it will be yet. I don’t have a job, although I’m working very, very hard to get one. I’m sure that wherever that job is, I’ll find a missing person: me.

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