Thursday, February 16, 2017

'twas the season

A busy couple of months mean I am behind on that sacred rite of the blogosphere-- a recap of the last year and some goal-setting for the next. But first, December deserves a post of its own. Because oh man, December, you were one of the crazier months in recent memory and a fitting end to a full year. One that was somehow both packed with work but also full of travel and time off. One that will forevermore be my benchmark of how much can happen in a month and a reminder that busyness has the magical property of making time stretch.

On December 1, I submitted my application to the Harvard Kennedy School, then took off for a lovely solo weekend in North Cyprus - one of the few places you can reach by a direct flight from Gaziantep. The next weekend, I spent 24 hours in Istanbul for a policy forum for work and a few days after that, flew back from Gaziantep to DC. Austin came to down for a few days, then I celebrated Christmas in southern California with my family, then flew back to DC for a packed workweek between Christmas and New Years, then flew up to Boston so Austin and I could drive out to the Cape to ring in the New Year with the Countdown Cod.  In total, I took 12 flights, one of which involved extended questioning by US Customs and Border Control and three of which landed me with an SSSS (Secondary Security Screening Selection) on my boarding pass and patdowns by TSA, thanks to extra scrutiny on travelers to southern Turkey.

This marks the third year that I've spent a good chunk of December abroad - Tunisia in 2014, Mauritania in 2015, Turkey in 2016. (And as crazy as that feels, it's even crazier that if I stick with the grad school plan, that won't be my life next year.) And all throughout the season, I felt the familiar tension between home & away, the desire to lean in to adventure at the same time that I crave a cozy nest. I was a little bummed that I didn't have a chance to keep up my own little Christmas traditions this year, though equally glad that I didn't wait until life was more stable to start those. In that spirit, I was totally delighted to buy a grocery store poinsettia to enjoy for all of five days in my apartment in Turkey.

One of these days, I will have a cozy December at home, full of Christmas shopping, cookie baking, and ugly sweater parties. But I believe that life is long and, as long as we don't get stuck, there is plenty of time for everything we want to do. The flipside of missing the lead-up to "Christmastime in the city" this year is that I got to spend a weekend in the rolling hills of North Cyprus and to do some truly cool stuff professionally. I am grateful for all of it.

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