t minus 365

I can't believe today is December 1. Which means exactly one year from today, Joey, George, Max, Moe and I will be boarding a plane for the good old U.S. of A. on a one-way ticket. So while technically our one year anniversary here is not until December 29, that crazy, post-Christmas all-night drive from Des Moines to DC was totally worth every sleepless minute. Because had we waited for Delta to get its shit together and arrived in Nigeria even 2 days later, my one year countdown wouldn't start for another month. Ah. may. zing.

But now the crazy part?

I actually don't think I'd mind an extra month. I might even be able to deal with a few extra months.

Ever since I got back from Des Moines in September, things here have gotten so much better (for me, not Nigeria). I started a new job as a contractor, which I find challenging, interesting and rewarding. Instead of juggling two menial part-time jobs, I'm able to work full-time in my field. And I'm no longer at the Embassy, and I really enjoy the extra bit of space afforded to me by not working in the same building as my husband and the rest of the entire American community every. single. day. I'm horrible at small talk and now I don't have to subject myself to painful, awkward silences at least once an hour. The best part is that I was able to negotiate a telecommute agreement, so while I work most of my days in the office, I get to work a few hours each day from home. It's fantastic.

We also have made some incredible friends in the last few months. Everyone at post has been very kind and accomodating, but we just didn't meet anybody with whom we just "clicked." Almost all the young people here are single, and the ones who are married all have children, and Joey and I just fell into an uncomfortable middle ground. But we finally met two other young couples like us and we've been having a blast. We have weekly dinner parties, spent a great weekend away and are planning another trip together this spring. It's amazing what a difference good friends make; I guess I had taken for granted how important our friendships at home and in DC had been to me. I finally found two women with whom I feel like I can have open, honest, face-to-face conversations about fashion, travel, marriage, kids, money - life! It's taken a ton of pressure off our marriage now that I have other people with whom I can commiserate. And for all those things that, try as he might, Joey just doesn't understand, my girlfriends do.

We've also planned some fabulous travels. We get to spend ten days in Italy with my parents and one of my sisters this winter drinking wine and eating pasta. We're training to run a marathon around Mt. Kilimanjaro and afterward we get to go on safari in the Serengheti. As difficult as living in Nigeria has been, it has afforded us incredible opportunities to see places we never even could have dreamed of.

I don't know - I guess when I finally stopped fighting the fact that I live in Nigeria and just started living instead - when I stopped focusing on how much it sucked, it stopped sucking so much. And now that we're down to a year, I'm already a little sad that it's going to be over so soon. I guess that's one of the drawbacks of this life - as soon as you get settled and start enjoying the journey, it's almost time to look ahead to the next move, the next job, the next post. But in the meantime we're here for 365 more days, and we're going to make the most of it.

Oh, and I didn't buy the boots.  I bought leopard-print oxfords instead.  When in Rome...