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  • Susie Csorsz Brown

Management of déménagement

This is dedicated to those of us who repeatedly relocate, for whatever reason.

Tonight, we leave our little zone of comfort, our home for the last 4 years and head off into a summer filled with relocations, medical check-ups, and visits with friends and family. We won't be bored: schlepping our 10 pieces of luggage plus carry-ons to and fro, receiving and then organizing to send 2 shipments, and oozing money on rental cars, lodging, and consumables. We've done this before; this is going to be our 7th assignment with the State Department. There are both good parts and bad parts to the repeated relocations, this odd practice we do to ourselves, going back 'home' so we don't forget how to be Americans, reconnecting with our families and friends, and then moving to a brand-new-to-us city.

:( Leaving our comfort zone - We KNOW this city. (Well, I do; my hubby is rather directionally challenged, so he does not know how to get from point A to point B unless it is our home or work. Maybe the grocery store.) But I know this place. I know the place for the best chicken. I know where to get amazing fabric, and how much it should cost. I know how to tell a taxi to bugger off, and I know how to barter down the price of mangoes. I know where to get the best sunblock in Dakar, and I know the back roads and short cuts. I know who gives the best curly hair haircuts, and I know to expect the bizarre traffic delays from some inevitable snafu/cow herd/motorcade. I know the hand-out-the-window gestures. I know where the best horn chairs can be found. I know the 'rules of the road,' I know the ins and outs of this city. This IS my comfort zone right now.

:) The thrill of discovering someplace new - At one point, 'here' too was foreign. At one point, we didn't know where to buy good mangoes, grocery shopping was a burden, and getting fresh chicken and fish seemed like an unsolvable puzzle. At one point, THIS seemed really challenging. To be here in this francophone country with bumbling French and no friends ... no car, no idea where ANYTHING was ... it felt like a lot. I had to find my community, find my groove, find my place. And I did. I know I can do it again in our soon-to-be-home. Partly, because my family is depending on me to do it. Partly, too, because I am depending on me to do it. I'm going to enjoy doing it, too, if it kills me. Again. For the 7th time (one tour was unaccompanied). That's a lot of practice to fall back on.

:( It's okay to have angst. Seriously, another move?! Another city?! Another reincarnation of what 'me' is? Tiresome. And again, it's been a long time since high school, but I still remember the whole 'new kid' feeling and, even as an adult, I HATE that. And my kids! They really will be the new kids. Thankfully, though, they will be amongst many so I am sure they will slide right into new friendships. Will I? Probably, too, but it's hard to leave this place, where I have my people and my familiar. I see faces, and know them. I see faces, and I know names, and families, and stories. I was talking (okay, whining) about this with one of my go-to friends, and she very wisely reminded me that everyone likes a new audience. Everyone wants to tell their stories to new people. So ... I just need to remember that when I'm in that big group of faces I don't yet know. We trailing EFMs don't have the luxury of having our connections made in the work place (especially with no embassy employment options right now). Our employee spouses go to work, meet people, spend the day with other adults in a meaningful (hopefully) way; we are at home with jet-lagged kids, the stuff in our luggage and a welcome kit.

:) A good attitude gets you far. I want to be thrilled about our move to a new place. I want to be so happy about the new city, and new adventures awaiting us. And mostly, I am. And, because I am an glass-half-full kind of a person, I like to think I'll land on my feet and be a good guide for my boy herd to discovering the new environ and get into a good groove. I like to think we'll meet nice people and find a new community to enjoy. I like to think I'll like having a lot of time to volunteer at school, or wherever else I find to spend time in a useful manner. Maybe I'll develop a new hobby, like making mosaics or painting. Maybe I'll just blog a lot. ;) what I know for sure is that it's a new adventure, and having a positive frame of mind will make it seem more approachable and enjoyable rather than insurmountable.

:( I miss my stuff already! Okay, the welcome kit is nice because you don't have to think about putting dishes, towels and linens in your suitcase. We arrive to a furnished house. Our utilities are turned on, our space is mostly clean and we'll (hopefully) have Internet at the house shortly. But it's not 'home' until we get our stuff and make it 'ours.' Getting color on the walls, getting our good kitchen supplies, our big roomy king size bed, and all of our accoutrements. I miss knowing which drawer that thing is (you know, the one your child/husband is asking for, and you know it is in the third drawer down on the right, probably a little towards the back). I miss my good kitchen knives. I miss the art on the walls. I miss the hooks for the keys by the front door. I miss the basket for the change and flotsam in the entry. I miss my stuff.

:) This keeps us from hoarding, and amassing too much stuff. How can you amass when you only have so many pounds to move with, no matter how many members your family members may have. (We pared down considerably, and each year getting rid of extra things and donating clothes, etc; still we were over our limit.) The kids know: not every childhood 'gem' can be saved (They try to get around this by dubbing things 'favorite'). We've digitized photos, important documents, and a lot of our books. Kids' art, too, lives in our cloud gallery. The more we can get up there and out of the actual house, the better. If the boys had their way, they would each have a small warehouse of 'treasures;' sometimes I wonder if this repeated harsh downsizing isn't going to make them into hoarders in the future. Will they become those people who have every knickknack and tchotchkes on their shelves? We reduce reuse and recycle, and hopefully our kids will learn that instead of becoming those who save everything.

I mean, we don't get to not go, right? As much as I am whingeing, it isn't as though I really have a choice. So, I guess, if I keep repeating the positive parts of this, I will eventually convince myself: this move is a good thing, and we will love our new place. Eventually, it too will be 'home.' I will so miss this one, though. This home, this place, these people have been everything. I will hold it in my heart, no matter where I may wander.

o much. Mostly plants." Michael Pollan

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