Archive for June, 2013

Busy as bees

Photo by Amsterdamized, under a Creative Commons License

I’d thought up this lovely metaphor to build a post around. About how little bits and pieces of our physical life are spreading, pollinating the households of our friends and acquaintances and bringing new colours into their lives.

Except after having to spend time thinking about whether this-or-that-cable is actually needed to connect some vital instrument to some other important thing or whether it is a remnant of some older technological shizzle already discarded, and contemplating which of the six nail clippers gets to be The Chosen One and go into a box for shipping, metaphors can go stuff themselves where the sun does not shine overly much (except in cases of excessive flatulence, perhaps).

Eh. Let’s not go there.

Five more days until the house is signed over to the new owners. This means four more days until it needs to be empty and clean. In the mean time there’s a family event and a visa interview to attend to. It’s sort of busy.

We’re doing fine. We’ve brought down unpacked inventory to ‘camping in the home’ levels, and have sorted furniture and smaller items into destination piles, with the designated recipients ready to start picking things up. We’re seeding a household for someone who is remigrating from the US, giving art supplies to an artisan woodworking friend, giving shelves and electronics to the friends that recently moved to town and sorted through all the stained, bent, sloshy bottles and rusty tins of strange-smelling liquids that magically assemble in the time you own a home. I’d like to think we’re doing a reasonable job with keeping our footprint small, donating and sharing what we can and only throwing out what is beyond reuse.

There is another way in which we’re making our footprint smaller. By selling the house, we’ll be getting rid of the last debt we still owed. It’ll be a new beginning, one of living smaller, lighter, less tied down.

Pokes and prods

Or: in which the Smitten Immigrant goeth and is doctored at for visa purposes.

I found myself in this quaint room, with yellow vinyl flooring and little flyers about yellow fever and the hepatitis ABC. I was sat between pair of men (one with the striped cane used by legally blind people) speaking a language full of tongue clicks and a mother and a child, speaking (what I think was) Italian. I waited and tried not to look too neurotic.

The younger doctor whisked me away to a tiny room in which the assistent was making loud phone calls. He sat me down in a cramped corner and took some of my  blood. He then sent me back to my chair in the yellow-floored room.

The assistent came in and made me fill out paperwork, while the other waiting folks were having their blood taken or were otherwise out of the waiting room.  I handed her the little booklet that my parents have kept since birth to write in every shot I ever received. She left, I waited.

The younger doctor came in, sent another patient out of the waiting room and interviewed me. Filled out more paperwork and I got back my booklet. He left, I waited.

The older doctor came and took me into the actual examination room for ‘The Physical’.  The following results are now known:

– My blood pressure is fine.

– Not smoking is The Best Thing I Can Do For Myself.

– I am half an inch taller than I thought I was. Ha! (Actually, he measured me as almost a full inch taller, but we took half off because I wore sneakers).

– I weigh about ten pounds less than I thought I did*. Which is like free good feelings, and who doesn’t like those?  (I totally had cookies to celebrate, don’t laugh)

– I’m good for another decade of exposure to diphtheria,  tetanus and polio. Always good, I suppose (although I would like to be whiny, because my upper arm is sore from the shot and I couldn’t sleep on my side because of it). Bring on the germs!

– I just do not seem to be the type of person to ‘really’ be unemployed (or so the doctor said when he questioned me fatherly about what I’d studied and what my last job was and what I was working on, since I said I didn’t get paid for anything just now).

Then, I was sent on my way to find the x-ray clinic, where there was more waiting (this time with chatty people who I could understand). Once taken in, I was instructed  to strip my top half and press my bare tits against one end of the x-ray apparatus. I was told to strike a strange pose and take a deep breath.

.. mmkay

Change of pose. Another breath.

Done. Please get dressed before you leave, Smitten Immigrant. People will look at you funny. It’s also chilly out.

Oh, and if I don’t get a call in a week I do not have syphilis or tuberculosis, meaning that no health issue will prevent me from getting a visa.


* I do not own a scale for purposes of weight-neurosis prevention and body acceptance encouragement, meaning that I only step on one very rarely.

