Those Women.

Right back at the beginning, back at the first offer letter, the first discussion about travel, the first work permit application, and the very first inkling of an expatriate life – there was a contract.

“What does International Mobile mean exactly?” I’d spent years working in recruitment but the term they’d used sounded far more James Bond than Human Resources.

“It means we move wherever they want, whenever they want.” G was trying to mask his excitement, this was exactly what he had dreamed of. He’d told me on our very first date that he wanted to work for The Big Blue, that he wanted to travel.

The James Bond part of the contract was the sexy bit. The armed guards, the lack of communications, the old Russian planes that landed in remote locations.  His eyes twinkled when he spoke about the training which involved jumping out of the helicopter into the sea. He raced off for last minute vaccinations trying to pretend that it was an inconvenience, it wasn’t, it was all part of the intoxication.

“Do we really want to go anywhere though?” I was keen to live in Asia, but I wasn’t so sure about Angola, Yemen or Algeria (neither was my mother).

“They won’t move a family to Algeria. If I had to go there, I’d have to go by myself. Don’t worry, that’s not going to happen.”

We’ve had our moments of worry, just small ones. I lost G for a couple of days in Nigeria, thankfully he popped up again. I’ve received the “It’s all okay” phone calls after the bomb scares in the office. I’ve watched the news of a plane crash and rushed to my computer to double check his itinerary. I’ve had the thought, the quiet lingering thought, the one that stays in the back of the mind until the text or phone call arrives. Landed. Home. On my way.

G glanced up from his laptop late last week and asked if I’d read about the hostage crises in Algeria, when he listed the companies involved I knew he’d be wondering if anyone he knew was there. I wasn’t, I was thinking about their partners.

The women who were watching every news story, waiting for a phone call. The women who’d already been counting the days. The women who woke up in an empty bed, the women who put the bins out, washed the car and went to parent/teacher night on their own.  The women who’d sat down with their partners and made a decision to take the assignment. The same women who asked if it was dangerous and were reassured that there were guards and safety precautions in place.

My thoughts are with those women.

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