I’m sitting up in bed at one in the morning, trying to type this as quietly as possible as DD sleeps next to me, his snores a little too shallow to be convincing. Two months from today DD and I will fly to Beijing to start his first diplomatic post – on September 11th, just to tempt fate. Or rather because the midweek Economy fares were cheap, and apparently the Foreign Office are prepared to pay Business Class fares and will let us spend the difference on future flights. Which, if I have anything to do with it, will be flights straight back home to London.
When we tied the knot, one year and 11 months ago, DD had just got into the Foreign Office – his first proper job by all accounts. Throughout the previous 10 years, since he graduated from university, DD had jumped from one ‘work-dodging scheme’ – as he calls it – to another. Teaching English overseas, business programmes abroad, a Master’s degree and eventually a PhD. After a decade of improving himself in ways other than paying taxes, he worked hard chasing the job of his dreams. He got it, and transitioned from student to civil servant, thereby inadvertently securing a lifetime of being funded by the taxpayer.
Every now and then, when he feels sure I’m unlikely to be provoked into a tantrum, DD gently reminds me that when we got married I was actually keen on the idea of being a diplomat’s wife. I wasn’t very happy at work, plus I too had spent my post-uni years wandering between countries, between work and academia, between full-time and part-time jobs, so I was ready to go off and live in strange lands and try my hand at new things.
But then, to my delight and DD’s slight concern, my work got interesting. It got more stimulating, more challenging, more absorbing, more enjoyable. Colleagues became close friends, and living in London became magical. Suddenly I wasn’t so keen to move to Beijing. In my usual mature, measured way I plunged into moody silences, threw out melodramatic threats and predicted grim things for our relationship.
All of this DD took more seriously than the occasion deserved. But after several incidences of sobbing over breakfast, sulking in the pub and talking late at night, we came to the sensible conclusion that we wouldn’t jeopardise DD’s career at this point by pulling out of Beijing, and that I would shut up, man up, and give it a go.
Well, at least until I change my mind, again.
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