We had a farewell bbq for friends last night who are off on posting - taking up her first head of mission position as Australia's high commissioner to another country. And I have to admit, I am more than a little bit jealous!! To have an adventure, going somewhere you've never been before, to do something you've never done before; and to be scared and excited and proud ... it's a feeling that I have not felt for ages.
It was like that we all finished secondary school and left our small town to go to university. And then again at the end of university as most people left to travel or work or study overseas. (New Zealanders leave New Zealand in their 20s in mass hordes. Mostly they come back again.) It's an unmixed excitement - not that we didn't worry about the hurdles, or obsess on the logistics, because we did - but there was a sense of taking on the unknown and of endless possibilities! Anything might happen.
It's not the same excitement that you get when you buy a house, or get married, or pregnant. Sure, there is pleasure, and congratulations, and friendship, but it's not unmixed. Those milestones add weight to your life, as well as possibilities. First postings are exciting, but not so much subsequently, as your friends take themselves away for years! Take away tiny babies and bring back walking talking kids, or (gasp) teenagers.
But there is something about wearing that ambassador label, for some reason, that sparks it up again. The first time we waved one off was in 2005 and it took me a while to identify why it felt like being in my early 20s again ... and why I felt so envious when I know full well that a career in foreign affairs would see me hurl myself off the R. G. Casey Building within about a week. I was hankering after the possibilities.
I'm sure having had the most boring and depressing 2011 in the history of the world isn't helping either ... I was interested to read Posie's post on re-uniting and reconnecting at this time of year. Public service postings don't have quite the regularity of Army, but this is still a popular time of year to move to minimise disruption to schooling - and we will be reconnecting with friends moving back this week. Which will be lovely, and remind me why I like living here, and remind me that friends are friends and years apart seem like days when we're back together.