Monday, September 25, 2006

Preparing for the Our Ship(ment) to Arrive

Entry for 25 September 2006:

Last Friday night the movers for the UK end of our move phoned to say that our stuff had cleared customs and would be delivered this coming Tuesday (as I write this, that is tomorrow). We had been trying to track the journey of our container, which had left Detroit on September 5, on board a ship called Ever Diadem. At times, we have felt like members of a cargo cult, waiting for John Frum (derived from “John from America”) to arrive with all kinds of goodies for us. Last week, we noticed that our ship was late, which we attributed to Hurricane Gordon, whose effects we felt here in the form mostly of high winds. So it was good news to learn that our things were not at the bottom of the Atlantic and would soon be here.

Bizarrely, this has only made us more anxious. This has been building all weekend, at first a sense of things being out of balance, but by today it emerged as crankiness and a general funk on both our parts. It turns out that we had just about gotten used to living out of a suitcase in the nearly 4 weeks since we’ve been here. Our life here has been light and relatively uncluttered by the weight of material possessions. True, I keep running out of socks, or underwear, or trousers, depending which load was not done last; also, it’s been almost a month since we were able to cut a carrot without risk to out fingers. But in the warped funhouse mirror of hindsight, such inconveniences now seem a small price to pay for the lack of clutter and crowding.

That all changes tomorrow, and we will have to find places for all these things we’ve chosen to bring along with us, a kind of “greatest hits” of our life in Toledo. Things will need to go in closets, under beds, and in the small attic. My office at work will be filled with 27 boxes of books and data. We will have to make room here for various bookshelves and kitchen items. It will be good to be able to cook using good knives and cookware. However, having more clothes to wear won’t change the fact that our washing machine is too small to wash many of those clothes at the same time anyway, and the house is going to feel much smaller. Also, we will start having to pay to have a bunch of our furniture stored, which I’m sure is going to drive us crazy as a waste of money.

But getting our things will be another step forward in our life here. It will give us more that is familiar with which to surround ourselves, and that should help reduce the sense of dislocation. It will motivate us to begin looking for a more permanent place to live. And maybe that is the hardest part about getting our stuff: That it is a sign of the permanence of our move; it means that we are no longer just visitors living out of our suitcases. Instead, it signifies that we have really arrived and now must make the most of our new life here.

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