I am sure the dilemma we find ourselves in has been faced by all who have become ex-pats (if only for a year)--what to bring and what to leave behind.
Today, as we were packing very large duffels for our preparatory trip to Italy on Saturday, I said to Ken: "You know, once we are there our mantras will be 'Why did we bring this?' and 'How could we not have brought that.'" What now seems important may not be, but, for sure, things we have left behind will call out to us in stereo as time goes by.
Last Sunday we packed--or stuffed--one of the duffels and trotted off to the airport to get an official opinion as to whether it was overweight or too big. Fortunately, we were OK on both accounts and so now have 5 large duffels crammed with stuff to leave with friends in Chiocchio until our arrival July 31. We also have two carry-ons along with a small computer bag for each of us. We are taking full advantage of all the luggage and weight allowances both now and for the final trip. This means altogether 850 lbs and 12 checked bags plus carry ons. Except for the M-bag of books sent USPS, what we cram in is what we will have.
Now--this includes clothes, spices, speakers for our IPOD which we have loaded with all our CD's, coat hangers (yes--coat hangers), beach towels, medicines, shoes, boots, coats, Christmas decorations, printer paper (1 ream because paper size is different in Europe and we may want our size for something), El Patio hot sauce, Smokin Joes Barbecue sauce, legos, toys, picture albums, pictures, kitchen knives, 2 computers and so much more.
I know that some of you are saying "Why in the world are they bringing that?" Believe me, I have heard it from Ken already. The answers are: 1.) It is convenient not to have to go out and buy everything right away 2.) I usually can't find the kind of coathangers I like when in Italy, 3.) I like some of my things--such as my knives 4.) Sometimes I am compulsive and don't make a lot of sense 5.) "Italy may not have it."
Of course, Italy is not a third world country and it is cultivated and civilized--in fact, it was this for centuries before the U S of A was even a gleam in someone's eye. From where else do we get much of the foundation for what we are if not from Italia and Greece? And isn't Italy the fashion and culinary Eden of the 21st century? So--why in the world would anyone think to bring a jar of Italian Spices with them--actually, I am not doing that--I've run out of room.
Seriously, though, it is difficult to make decisions and to be wise with those decisions. Yes--we can get most of what we want (except for chedder cheese) once we are there. But--with the dollar weak and the euro strong, the cost of buying things we can bring with us is a real consideraton.
So--we pack and pack and pack. Then panic because the car we have rented can't begin to hold it all. Remember those days of yesteryear--when a college activity was to see how many kids could fit into a VW (I remember reading of that in a history book) and you will understand the dilemma. Fortunately, Alessandro, our already wonderful landlord, is going to meet us at the Pisa airport and help transport our possessions. For people who have prided themselves in traveling light, this is all a little overwhelming.
On another note: The LA Consulate still has our passports--this is Tuesday and we fly out on Saturday--unless we can't. I talked with Patrizia at the consulate yesterday who promised that if the visa approval has not come from Rome by noon tomorrow, she will express mail our passports back to us--meaning we will get them on Thursday.
So--we calmly, serenely wait for this to happen--not daring or caring to think about what happens if they don't arrive in time. That is a worry for another day and it couldn't possibly happen--could it?
Stay tuned for the conclusion of this chapter of our crazy adventure--I hope it will be written in Greve.
God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.