On Monday morning I was out of bed at 6 am. I have trouble sleeping the night before a pack out. Once up I popped open my Diet Coke (I am not a coffee drinker – have never had coffee actually – but I do love my caffeine in the form of the ambrosia that is a nice, cold can of DC), and I put on my pedometer. I had some breakfast and then I got to work.
At 7 am the nanny arrived. I had thought I would not want her to be there just yet, I liked the quiet solitude of working in the house with my daughter sleeping, no one else there. But my nanny, besides the times she drives me absolutely nuts, is actually not only a great nanny but a helpful person. Also once the movers arrived she took my daughter out to the park and a neighbor’s house so she would not be bothered by all the packing.
I could have sworn from the pre-pack out survey that the movers were arriving at 8 or 9, but they did not show up until 10:30. All the better as I was still puttering around preparing piles and hemming and hawing over my clothes – I would need work clothes for two more weeks but I am about to head out on 9 weeks of travel / Home Leave, so I did not want too much.
When the movers showed up I felt a little disappointed and concerned. Again, the boss at the pre-pack out survey (when they look around at all your stuff to get an estimate of weight and volume) had implied it was going to be a long day, but they would surely be finished by 5…or 6 pm. And here were the packers, just 1 man and 2 women, arriving at 10:30.
But they exceeded my expectations. They got right to work and worked quietly and efficiently, taking only one short 30 minute break around 2 o’clock, when two more men arrived with the truck to start loading the boxes. Imagine my surprise, dumbfounded surprise, when all was done, the truck driving away with almost all of my worldly belongings at 3:30, a mere 5 hours after the movers had arrived. This is my fourth “pack out” (move with the government) and only the one from DC to Mexico had taken less time. That was due entirely to the vast majority of my things already packed and in storage in a warehouse in Maryland after my return from Indonesia. My pack out to Indonesia and the one return both took two days.
Of course later that night I started thinking maybe they were too fast… Maybe I will open up my boxes of things in Shanghai 8 or 9 months from now and find some of my things did not survive the moves… Well, nothing I can do about it now. I tell myself that to try to calm myself down.
So yeah, my fourth pack out is complete! I would say they do not get easier, only different. Departing from DC to Indonesia I was a single woman living in a three bedroom, one bathroom rent controlled apartment in Washington, DC. I did not own a lot of things, but I did have some furniture I put into storage. Leaving Indonesia 2.5 years later I had acquired two Jakarta street cats and was 8 weeks pregnant and a tad ill to my stomach at pack out. At my third pack out from DC to Mexico, I was leaving the one bedroom temporary housing provided during my training, but with a six month old baby. I now leave Mexico with a 2 ½ year old. I think I prepared better, but I still was not all ready when the packers showed up. I’m not sure I will ever be completely ready. The next pack out will be sometime early next year, hopefully in January if I successfully pass the first attempt at my Mandarin Chinese test. We will again be departing from temporary quarters during training, the majority of my things awaiting sea transport from a Hagerstown, MD warehouse.
At 3 pm the Consulate brought over the Welcome Kit – this is generally a large trunk of items such as bedding, towels, plateware, silverware, coffee maker, pots and pans, TV, etc., the items that should help you get along when you have only what you could pack in your suitcases (or in your car in the case of border posts). We received the Welcome Kit when we first arrive at post, and again after our pack out. I waved goodbye to the truck, or rather my things, as it pulled away.
At 4 pm my nanny returned with my daughter and I braced myself for her reaction. I had been feeling like a rather wicked mommy not buying her anything new recently (with the exception of toys that were inflatable!) and many of her toys recently had been sold, given away, or packed up. I should not have worried! My almost 2 ½ year old daughter is a travel pro! She has, by the way, already lived in two countries (US and Mexico) and traveled to five other countries (UAE, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Ireland, and the United Kingdom twice). For her second birthday I signed her up for her own United Mileage Plus account. In May, after flights to Cancun, Ireland, Salt Lake City, Cincinnati, and Manchester, England, she is already a Silver level member! My little Diplotot!
She entered and started cantering (she loves horses and pretending to ride them) and whooping and hollering Yeehaw! to hear the near echo quality in our now almost empty house. She pulled the cushions off the sofa to do some jumping. She played with her few toys still in the house with extra gusto. And she found the fly swatter in the Welcome Kit to be an amazing new toy (If you see my earlier post about Mosquito Terror, you may understand why. She is taking on her fear and conquering it!).
Still, it has been only three days since the pack out and though part of me likes the very minimalist style of the house and my closet right now, the pack out is the harbinger of my impending departure and though there is much I will miss, I am ready to go.
P.S. By the time the movers left the pedometer was over 13,000 steps. That’s over six miles IN MY HOUSE.
P.S. P.S. My UAB only weighed 324 pounds total!