Thursday, June 23, 2011

The FSOA (prelude)

The morning I left to take the Foreign Service Oral Exams was well-planned. I needed to leave by 9am to be on the 11:something train, where I'd get out in Baltimore and spend a few hours with a friend before heading the rest of the way to D.C., where I'd check into my hotel early enough to do a dry run to the test site, get a decent dinner, and get to bed on time.

It was HOT. 90's hot. I hadn't brought a drink or snack in the car because it was only 1.5h til the train station. We have EZPass so I breezed through the toll booths. As I pulled into the parking garage at Cira Center, I went to look for my purse to put the ticket in my wallet. And I looked some more for my purse. And under the seat. Then a swore a bunch, and pulled my phone out of my pants pocket (thank you honey for drumming into me to always have my phone on my body!) A quick call back to Terry's mom's house confirmed that yes, my purse was still there.

If Terry hadn't filled the tank the night before I would have been completely breaking down at that point, because there wasn't enough gas for a return trip before the fillup. Back onto the Schuylkill Expressway. Back into traffic so bad the A/C can't keep up because I'm not moving enough. On the phone with my friend explaining why I wasn't going to be able to see her. Talking to myself, reminding myself that the kids were healthy, we weren't in danger of losing our house or Terry's job, the marriage was strong, essentially that this was not a tragedy. AND, that night would be the first night in 4 years I spent away from all 3 members of my immediate family - heaven! The good thing about leaving all day for a 2h train ride is that if things get stalled there's still plenty of time to fulfill the urgent parts of the plan.

By the time I got to the house, I was parched and desperately needed a restroom. And a snack. Back on the road a mere 15 minutes later, I managed to make the 1:something train. Unfortunately we got held up right outside the station but still got to Baltimore by 3:00 and we were able to get ice cream and chat before I caught the D.C. train I had originally planned to take. Hotel, check. Test site reconnaissance and transit time verification, check. Dinner, check. All good.

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