Thursday, October 09, 2008

Eventually, Eventually...

Out with some friends, and Sara and I are talking about running. "Katie, we should do a race together. I was thinking maybe the GW Classic... Oh, wait," a tilt of the head. "You won't be here."

I very nearly dropped my drink. "Sorry? Could you say that again?"

"What? The GW Classic?"

"No, the other part. Where will I be?"

"You won't be here. You'll be in Jordan."

I'll be in Jordan. What an amazing thought.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Time Without Now

It struck me today that we will have a new president before I complete my Arabic training. Of course, I have a calendar, I listen to the news, I put in for my absentee ballot -- it's not as if I'm unaware of the outside world or that these two things were going to overlap. But it's strange that it does feel very much apart from my current day-to-day reality. Outside we're apparently experiencing political and financial mayhem, but inside my classroom I haven't even changed my seat in over 30 weeks. Time has ceased to have a 'Now'-- there's only 'Back Then' and 'After This', and no real sense of when we broke from the one or when we'll be reaching the other. We've achieved a sort of equilibratory stasis. Though I'm certain the minute that we realize we have 13 days instead of 13 weeks left, reality will come crashing back down in a most intrusive way. It dawned on us a month or so ago that we were losing track of the time, so we've begun keeping a tally of the weeks on the classroom wall.

I'm often asked for my impression of Arabic training, so here it is: it's long. Not bad, but definitely long.

The upshot of all of this 'longness' is that I am longing to be at work. In a bid to be even mildly productive, I spend all my time outside class furiously reading. Other people dream of homeleave spent lounging on a beach; I'm looking for a place to go and dig trenches. Maybe I could get a job at McDonald's for the month. I picture arriving at post and racing through projects one after the other... Well, it's a nice thought at the moment, anyway. A thought flecked with the knowledge that much sooner than I would like I might not be able to work. Sometimes I wonder if I've made the right choices. That kind of fear is not cold and steely: it is pungent and choking and little tolerant of the notion of stasis. Luckily I can usually put it off.

Meanwhile, after seven months I'm beginning to think that the relationship I have with my classmate is probably the closest thing I'll ever have to a marriage. We're scheduled to have our post-Arabic training together as well. No one's yet suggested that we begin wearing matching outfits, but I can sense it's coming.