R&R, otherwise known as the time when I ate everything in America

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So within the Foreign Service there are perks for signing up for a post where there is a certain level of hardship.  For instance, those in warzones make a ton of money, people who live in remote areas with limited groceries get a “consumables shipment” and certain posts get a number of R&R’s – paid flights to go home (or to a designated point in the world) to get out of dodge for a while to rest and recuperate.  While I won’t pretend Sarajevo is anywhere near as dangerous or inconvenient as it could have been, we do get two R&Rs that are to be taking during my time here.  This spring I took my first, and decided it was time to go home to see the family and get back to America for a while.  (Cuz I seriously love America.)

In April I hopped a long flight back to the states and flew into St. Louis to stay with baby bro.  The next day we went and got some brunch at Pastaria (complete with bloody mary’s and a pitcher of screwdrivers) and the best breakfast pizza I’ve had maybe ever.  Happily my friends and family indulged my desire to attend a Cards game, so we got a group of us together to see the Cards beat the hell out of the Reds.

My gorgeous friends!

My gorgeous friends!

My amazing family!

My amazing family!

Spent the next 10 days bopping around St. Louis, Philo, Chicago, and Fayetteville, NC (I know that last one doesn’t make sense to you yet.)  I enjoyed getting back to a bit of normalcy in my life, including sleeping in my childhood home, catching up with friends I’ve barely seen in years, and of course eating at ALL of my favorite restaurants.  Monicals, El Toro, The Philo Tavern, Pappys BBQ, etc.  I may have over-indulged a bit.  And by a bit I mean a ton.  But honestly, when I get to eat those things so rarely I can’t say I regret anything.  I hear this is completely normal for R&R and home leave.

I fit in a quick trip to Chicago to see my college friends who have big exciting lives of their own going on.  Started with lunch and a brewery tour at Lagunitas and ended with a big group dinner at…a place who’s name is escaping me.  Red Fire Grill?  Something like that?  Anyway I bored my friends to tears with stories about the Bosnian political environment and did my best talking them into all becoming diplomats.  It was SO great catching up with these wonderful women!

Starting a tour with 8 samples is a poor life choice

Starting a tour with 8 samples is a poor life choice

A civics lesson with dinner

A civics lesson with dinner

My awesome family offered to throw a party at the house to invite the family over so I could catch up with my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.  Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate, and while we planned to grill out, it poured rain all day and night.  Lucky for me, Paul Cain is a boss and could not be deterred:

My Wonderful Papa

My Wonderful Papa

I loved catching up with my loved ones, chatting with them about this crazy life I’m leading, and hearing all about the things going on back home, like babies, weddings, new houses, new jobs, retirements, upcoming trips, etc.  But unfortunately with all of these happy stories, I must throw in a sad one.  On this trip home I had to say goodbye to my wonderful Aunt Tammy who had been fighting cancer for years.  She was truly an amazingly strong, kind, thoughtful, WONDERFUL woman who touched everyone she met.  While of course I was terribly sad to say goodbye, I consider myself very lucky to have been a part of her life, and even luckier still that I was home to say goodbye and get one of her famous Aunt Tammy hugs and tell her how much I loved her.  Her memory lives on today in the lives of her loving husband, devoted children and adorable grandkids. We love you, Aunt Tammy! ❤

I bid my family a very fond farewell and spent a few days in North Carolina catching up with some friends of mine that had left Sarajevo + a great friend from college who had relocated to the East Coast.  We ate, drank, baked a lot of things, caught up and I realized how lucky I am to have such great people in my life, even if it means missing them when I leave.

With a heavy heart I left for Sarajevo again, glad to have seen my friends and family but also newly depressed.  When you’re gone and you STAY gone, you get used to your friends and family not being there.  You get used to only speaking via Facetime, texts and emails.  You don’t see all the little moments happening at home and therefore you forget what you’re missing.  But being home….man every little happy moment was like a tiny little twinge of sadness.  I saw how much my nieces are changing, how my parents are getting closer to retirement and will soon be off traveling the country/world, my siblings are building lives with their loved ones…it’s hard to be reminded of all that I’m missing in their day to day lives.  But what a lovely thing, to have someone to miss.  I loved my time and home and can’t wait to go back for Christmas!

home13

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