Last week we undertook our biannual ritual of packing the necessities and treasures acquired in the US over the summer in preparation for our return to Jordan. While there is always some anxiety accompanying this process, this years' packing was the easiest ever, and that even after finding out that we had less baggage allowance than we had thought (international baggage allowance has been reduced to one free check on bag). I ruminated on the reasons for this:
- We are are packing for just three people and so we need less things.
- We have reduced our consumption of sweets and processed foods, so we don't bring back as many "treats"--just a few bags of chocolate chips.
- More things are now available in Jordan
- I am creating/crafting from recycled materials, so there is no need to bring back fabric, etc.
- We have two college students plus medical bills, which translates into less money to fritter away on "stuff". (I'd like to think that I've never frittered away money, but alas, I'm afraid I have.)
- Kindles. Don't tell Amazon, but I would purchase one at double the price.
The night before we traveled, a dear friend and fellow overseas dweller for 18 years and I reminisced, and laughed loudly, about our many packing and transporting-of-goods adventures--and misadventures. Especially trying were the days of raising small children overseas. Imported clothes, shoes, toys, and books, if they were even available, were exorbitantly expensive, so we packed all our garage sale finds of Fisher Price toys, Duplos then Legos, shoes and clothes, which the children grew out of so quickly at that age.
I'm glad we can look back and laugh at those then anxiety producing moments, which are now part of our family lore:
Dear husband, of UPS training, has worked for two days to pack twelve (or more--what was I thinking?!) 70 pound boxes/pieces of luggage back in the days of more generous baggage allowances, occasionally calling out to me in exasperation, "Do we really need this??" I learned not to launch into a logical defense of why each suspect item was needed, but to simply and meekly reply, "yes, we do," and leave the room. On this point, my dear friend's recollection of the packing process is identical.
It is sometimes embarrassing, not to mention expensive, buying a two-year supply of personal hygiene products. A grocery store checker once asked me if I ran a shelter for women.
My children learned to pull carry-ons holding half their weight at a very young age. They were drilled with the procedure for getting through check-in and boarding the plane: "Don't ever complain about your carry-on being too heavy. Just smile confidently and keep going."
Some of the more unusual items we've packed back to Jordan: a large bouquet of silk flowers (undamaged, I might add, despite dire predictions by Dear Husband), pots and pans, Italian pottery, drum cymbals, a microwave, smoked salmon, live plants, china tea cups, picture frames, and specimens for biology class. This year Dear Husband didn't so much as raise an eyebrow when I informed him of my plan to bring back a number of lavender plants in my carry-on. He's seen it all. I know it is his dream to travel light someday--just his passport, wallet, notebook/computer and Kindle, all in one small case, which makes his willingness to juggle two carry-ons through four airports all the more appreciated by me.
We've now unpacked all our tangible goods; the suitcases are empty and put away. My heart, however remains full of summer memories, memories of God's gracious and generous provisions for our family and of good times with our children, who are now residing in three different time zones--four, if you count Tayta here with us. Retro-blogging, here I come.