The most exciting day of A-100 is flag day, when you find out where and how you’ll be spending the next two years of your life. The second most exciting day is the day you receive your bid list, when you find out what your options are. The weeks in between are spent arranging and rearranging bids, considering and reconsidering preferences, and trying to figure out where some of the lesser-known cities are located.
When Alex went through this three years ago, we thought long and hard about our list and what our preferences were. We wanted somewhere Francophone and in Africa. We also wanted a hardship post, but not one that was particularly dangerous (we prefer our hardship in the form of wandering goats, not wandering rebels). Alex wanted a public diplomacy job. All of those preferences helped inform our final list. A few posts met all of them. A lot of posts met some of them. And a small handful met none at all.
This time, though, things are different. When someone asks me what my preferences are, I really only have one – we want to be posted together as a tandem couple. Simple right? Sure, we’d love to be a little closer to home and it might be nice for Flynn to continue his French, but the only thing we really, truly care about is being together as a family.
It sounds pretty straightforward. Just one little preference. But with the simplicity comes a troubling dichotomy. Unlike last time, when there was a whole spectrum of possibilities, from great to disappointing, and everything in between, now there are only two possibilities – together or apart.
Maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. From what we understand of the tandem options (of which there are a relatively small number), a couple do look better than the others. And no matter which of them we get (if we do, in fact, get something that will allow us to be at the same post – and that is no guarantee), we’ll remind ourselves that just a few weeks ago we wondered if we’d be together at all.
Even with our one preference, we still managed to arrange and rearrange our choices over and over again, trying to find the way to best express what we’re hoping for. But with my bid list submitted, we’ve finally let it come to a rest.
Now there’s nothing to do but wait.