Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart. ~Elisabeth Foley

As usual, it's been too much time since my last entry (thanks to CC for the reminder/kick in the rear). Sam went to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on June 11th to teach a summer course at the university. I stayed in Abu Dhabi with the children until they finished school and we've since flown to Addis as well. We will be here until July 11th, at which point we'll fly back to Abu Dhabi and I'll spend the next 10 days or so trying to strengthen my resolve for the trans-Atlantic flight with four children.
Coming to Addis was good practice for July and our trip to the States, we managed to carry only four suitcases (one of which was donations), and Jack's playpen. Also, one was a carry-on size--so, who really counts that anyway? Pretty good for five people. And, we only left one thing at the airport. So, it's getting a little easier. People who've traveled with children, please tell me I'm not the only one who's left things behind at the airport. Please?!
As I reflect on the trip back to the States, my mind can't help but turn toward relationships. The real reason we're going back to the States. Although, I jokingly claim it's for Target, Michaels, and Chick-fil-A. The real reason we're going back is for people.
The friends you make that you "click" with and feel like you've know your entire life. Those you HAVE known your entire life and still manage to like, despite knowing all there is to know. And most importantly (and sometimes overlapping), those you know you can call at 3 AM to bail you out of jail, help hide the body, etc.
The one common thing that binds these relationships is that all require nurturing in order to flourish. As a garden, friendships grow and strengthen based on the amount of time you put into it. We've all had friends who swear to KIT. And over time and circumstance, the communication fades, and the friendship follows. Occasionally, there is the rare friendship where you don't often speak, but are able to pick up where you left off (MDB, yes you).
Moving has reminded me of the value of friendships. All of them in their different intricacies have added to my life. For those of you I talk to on a daily to weekly basis, those I talk to on a monthly or longer basis, and those I rarely talk to. . .know you are a valued part of my life. There is a saying that says you can tell a person's character by the company they keep. If that is true my character is: loyal, strong (sometimes stubborn), giving, creative, oftentimes fabulous (SB, you know that's you!), and the list goes on. . .
And as we continue to get settled in Abu Dhabi, I am blessed to find comfort in new friendships. Those, especially, who have been a sounding board with the kids and with adjusting to a new culture. One, in particular, has been a constant source of support and encouragement (thanks, LS). Others have been a much needed oasis of escape for girl chat and drinks out (EB and JE, that's you).
So, to all friends, new and old, near and far, thank you for helping make me who I am. Hope to see you all soon!

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~Albert Schweitzer

Monday, June 13, 2011

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies. ~Aristotle

First, my apologies to all who follow the blog in that it's been way too long.
Life is further settling into a more reliable pace. We have schooling straigthened out for next year. Lucas and Helen will attend School A, while Thomas will attend School B (where he is currently). By the beginning of the school year, we will have a car, so we can say "Goodbye" to the 5:40 AM wake-up call. Thomas seemed pleased to stay at his current school. From the covert sightings on campus from reliable sources: he fits in, has become "one of the most popular kids in his class," was spotted with a blonde at the playground and is, apparently, quite the player.
Currently, Sam is in Ethiopia. He's teaching finance at Addis Ababa University. This was another benefit for the move to Abu Dhabi. Being so close to Ethiopia, we knew we'd have a frequent opportunity to travel to Helen's homeland. Sam will be there two weeks before we get there. Actually, 11 more days, but who's counting?
The kids are very excited to visit Ethiopia. Of the three who are old enough to comprehend, Thomas is probably the most excited. The first thing he wants to buy is a traditional Ethiopian outift, so he can wear it and "look just like everyone else there." No one's going to notice the Norwegian looking blonde child with ice blue eyes. Got Farenji?
And, I have to say, I love that about the children. It's not to say they don't notice color or they're "colorblind." To raise your children in a world that's colorblind negates the unique qualities between us. However, I like that despite the fact they understand race, it just doesn't matter. Helen is "African" or "from Ethiopia" or as she calls herself, "Chocolate." It's really not an identifying factor. Especially in Abu Dhabi. Everyone is from somewhere else. Asking, "Where are you from?" does not hold the implication it often did in the States. Here, it simply means, "Where are you from?" Everyone from America is American, regardless of color. "You from America? I love America too much! Obama is too much good!"
Which might be why I'm looking forward to going back to the US. There's always something exciting about going "home." At some point, Helen will have this feeling about two places. Ethiopia is not her home country in her mind now (as she remembers very little, other than our home), but we are trying to raise her in a way that allowsher to have pride in the fact that she is of two cultures.
And, in the end, that's really all you can do. Raise them to be good people, be kind to others. . .no matter where in the world they're from.

To end, Dennis Leary said it best: Racism isn't born, folks, it's taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.