I spent a good part of the morning settling my affairs and saying goodbyes. The goodbyes were hard – some big sobs and some small tears in the corner of an eye, as if I didn’t notice. I cried too – the parting is hard, bittersweet as I am half happy and half sad, words I would repeat over and over again, mostly in Dari.

Fridoon had invited me to lunch in nearby King’s (Shah) restaurant that came recommended by Axel. I have helped him write and rewrite his resume but so far no success. He has no great hopes of getting a job because, as he says, he has no connections. Unfortunately that is very true and so I try to be his connection. So the lunch was no reward for success but rather a token of friendship.

Then it was off to USAID for a very long meeting about many things that don’t require my attention anymore even if they do concern me.

Afterwards I was dropped off at my now totally empty and re-arranged house and said goodbye to my boss and our deputy director – handshakes only of course. Our security chief came by to say goodbye and we sat in the lovely late afternoon sun while he talked up a storm about politics, Islam, friendships, good and bad people. It was all in Dari and I later asked if this had been my final oral exam in Dari and whether I had passed (I had). I surprised myself, understanding maybe 80% but at the end of that conversation my brain was fried.

My co-technical director, very dear friend and confidant, took me out for a final dinner where we talked through the several years we had known each other, the things we had learned, loved and hated and what would happen next. AB joined us later for ice-cream and then I was dropped off at my house for the very last time.

The task now is to close the suitcases and try to shoehorn in the last of the gifts. The pile of stuff that will stay here is getting bigger and bigger, my resolve about what only a day or so ago had to get back with me to the US is weakening and I realize I don’t need much there, more here. So now I have to come back – no doubt about that – just not knowing when. It helped me cope with the most teary goodbyes and I hope that this comforts the shedders of those tears as well. Partir c’est mourir un peu.

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September 2011
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