In case you weren’t aware, Sean and I did this really amazing thing from 2015-2017 where we lived and worked in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Cool, right?! It was an overwhelming experience to say the least.
Not surprisingly, since returning home, not a week goes by where we aren’t bombarded with “Do you miss Tajikistan?” “Do you miss living over there?” “You miss it!” “I think you miss it!” “You know you want to go back!”
Sigh. Please stop telling me how I’m supposed to feel, guys. It’s hard enough to work it out for myself.
So, back to the question at hand, do I miss Tajikistan?
Well. It’s a complicated answer.
I miss seeing the mountains when the smog would clear, especially on those perfect spring days when it was warm but not yet hot. I miss my friends. I miss our house and our completely fenced in yard so the dogs wouldn’t bark all day long. I miss Nurek. I miss hiking. I miss attending Marine Ball. I miss traveling around the country, region, and world.
I don’t miss the 8:00 am radio checks waking me up on the one day I could sleep in. I don’t miss getting sick all the time. I don’t miss washing produce for hours on a Saturday. I don’t miss being at the center of social life and being forced to work every weekend. I don’t miss the dust storms. I don’t miss not having potable water in our house save the distiller. I don’t miss feeling trapped and being beaten down to the point where I didn’t care about anything anymore.
I miss the sense of awe that we were living – actually living – in Central Asia.
I don’t miss working in the same place as my husband so by the time we got home we had nothing to say to each other.
One very specific thing our Dushanbe experience taught us is that we need to lead separate lives. Sean was constantly helping me out at CLO events and I was constantly accompanying him to diplomatic functions we honestly got sick of each other. We are each other’s emotional support system, but that didn’t work when our professional lives became so closely connected. When one or both of our work lives became overbearing, both of us were affected. We never had the calm one to fall back on. We were living in a constant state of stress. So much that it manifested in physical ways, high blood pressure for him, anxiety for me.
I think we will always look back on our experiences in Dushanbe with mixed emotions. And I think over time the good memories will overtake the difficult ones. Even in the seven months since we left my response to “would you ever visit?” went from “absolutely not!” to “maybe, if we were in the area, it would be fun to see it again.”
Clearly I’m still processing the experience. So for now the most simplified response to the question of do I miss Tajikistan? is: sort of. Let’s just leave it at that.