Monday, June 25, 2012

Do Not Pack: Follow the Move Part 6

“Where are all the trash cans?” my husband asked.

The frustration in his voice was duly noted.

You prep, you purge, you get organized all in an effort to have your pack-out go smoothly but right before the doorbell rings at 8 a.m. of pack-out day there is the ninth-hour push.

The suitcases that contain all the possessions that you absolutely, positively cannot under any circumstances live without for the next 2 months are hustled into the bathroom and a “Do Not Pack” (DNP) sticky is taped to the door.

You shut the door behind you for good measure.

Items that you still need to use until you fly out – like the landline phone – also have a DNP sticky on it as my daughter found out earlier this morning when she had to pull off the sticky to answer the phone. As does the coffee maker. And the cable tv DVR that has to be returned to the cable company. And the wireless router … that I need to continue to post my blogs and answer my emails. And the dehumidifiers. And the microwave that are U.S. Government property – failure to return these items upon check out from your Quarters will result in a hefty fee.

The bedrooms are labeled – “Boy A” “Boy B” “Girl” – so on the other side you can direct the “unpackers” which room the boxes will live in. Hoping I’ll remember which son was designated as A and B …

The electronic boxes that have been stashed since the last move have been pulled for their triennial use. Two computer boxes, one tv box, one lamp box, one DVD box, and one sewing machine box. One day I will be able to pitch those damn boxes, the boxes that signify my life is in transition. Seriously, who keeps these? Only people who know they’ll be moving again. And again. And again.

The live plants have been gifted to my neighbor – who will this year be one of the left-behinds. She will have an endless supply of rosemary, sage and aloe. It was the one moment in all of this mayhem where I lost it – I’m sure some medical person well versed in psych-speak would have much to say about the symbolism of plants/roots/friendships/transference/sorrow.

Getting back to the trashcans – they have all been emptied, sprayed with disinfectant (we do have a resident medical professional in the household), wiped down and are nested together – well away from anyone who may be tempted to lob any unwanted trash into them, to be packed and shipped half way around the world.

And then … and then that’s it. Your job is done until you see your possessions on the other side.

It has been a great ride living here in Japan. An amazing experience for this Gaijin family of five. 

The packers are on the tail end and my hope for one more post before the wrestle the computer from me is gone. I will try to continue writing on the other side, this next year will hold many changes for us as our twin sons prep for their college departure. 

Thank you dear readers for following our adventures and as my friend Gracious Explorer said we will say Mata-Ne (see you later) and not Sayonara (good-bye). Till next time, mata-ne.

We’re a Nice Normal Family: Follow the Move Part 5

Remember as afar as anyone else is concerned
we are a nice normal family. 
The empty bulletin board with nothing but push pins was my first “moving-moment.” My heart surged towards my throat and I had to focus on my new mantra “breathe, just breathe.” I had handed all our children zippered clear plastic cases and asked that they take down all that was important to them from their boards and put it in the folder as part of the move prep, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know that I’d be walking into their rooms with blank bulletin boards but the emptiness of these memory keepers hit me hard. It was the reality check I didn’t see coming. Gone were the high school letters for Tennis/Cross Country/Academics. Gone were the mementos of places visited, schedules for school work, motivational quotes. Gone were the photos of their lives in Japan. The three years they spent here in Japan have now become part of their personal history.

Our kids know the drill well, way to well. They are military kids and they have the moves under their belts to show for it. Our sons have attended seven different schools. They are moving the summer going into their senior year – not exactly a high point on my list of parental experiences.

When our daughter was in fifth grade her class had an assignment: they were to share where they were born and the places they had lived. She came home astonished at the number of her classmates that had only ever lived in one house (sadly she “won” for the most number of moves, at the time move count was five, she now can add two more to that list). I think it was the first time she connected the dots and maybe realized that this life we lead, of boxes and moving, of purging and organizing, of starting over every two to three years is not what most outside of the military would consider “normal.”

Perhaps that’s what makes this move more challenging than the others. The kids my children went to school with all knew what it felt like to be “the new kid.” They all have the shared experience of moving multiple times, know the demands of having one or more of their parents serving in the military and for all of them this lifestyle, this culture of the military, the label of being a military kid, for all of them – this is normal.

The bulletin boards are now wrapped, packed and sealed in a crate awaiting shipment to the U.S. It will be eight weeks before we can get them set up again, eight weeks until the “new normal” begins for us once more. 

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