We still don’t have travel orders. But if things go according to plan (go ahead and laugh when I say that, all you FS employees), we’ll be hopping on the freedom bird and winging our way out of here exactly ten weeks from today.
Ten weeks. Ten weekends. Ten weekends means 20 days to see everything we haven’t seen, buy everything we want to buy, eat everything we want to eat and toss everything we want to toss.
This last is important, because the State Department allots us a little over 7000 pounds of HHE. HHE stands for household effects, and it basically means the contents of your household, shipped by truck or slow boat. We’ll get a separate shipment of UAB, which is air freight. This will be somewhere between 500-1000 pounds, and this is everything you can’t live without to set up your household: pots and pans, sheets and towels, cookbooks, toys, spices, ipod, the entire contents of the utensil drawer… This smaller shipment usually arrives within a few weeks of arrival at post, and you’re expected to live without the rest of your stuff indefinitely. In the past, we’ve been pretty lucky and we’ve gotten our HHE relatively quickly, but you have to be prepared to live without it for months. I’ve even heard of cases where it’s been lost or stolen – gone forever off the back of a truck transiting Eastern Europe or something crazy. That’s why we pay a lot for transit insurance. Well, that and the fact that it’s pretty much guaranteed that something valuable will break along the way. We’ve lost Russian serving platters, grandfather clocks and even a crèche set that was passed down to us from Bart’s grandparents.
Anyway, back to tossing. We were scarily close to our 7000-pound limit when we moved here, and we’ve added a few choice items (like lamps, and, oh yeah, a BABY). So we need to pare down in order to ensure we’re within our limit. (Jill is apparently making the same calculations as she prepares to pack out of Chennai.)
This is the part of our wandering life that I hate. I am not an organized person, so the thought of tossing, and culling, and packing away, and reorganizing, gives me the shivers. I wander through the house throwing random things in a trash bag until it is full; then I toss it and move along with my life, feeling virtuous, but actually not any more organized. Fortunately, my husband is better at this than me. He went through the whole garage this weekend, figuring out what stays and what goes. At one point he said “We haven’t used this in six years – isn’t it time to toss it?” And I thought to myself “But if I’d known it was there, maybe I would’ve used it?”
No, this is not easy. But I remind myself: do I really want to be faced with an endless sea of boxes in Jordan, all of which I have to unpack and arrange in a new house? No. Definitely: no. And so we toss ruthlessly: Ainsley’s winter sweaters, my old work clothes, kids’ books, old CDs.
Today I dropped a gigantic pile o’ stuff at Roundabout, a charity that collects things like clothing and redistributes to the needy. So I’m feeling virtuous. But then I remember: only ten weeks until we move. Which means about eight until we pack out. Which means my work is far from done here.