christmas in september

One of the inevitabilities of foreign service life is moving, and lots of it. We’ve already moved to a different continent and back, and we’re doing the same in May: three continents in the first two years of our marriage! As if we wanted more, after moving to Oakwood Falls Church in the beginning of September, we moved to another Oakwood property last Wednesday.

The State Department does try to reduce moving headaches by actually shipping all of our stuff for us — but things still get pretty complicated. For example, although I did make some lists of what should be packed where, Grant had to deal with the Tashkent pack out without me (thanks Grant!). Our stuff was separated into things to go on the plane, UAB that would be shipped to DC, and household effects (HHE), which would be sent to Belgium until we arrive in Serbia, when it will be sent to us. Additionally, we don’t know whether we will be living in an apartment or a house, which means we had to try to have the HHE boxes packed strategically, in case we have an apartment and don’t want (or can’t fit) everything. 

The move from Falls Church to Rosslyn was more stressful than either of us had anticipated. It required two trips with the car and took all afternoon, from right after class to  dinner (which was Thai delivery; I’d forgotten how wonderful delivery is). Last March, we had requested to be placed in Rosslyn, but were told that there was no room so we would be placed on a waiting list. We would definitely get to live in Rosslyn; it was only a matter of when. Fast forward a month or two, and there was no word from Oakwood as to when we would be able to switch. When we contacted them, we were told they “didn’t know.” I thought this strange, considering they were able to tell us in March that we couldn’t move in at the beginning of September… so one would assume that by May — or August, or early September — they would be able to at least provide an educated guess, if not an exact date.

Ultimately, Grant bothered them enough so that one afternoon we got a call from someone saying we could move to Rosslyn in a few days. This was very good news, especially because we were anxious to have our 450 lbs of UAB delivered. I was really excited to move and get everything all settled in at our semi-permanent apartment, without having to wonder when we’d be picking up and moving a few miles. Falls Church is a nice community, but it is more like living in the suburbs and, at least for the time being, I really want to be in more of a city. In the end, the move wasn’t terrible, just time-consuming. It was complicated by the fact that when we walked into the new apartment, we found that the ceiling in the living room was falling down! There was plaster all over one corner of the room. Fortunately, the front desk was able to move us right away and we ended up in an exact replica one floor higher.

And the next day we got our UAB delivered!

That weird box in the front was made for Grant’s bike, which he had already unpacked by the time I got a camera out.

Getting our UAB was like Christmas, only better, because it was so much stuff and we already knew we loved it all! It was particularly fun for me because I wasn’t sure exactly what Grant had packed. Additionally my complaints of specific missing items are no longer: this apartment happened to have a soup ladle, and both an ice cream scoop and our Uzbek teapot were in our UAB. Win.

I’m happy to have our knives, garlic press, favorite pots, and other little things. In fact, I used the garlic press within minutes of Grant unpacking it. Scarlett is happy to have her favorite dog bed and some more of her toys… and clothes. Well, I don’t know if she’s happy about the clothes, but she did model her Hoyas jersey for Grant’s mom, and I’m glad we have some kind of jacket to throw on her for when it gets really cold. (Disclaimer: neither Grant nor I actually purchased any clothing for her. Everything she has was a gift from someone… and we love it all!)

In the Foreign Service, one must be flexible and able to look on the bright side of things. I’m usually pretty flexible and while I can’t say I’m a born optimist, I am learning to be one. With all the packing and shipping and moving and unpacking we’ll be doing over the years, we’ll get the joy of rediscovering our favorite things over and over! I foresee many more Christmases in [insert a time of year] to come…


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