Let’s pretend that you are about seven years old. Let’s pretend also that you have put all ‘special’ things in a cigar box. Maybe some marbles, a favorite rock, a picture, you know favorite things. Say the big, freckled, overweight, red-headed bully finds out about this box, or you brought it to school for show and tell and then at recess when you are playing with it, maybe finding more favorite things or showing them to your best friend the big, freckled, red-headed bully comes and takes this box from you and while you sob in fear he shakes it like crazy. You’re afraid that your favorite rock is banging into your favorite picture and scratching it all up or that little doll that your aunt brought you from Guatemala is getting it’s arms and legs bent out of shape. You jump and down straining at his long arms (freakishly long and thick for a seven year old) and cry until he stops drops it at your feet, in the dirt, and walks away.
Then you take the box and run away and hide it in your desk, hoping the bully didn’t see you. He didn’t but Wally, the smelly kid, who also happens to be the bully’s buck toothed goon, does and he tells the bully. At lunch the bully sneaks into the classroom, opens your desk, opens the box, and takes out that Guatemalan doll and that baseball card that your brother gave you in a rare moment of generosity.
When you find those items missing you are bewildered, in your childhood innocence you can’t imagine that anyone would take anything from you, and you have no idea where they went. You ransack your desk multiple times, until your teacher finds you crying after school. She comforts you and you walk home, on your way home your favorite rock works it’s way out of the box, down to the bottom of your backpack, and out the very tiny hole in the left hand corner of your backpack, making the hole the exact size of your favorite rock.
This is what it feels like to move internationally. Your stuff is that cigar box. In it are all the things that you deemed important enough to haul all they way across the world. Be they personal items that are irreplaceable, or just your favorite tank top that you love because it matches your eyes. Or the stroller that your in-laws kindly bought for you that they have now discontinued. You pack these things up, your husband and you, things end up in places that you wouldn’t put them organizationally because you have to pay attention to weight and not putting like things together. So the frying pan ends up wrapped in clothes, the duvet ends up snaked around picture frames. You two lovingly pack them up and upon arrival back in the states you have conversations like this one:
“Scott where’s the address book?” I ask in desperation because I have just ransacked all the logical places looking for it because I cannot remember if my mother’s zip code is 92009 or 92024. (Here it goes in your best New York Jewish Mother accent, ‘You don’t even know your own mother’s zip code?’ I’ve moved a lot in the past few years and only have so much memory space for addresses, things got bounced out.)
“What address book?”
“You know the brown leather thing, with ALL OUR ADDRESSES IN IT!”
“I haven’t seen it, not since we got back,” it slowly dawns on you…
“You mean we left it in Kenya?” You ask incredulously.
“I mean, we must have.”
So if you are reading this and I have mailed you anything in the past, or say invited you to my wedding, could you send me your address again? That includes immediate family and wedding party members. Remember only so much room, I love you and your exact address probably got bounced out.
(Ugh, even your own mother, oy, my heart, it bleeds.)