It’s getting close. Kids and I have an itinerary that says 14 May. There are still beds and a couple tables in the house, and more than everything we need to get by; still a small flock of chickens wandering the yard and leaving five or six eggs each morning, and one broody that M’barek couldn’t resist loading before he left. I’ll be passing along chickens and chicks, I suppose, whenever they decide to hatch. We’re working ahead on school work. M’barek is already over there, counting the days until we arrive and looking for that perfect place to keep us while we search for a home and family car and try to get the kids off a school waiting list.
Tomorrow, the shippers arrive. We have two shipments, one to our destination with our household goods, and one to Morocco with our useful-to-someone cast-offs: bee suits, work boots, warm coats, tools. My job is to complete inventories of the shipments for shipping insurance, and I will also need to write a French-language inventory for Moroccan customs.
We have a limit of a thousand pounds, air freight. Outside the obvious organizational challenge to someone like me, it is a fun sort of exercise, not unlike a desert-island kind of thing. What would your shipment contain? Ours holds:
– 5 sheepskins, 1 Berber rug, 1 wedding blanket, my husband’s grandmother’s striped shawl
– The stainless steel pots/pans, couscousiere, teapots, French presses, cooking utensils
– Moroccan serving dishes, camping dishes, silly coffee cups, aprons
– A wall clock my parents bought us 10 years ago
– All our bric-a-brac from around the world that has been housed in a glass built-in gun case since we moved here: items have come from Costa Rica, Uzbekistan, Egypt, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and a few places we have actually been
– Towels and sheets, nice soaps, shampoo, shave cream, blades for M’barek’s razor
– Family photos, still waiting to be sorted and smacked into albums, and which I assume will continue to be hauled around in a plastic tote for many years to come
– About 30 books, probably more than I should be packing along, but there you go
– 4 bikes, 2 camp chairs, ratchet straps, inflator pump for the car, sleeping bags
I am confident that we can get most of what we need on the ground. I’ve been cruising forums and feeling self-righteous about the all the expats who will “just die” without Kraft Mac & Cheese, or this or that thing from the USA. I’m sure we’ll have some unanswered craving that was unexpected, and won’t I have an ego check, but this has happened before and I survived.
More important anyway are the things that will ride along in the suitcases, and most important, the carry-on. Mine will hold important documents, laptop, a book, toothbrush, and all the usuals of my giant bag. The children each have a backpack and will carry a change of clothes, a toy, a book and personal toiletries.
I’m also taking stock of the decade-plus spent here. What gifts: M’barek learned English and went from working the 12-hour shift at the birdseed factory to teaching people how to operate, maintain and troubleshoot some pretty advanced equipment. Noah and Meryem joined us. I finished three marathons and landed what amounted to my dream job. We’ve raised all sorts of livestock, grown gorgeous gardens, and enjoyed the most wonderful food since moving to the farm. I’ve learned to make bread and pickles. Together, we put hundreds of chickens in the freezer. M’barek tuned up an old tractor. We delivered lambs and kids, fed bottle babies, lost a ewe to tetanus, got thrown against the wall by an emu. It has been a lot of hard work, and the best times of all have been the opportunities to work together on the farm stuff. Both our souls settle out there and recognize one another like the day we met. We’d light bonfires and sit under the stars on weekends, and it was enough.
And I could go on for thousands of words about family and friendship. My family stepped in to be there not just for me, but also for M’barek, knowing they could never replace his, but offering the most authentic surrogate anyone could. And friends, well. Those are another entire family to us, and we are lucky and rich.
He never quite mastered stacking a haymow, cleaning up after himself, or organizing all his errands into a single trip. He traveled too much to ever have enjoyed an entire lambing season. I never figured out how to keep the house clean, and cooking meals kept me inside too much for my taste. We both worked too much, and often it was hard to just enjoy the time outdoors. I never got to love the gardens like he did, and so the weeds often won. I like hanging laundry perhaps a little too much, and folding it far too little. And in spite of the months spent preparing for this move, it still seems to have appeared out of nowhere.
It hasn’t been perfect, but it has.