Since we drove home on March 16 from Glen Allen, VA and our failed attempt to participate in Foreign Affairs Counterthreat (FACT) training, we have been sequestered in our apartment. I took the trash out once to the chute in the hallway, combined with one trip to check the mail. Another day I went to my car to take a scan of my registration card. And once I sat outside for 10 minutes under the night sky waiting for an ice cream delivery. That means I have been out of the apartment for a cumulative total of less than 25 minutes over the course of the last 18,720 minutes, or 312 hours, or 13 days.
V has dumped the trash and recycling and checked the mail a few times, and collected ~ I think ~ three Seamless/Door Dash takeaway deliveries. (Coming back into the apartment necessitates a tedious process of hand washing, using Lysol on our keys and the doorknob, changing clothes, etc., especially after we found out this week that someone in our building is infected with the coronavirus and is still in and out of common areas to walk her dog. We are also following the grocery and takeout container cleaning protocol outlined in this doctor’s YouTube video.)
Other than that, we have been enjoying the solitude, teleworking, having some laughs, fretting about our move, talking and FaceTiming with people, and trying to find the end of Netflix.
Our apartment in Arlington, VA was only meant to be “home” for the nearly eight months of training in between our diplomatic postings to Australia and Mexico. We are in transition, and have only about 15% of our worldly possessions with us. (The rest are being held at the Port of Long Beach and won’t be forwarded until our confirmed arrival in Mexico.) But it’s possible that we will have to stay here just a little bit longer than planned.
Federal social distancing guidelines were extended today through April 30, and a couple of days ago, the State Department announced the postponement of outbound permanent change of station (PCS) moves for March and April. It looks less and less likely that we will be able to safely pack out and drive to Mexico in late April, but we are in consultation with our new post and folks in Washington to come up with a flexible Plan B. Ultimately it will come down to our decision on what is best for our family, and I know we will make the right decision, even if that means we get to Mexico a few weeks later than we had hoped to. We wouldn’t be the only ones whose lives are being turned upside down right now because of the coronavirus and thankfully, we are healthy.
When you have a PCS move in the State Department, you move according to your TED, or transfer eligibility date. Generally you could arrive up to 30 days before or after your TED. My TED is May which means my arrival range is between April 1 and June 30. (Anything outside of that would require permission and an amendment to my orders.)
Of course, your actual arrival date should be considered in consultation with your new post/boss and your predecessor to see what would work best. A lot of factors besides an officer’s preference might influence their arrival date: availability of housing, official visits that post is already busy supporting, other officers’ comings and goings, availability of a social sponsor, the school year timing, departure of a predecessor, holidays, and a variety of other things. So since I’ve known of this assignment since November 2018, we have had those discussions all along for our Plan A arrival date. But given the unprecedented global pandemic, we are moving towards Plan B with the understanding that in a few weeks, that could get blown up too. We just don’t know.
V and his incredible cooking skills have been put to good use working our way through our food supplies, which we will need to get through before moving whether we are isolating or not. I am proud of him, because left to my own devices I would probably survive on Nutrisystem and quesadillas! LOL.
We also made the exciting decision that later this year, we will add a West Highland White Terrier puppy to our family! This will probably happen in August or September. It is not a decision we have made lightly; I have wanted a Westie for over 12 years but never felt it was the right time. This has been disappointing for V because I am the one who has always applied the brakes; my concerns about the responsibility vis-a-vis how much we already work, crimp in our travel lifestyle, and dread of the crippling expense and bureaucracy of moving a dog around the world have traditionally convinced me that getting a dog is more trouble than it’s worth. To say that I am cautious and set in my ways is probably a massive understatement. But I think we would give a dog a wonderful home and we are finally ready to have someone else to share this life with us every day, even if it is a lot of work and expense.
We will share another update when it is available, but right now we are waiting for a thumbs-up from the breeder on our qualifications and willingness to make a deposit. If the breeding is successful, our puppy will be conceived in April, born in June, and ready for her forever home several weeks later. I am very excited about it! Hopefully the corona-circus won’t mean our household effects are held up in diplomatic customs quarantine forever before we can set up our home.
I am guessing that over the next period of weeks, our departure timeline will become more clear. We as a society will either manage to flatten the curve enough to where having a bunch of strangers in our house touching and packing our things will be safe or it won’t be. Driving literally halfway across the country through pockets of community transmission and staying in motels and eating out followed by two weeks of quarantine at our new post will be safe enough, or it won’t be. We aren’t too worried. We will find the solution and ride this out and we will take our Juárez or Bust show on the road at the right time.