It’s 4:00 am and the movers are coming in four hours. What’s the point of going to bed at this point? It seems especially useless since my bed is covered in piles of clothes and I’ll be sleeping on the couch tonight anyway. My instructions were to stack up everything I want shipped to Pakistan in a specific location and they would do the rest. (Which, I have to say, is the WAY to pack. How fantastic is not having to scrounge up boxes by hanging around the backdoor of the liquor store? I do not miss this.)
So this is what a year in Pakistan looks like, in stuff. Plus all the clothes on the bed, of course. In the end I don’t think I did too badly. Fully 30% of what you see is non-perishable food items. I hit it hard at Trader Joe’s, Shaw’s, and Whole Foods to amass the pile of high quality snacks and absolute essentials you see before you. With it, I can make the following feasts for an ex-pat community hungry for non-naan: Mexican, Italian, Thai, Chinese, American, and Crunchy-Hippie-Vegan. (Note, for example, the Bragg’s Amino Acids. If you don’t know what that is, it just means you’re not crunchy hippie or vegan). I have mac & cheese to get me through those days of homesickness for the US, roasted red peppers to put on my famous zucchini pizza assuming I can ever find gouda in Pakistan, and Celtic Sea Salt because my naturopath told me iodized salt is from the devil. Most people send their couches, bookcases, and beds to their country of posting, I send food. No one who knows me is surprised by this.
But it’s not all food. I also brought a very practical pair of high brown boots and an even more practical pair of 4-inch platforms. (I can wear them for about one hour before the throbbing forces me to take them off and go barefoot. But they are really, really cute.) I brought a photo album recently stuffed with pictures of all my friends and family so I can flip through and show them off to my new friends in Islamabad, and about a hundred CDs because I am in the technological dark ages and it doesn’t occur to me to just burn them all to my computer until it is already four in the morning and that idea sounds wretched and horrible. I brought a salad spinner in a show of “if you build it, they will come” type hopefulness despite hearing from every single person I’ve asked that you can’t get lettuce in Pakistan. I have work shoes and dish towels and a pack of Christmas cards because I have convinced myself yet again that this is the year I will send them out. I have a vase to put fresh flowers in and a silicone baking mat so I can roll out pie dough. (This is not the time to remind me that I will be working 60-hour weeks that don’t include much time for baking and general Martha Stewart merriment. Let the bubble burst later.)
I’m sure I’ve forgotten ten or twenty really important things. But I just can’t worry about it right now, because I still have a little time to take a nap before the movers get here, ideally while still fully dressed so we don’t have a repeat performance of the bed-head and inappropriate pajamas show that I put on for them last time they came over for the home assessment. That was super classy. I’m quite sure the owner of the company, who unlike me was wide awake and wearing street clothes, thought I was a big fat liar when I told him I was leaving the country to do strategic communications for a government initiative in Pakistan. Maybe because I had been sleeping at eleven o’clock in the morning, or because of all the dirty wineglasses in the kitchen, or because of the moment when he had to carefully and professionally step over the discarded bra and dirty socks in the middle of the bedroom floor while computing the likely weight of all the clothes in my closet. Hard to say, exactly.
Tomorrow it will be my turn to be professional. When the doorbell rings, I will spring up from my light nap on the couch, wearing jeans instead of the dazed look of a startled vampire, wide awake and ready to point to my neat and not at all haphazard stacks of stuff. I will offer him coffee and demonstrate the very careful folding and piling I did to contribute to this project. I’m sure he will be pleased.
Update, 10:57 am: the movers have come and gone, after arriving promptly at 8:04. (At which point I was deeply, deeply asleep in the middle of some tropical island type dream and possibly not quite as light and springy as I had planned to be.) In the end I am sending 739 pounds of stuff to Pakistan, which is much less than a normal international shipment, apparently. It doesn’t seem like “less” of anything. I am very nervous after hearing from the mover in charge that I shouldn’t be “surprised” if my food doesn’t make it to the other side as customs are historically very anti food shipments. Something about bugs. All my dreams of taco nights in the diplomatic enclave or spaghetti dinners to break up all the curry are in jeopardy. Send good thoughts the way of my cardboard boxes…