Pack Out Eve (2014)

It is the night before pack out. It’s 10:30 pm. I am exhausted. I have spent all this weekend preparing my things for the arrival of the movers Monday morning. Tomorrow. TOMORROW!

I took several boxes across the border to Goodwill this afternoon. By my calculations, I donated $472 worth of goodies. In addition, I took two other donations, to Goodwill and an El Paso children’s home, in the past month. I am now close to $1000 in donations. I also took several bags to recycling and several more to the trash. I have made a large pile of items near the front door that will all go into the air freight or unaccompanied baggage (UAB) that we will receive in late August to have at our temporary housing in Virginia during my training. I am given 250 pounds of UAB for myself and an additional 200 pounds for my daughter. Four hundred and fifty pounds total. I have no idea how much my pile by the door may weigh.

Then all the items I have piled in the guest room are for the ocean freight or household effects (HHE) that we will not see again until a month or two after our arrival in Shanghai, some 8 or so months later. All Foreign Service families receive a maximum of 7200 lbs of HHE regardless of family size. I am not worried about that weight. I arrived in Juarez with 4800 lbs and my goal has been to depart with at least 1000 less. I’m pretty sure I have done it, though I will not find out for sure until the truck pulls away tomorrow.

Unfortunately I have a bunch of little odds and ends still tucked away in drawers. I expect those drawers will be opened and dumped into a box and then wrapped up. Despite my best efforts, and I have really done a good job here (much better than my pack out of Jakarta, Indonesia three years ago), I am going to open up some boxes in Shanghai and wonder, “what was I thinking?” It is inevitable. It is a time honored Foreign Service (or any situation where one constantly moves) tradition to pack up random things. When I arrived in Jakarta I found the movers had packed up my bedroom trash can complete with all the trash contents still inside!

I am worried though how this pack out will affect my daughter. Tonight, I carefully selected 10 of her 35 DVDs (we do not have “television” here, i.e. no cable or antenna or anything of the like, just DVDs) to remain with us the last two weeks and then be packed up in the car. The other 25 DVDs will be in the UAB. I tried to pick the 10 DVDs she has been requesting the most in recent weeks. But what if she asks for the “snow” episode of the Backyardigans and it is not among the favorites?

My normally pretty easy going two year old has been a little more prone to temper tantrums in the last few weeks. I cannot be sure if this is the result of the packing process or because she is nearly 29 months old. All I know is that I am taking a huge heaping dollop of mommy guilt right now on top of already being in an irritable pack out eve mood.

Maybe it is not my two year old that has been more temperamental? Maybe it is me? Though moves are a regular part of the Foreign Service and have been a regular part of my life for some time (approximately ten moves in the past ten years, probably at least twenty in the past twenty), it does not mean that I enjoy the actual process of moving. With the Foreign Service at least a bunch of movers show up to help me do this. Though to be honest in my pre-Foreign Service and Defense Department moves, I never really had a house full of things to move. It was whatever I could carry on the plane or ship ahead of me. That was it.

I’m not even sure if I am making sense anymore. I am just so tired. Unfortunately I will have to wake up early tomorrow before the movers arrive to try to do some more last minute preparations. I still have not decided on my closet full of clothes. What stays with me for two more weeks and then goes in the car? What goes in UAB and in HHE? No idea right now.

I guess the bright side is that by tomorrow evening, probably by 5 pm, this will be done. The decisions, for good or bad, will be done.


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