A variety of goodbyes

Not the shelter dog I mention, but a lookalike who appears equally sweet. Photo by Dimmerswitch under a Creative Commons License

So, the moment of actual emigration is coming closer rapidly. There are times where I sort of forget about it and there are times where the imminent departure seems overwhelming in its presence. Thirty-seven nights until we will actually board an airplane, clutching a one-way ticket can seem like an eternity (when procrastinating on packing up All The Books) or the blink of an eye.

Thirty-seven nights are NOTHING when I’m wondering how many ‘goodbyes’ I can fit in.

Because, unsurprisingly (I suppose), I’m doing a lot of saying goodbye.

Some of this saying goodbye is of the straightforward-yet-painful kind. Like when Beloved and I went to London recently to see some friends. We had splendid, sun-soaked times with some of our very nearest and dearest. You know, those people that you can call your ‘chosen family’ and not even feel cheesy about it because it’s just true and there isn;t another word for what these folks are to you. It’s straightforward because all involved knew and understood why we were there. Hugs were given, good wishes were exchanged and (in my case) a tear or two was shed, which I don’t think anybody noticed (good!). I’ll miss those humans, but I get to say goodbye and have that goodbye be understood. We’re all sad over parting, but we’ll be okay, we’ll meet again and it will be good. Distance will not change things between these folks and us.

Other goodbyes are different. They happen when I open up the kitchen cupboard and wonder if I should buy another pack of coffee or if we’ll have enough. How many dishwasher tabs should I buy to ensure we can have clean dishes, yet won’t need to deal with a pile of leftover tabs upon vacating our house. What _is_ our weekly use rate of toilet paper, anyway? How do I make our physical goodbye clean, simple and waste-free? How do we leave with our affairs in order? How to say goodbye to the mundanities of a settled life? How to say goodbye to the routines, to knowing what you’ll have for breakfast, to knowing your preferred brand of coffee, apple juice, fast food.

Goodbyes happened when winter refused to leave my country and I was secretly sort of happy, despite everybody else complaining, because we’re going to California and myth has it that coastal north California really only has foggy pseudo-winters, and I might miss winter when I’m there. They happen when I see the jutting angles of milk cows in water-surrounded fields, and when I see ducklings, because while I look forward to living with raccoons, hummingbirds and banana slugs (well, maybe not the slugs), it won’t be home. How do you say goodbye to a place? Can you Skype the colours of fall, or have an e-mail exchange with the smell of coffee roasting if the wind blows to the east? Does ‘finding chestnuts in the street, which must mean that summer is over’ have a blog I can comment on?

Goodbyes certainly also happened when – a few weeks ago – I received a call from the pet shelter I volunteer at that this one particular dog.. This one sweet, senior dog that had been there since I’d started volunteering.. This one dog that the shelter staff and interns said preferred me over  the other workers (and I played favourites with him too, because who can deny a dog that loves you?).. This one dog that had been at the shelter for a year, or so, had finally been adopted out to a loving home. That was a weird one, because I didn’t actually get to say goodbye – he was adopted and picked up in the period between two of my normal volunteer days.. I only got to feel relief over not having to abandon him when I would leave, over not having to be the next human to leave this helpless, loving furball to his own devices. How do you say goodbye to that? To the creatures and the causes that have your heart but don’t understand your words?

Then, there is the Big Goodbye. This weekend I sent out invites to those (remotely) local to us, asking them to join Beloved and me some time in the near future for a farewell party . This is the goodbye for All The Humans. Colleagues, cousins, those people that you know and like, but for the life of you can’t remember when you first met them, all those folks get a place. Peple that you’ll maybe never get to see again after this meeting. I am envisioning something that reminds me of how people describe their weddings sometimes: a way for our extended community to join in and support us in the endeavour we undertake.

I look forward to that one. It’ll be festive. There will be laughing. There will be hugs. I’ll be seeing people I haven’t seen in way too long and there will be people I see quite often. There will be people for which this goodbye will be the last one. It will be a goodbye, but it will be tangible and ‘easy’  in the sense that it is inevitable, but okay, or maybe even good. I hope to come away from that goodbye feeling like I wrapped something up, that something has been done and done well.

Maybe the humans are actually the easiest to part from.