Our latest move, coming less than half a year after we last packed up our belongings, was the shortest of our Foreign Service career to date. Leaving the apartment we have occupied since arriving in Chisinau in August, we moved to a house that is less than a ten-minute walk down the street. Even so, no matter how many times we relocate, or how often, moving always stresses S out, and this time proved a bit more adventurous than we had anticipated.
Because we knew we would be moving again, we had left more than half of our belongings in the boxes in which they had arrived from Nairobi and Washington. Packing out in Nairobi, we had made an elaborate spreadsheet to track our stuff, which came in very handy when we needed to unpack as little of it as possible so as to make this move smoother. This time, there were no spreadsheets and no crates to worry about. The movers did not even box everything. They arrived Friday morning, packed up the loose items in a few hours, and still had enough time left to load the truck and unload it at the new residence. They returned the following morning to unpack the boxes and take away the packing materials while staff from the Embassy rearranged the furniture, which had been left in the middle of each room in order to enable us to paint.
The Embassy allows new arrivals two leave days to unpack, which D saved for this move. He took Friday and Monday off, which coupled with an early dismissal on Christmas Eve and yesterday’s holiday, gave us five and a half days to set the house in order. Normally, when one settles in after a move, one unpacks boxes one at a time, finding a place for each item before opening the next box. The movers were not going to stick around to help us organize, however. They hurriedly unpacked all of the boxes so that they could dispose of the reams of wrapping paper they had used. When they were done, the house looked as if a small tornado had passed through, strewing the various fragments of our life around in haphazard order.
Because we moved over the weekend, we did not have to vacate our old residence until Sunday night, so we left some things at the apartment, spending two more nights there after the pack-out to give ourselves time to put at least some things away before introducing our dog into an already chaotic mix. The mind works in funny ways. Even though we only spent four months at the apartment and never felt like we had fully settled in, it still felt more like home than the new house, so as we unpacked we constantly caught ourselves sayings things like, “Hey, let’s finish putting away the dishes and then go back to our place to have lunch.”
Sunday morning we got ready to take our remaining belongings to the new house. There was our bedding and toiletries, a refrigerator and freezer full of food, the dog crate, and some clothing (D’s suits and S’s dresses), which we asked the movers not to pack for fear they would get wrinkled. It didn’t seem like a lot, but as we started gathering our things we realized that just the clothes alone would require multiple trips.
We packed a few bags and our large cooler, and D went to call the elevator. It groaned and creaked horribly, taking far longer than normal to ascend to the 4th floor. When the doors finally opened, the carriage floor was a few inches lower than the landing. Some sort of liquid dripped from the roof of the elevator and the hallway reeked of noxious fumes. While D skeptically examined the elevator, the carriage lurched down another inch before jolting half a foot further downward. Just our luck that the elevator should break down on our last day in the apartment building.
Even though settling in to a new house is a time-consuming chore, there is a certain satisfaction to finding just the right place for all of one’s stuff. And now that we have everything unpacked and stored in its place, the house feels much more like a home than the apartment ever did. All that’s left is to hang our pictures and artwork and we’ll be ready to host a housewarming party — just in time for S to fly back to the U.S. to deliver…