Way before arriving in Indonesia, newly hired international teachers receive an email from a company that requests that you let them know when you’d like them to come and pack up your things. This happens when the idea of moving is still a date . . . an anticipated experience . . . a curiosity.
But then the day arrives. You’ve sorted through your things. You’ve carefully considered what you will regret leaving behind. You’ve decided what you will store, but should have taken to GoodWill in the most recent haul. Then, three men come to your house and methodically wrap, label and box things up. Even in retrospect, packing tape ripping, constantly tearing away from itself and then scraping against metal grooves remains unmistakable, constant.
You know that you will not be reunited with your things until you’ve survived at least 2 months in your new adopted country. Then about the end of September, people you know start getting their shipment. They quietly slip away for the day–sanctioned by your new employer. You wonder when your time will come. You hear rumors about the reason for delays. Bribes. KITAS complications. Random piles at the port.
My parents told me that it was like Christmas when their shipment came–back in Korea, many years ago. But then they wondered why they had packed certain items. They realized they had made it on a lot less and questioned if they truly needed what had arrived.
When I received the news that my shipment would be delivered in less than 2 days, I was surprised by mixed feelings. I had been looking forward to my yoga mat, silverware, replenished cleanser and moisturizer, eye medication, plush towels, the Bed Bath and Beyond duvet cover . . . but there was a nagging sense that the shipment represented something.
Everything I was anticipating came. Yes. But what came also were pictures. Pictures of family and friends. Paintings by my dear nieces.
Before I was feeling like I was playing. Just spending time in a temporary tree house in the backyard. The window of Skype like a tin can and string telephone.
But now, the familiar has invaded my “temporary.” I am here. I have arrived. It means I am going to stay. No more pretending. It’s for real.