Meeting the Counterparts

Last week I was invited to an event to be attended by diplowives like me. This is the first of perhaps many more to come, and I was really nervous because I knew that I wasn’t going to fit in. I have always thought that any event that involved females is sort of a beauty pageant; where you are judged by how you carry yourself, posture, wit, and all.

And at the risk of sounding insecure, diplowife events are doubly pressuring for me because most of these women are as much as accomplished as their husbands. Highly educated, fashionably dressed, and poised. Whilst I, as I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, I am not exactly the graceful and articulate type. This goes all the way back to childhood, while most little girls played pretend tea parties, I spent my afternoons climbing trees imagining that I was a crime fighting spy on recon assignment.

I got there early, but as soon as the women started arriving and exchanging cheek to cheek kisses, I noticed that I was beginning to become a very uninteresting wall flower. I was never trained nor do I have the natural talent in the art of mingling so I stood there, with a plastered smile that almost hurt my facial muscles.

There were moments when I would initiate small talks with people that looked my way but I could immediately tell that they we were not exactly connecting. One of the frustrating things about it is that most of them were already at the prime of their age, so except for what country we are from, visiting the fish market here in Tripoli, and the weather we had nothing to continue on. When those main topics have been covered, immediately dead air follows. Okay, so you might say that I lack the skills to start the ball rolling, but what do I ask them? “You know I’m looking forward to watching 500 Days of Summer, how about you?”

In fact I usually get the, Oh-you-look-so-young; comment which I can now predict is followed by “how old are you anyway?” When I tell them I’m 25, they would gasp and say that I am the same age as their son or daughter, and most of them for some weird reason would just politely move on.

That was the time when I would wonder what I was doing there in the first place, I wasn’t required to go on anyway, but still I did. Perhaps it was the lack of having anything better to do, or that I told myself (as I was considering whether to go or not) that this would be a good chance for me to learn to be a better wife for JG especially for his career.

Especially when I met the british representative who was also one of the organizers of the event, she was everything a Diplowife is to me. I’m not very good at describing, but she reminded me of a wise college professor, impeccably dressed in a simple yet serious ensemble, and spoke to everybody with a certain warmth and of course grace. I would have to make a complete 180 before I can become like her, which immediately reminded me of the irony of how I ended up as a diplomat’s wife.

But there is still some good thing that came with attending such events. I found myself sharing a table with two very interesting women. The first is a young Chinese lady who immediately explained that she was an American citizen, and knew nothing about her Asian descent. We hit off simply because we both admitted that we were not much into the mingling and socializing, plus that we were both new in Libya, and how we often find ourselves bored out of our minds. It was nice to meet someone who almost my age. And I liked how she wasn’t trying so hard to fit in as I was, and thought she’d be a cool friend judging from her pierced tongue and confident attitude; I certainly wasn’t expecting to meet someone like her at a place like that.

Also at the table was my Indonesian counterpart, she also looked the same as everybody else there, properly dressed in a suit, and we also we went through how-young-I-was routine but unlike the others she didn’t leave me behind. We were separated when it was time for the tour of the hotel, but I got the chance to meet her again later that week in a dinner JG and I attended. There, I was able to speak with her more intimately and I was surprised with her very down to earth personality. We found ourselves agreeing about some things, like how as much as we love our countries we both don’t miss the heavy traffic and how congested everything is. I found her easy to talk to because she wasn’t looking at me like a naïve young girl with bad posture; instead she treated me like a friend whom she gave constructive advises to. One of the things she told me is to how be smart about handling our money. How I shouldn’t get carried away with buying things I only think I need, but as she assured me, I would realize I don’t in hindsight. This is good advice coming from someone who really has been there, and almost has the same economic concerns as I do, as we both come from not so well off Asian countries.

Meeting these two women is I think one of the perks of being a Diplowife. It is only natural to make friends in your neighborhood or at work; but to be able to meet someone who comes from thousands of miles away, from a completely different surrounding and culture is an opportunity not many can get a chance to do. I look forward to learning about them and from them.

More of meeting the other Diplowives on future posts. Events like this is after all is just the beginning of many more to come.

 I wasn’t able to take pictures of the event but I finally got the chance to get a picture of Tripoli.

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