Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jealousy about relocating? Really? What is wrong with me?

I can't believe it.  I think I'm jealous.  I hate moving.  With a passion.  But, there I was, driving home from the supermarket, bubbling with jealousy.  Before I headed home, I dropped off a young woman and her baby who just arrived to post yesterday.  As one of their family's sponsors, a friend and I stocked their kitchen, picked them up from the airport, and will show them and drive them around until their car arrives.  They just completed the hellacious journey from Texas to Belgrade with a baby.  They have been waiting for weeks to receive orders so they could come.  They have been living off of airfreight for a year and a suitcase for months.  All stuff I really, really, dislike.  But I'm jealous.  I am.  I'm jealous.

The day before yesterday we opened up their house.  All that is there is the government issued furniture and the bare-bones items (plates, sheets, towels, etc.) from the "Welcome Kit."  It's a beautiful apartment, part of what was once a grand old home, that's now been divided into several:  rounded fireplace, hard-wood floors, arched entrances.  As my footsteps echoed off the bare walls, I was transported back to my arrivals, the excitement, the relief, the hope.

You can picture it, can't you?  You are finally home, walking into this skeleton of a house, with generic furniture, and empty cabinets; you are home.  Discovery is around every corner; "Oh look!" a sun-porch behind the heavy curtains over by the couch, a peek outside and you discover a nice, green yard and a view of the neighbor's pool (hmmm, gotta get to know them!).  There's toilet paper in the bathroom and food in the fridge.  Someone made you dinner.  You feel so blessed, so lucky.  People are so nice.  A block away you discover a park, a pharmacy, a bakery.  Wow, this is your neighborhood.  This is your house.  Finally.  Not all of it is roses.  You make your eyes flit over the rough spots.  Every place has rough spots, some more than others.  This is your home now.  You feel some ownership to this place.

As much as the arrival at every post is the same, the differences are marked.  In Guatemala, my husband saved a moth that died in the laundry room until my son and I arrived.  It was as big as my hand.  The millipedes crawling up the walls were as long as my forearm.  National Geographic in my bedroom!  Awesome!  In Macedonia, we picked apricots and pomegranates from the overgrown and neglected garden (complete with a moldy armchair) outside the student dorms down the street.  We discovered a resident ground hog there.  We had lovely porches for every room of our house, but my neighbor's honing pigeons loved to perch on them, facing my neighbor's house; hence, a line of pigeon bums outside my kitchen windows and pigeon poop slathered all over the porches.  Ah, but who can complain.  It was funny.  The windows were grand, even if the view wasn't.  Again, we are so fortunate, so lucky.  So many of the people outside those windows heat their homes with wood-burning stoves if they are lucky.  Too many make homes out of whatever they can find.

The relief of coming home is immense, after months of living out of a suitcase, you get to put things in drawers.  Your drawers.  You don't have to worry about all of your stuff that you sifted through for months and then packed them in big crates to sail across the ocean.  It's a good thing it takes months for your stuff to arrive.  You need the breather.  You need the space.  Your space.

Home.  Discovery.  Gratitude.  Excitement.  These are the words that describe arriving at a new post for me.  They are wonderful feelings, and they are why I am jealous.  When I was showing our new friend the grocery store today, she marveled at the variety that was offered on the shelves (which maybe equals the selection at a 7/11), I nodded in agreement.

"We've got everything we need," I shrugged.

"We must live large here!"  she said with a smile.

Yes.  Yes, we do.

“Is there anything, apart from a really good chocolate cream pie and receiving a large unexpected cheque in the post, to beat finding yourself at large in a foreign city on a fair spring evening, loafing along unfamiliar streets in the long shadows of a lazy sunset, pausing to gaze in shop windows or at some church or lovely square or tranquil stretch of quayside, hesitating at street corners to decide whether that cheerful and homy restaurant you will remember fondly for years is likely to lie down this street or that one? I just love it. I could spend my life arriving each evening in a new city.” 
― Bill BrysonNeither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe


  1. I loved this post, Stephanie. You beautifully put words to that wistfulness that comes along with the moving that comes with this life we've chosen. Isn't it amazing how so many houses around the world can become 'Home Sweet Home' to our families? Love it.


    1. Thanks so much, Naomi! I love, love, love where we live right now, but I've already got the "bug!" Not that I want to move. Fast forward to the arriving part is more like it. If only I could figure out how to calm the panic and chaos that accompanies pack-out and I'd have it made. But, then again, maybe the appreciation for the landing wouldn't be so sweet. Thanks for sharing!


Postcard Poem: My Serbian Mayfield