Thursday, March 6, 2014

What To Take When You Move Across The World

We are packing for a life in Indonesia. This is some of the internal dialogue that goes through my head.

Well, this item is not that important. No need to take up room in a suitcase to take it across the world.

But.... I don't really want to give it away. It has some sentimental value. I'll pack in our long-term storage trunks and we'll see it in four years.

But.... If I put it in long-term storage and we really do years and years mostly in Indonesia, then this item won't ever be used or out, and I want it to be used or out. I don't want it in trunks collecting dust. After all, we are planning to DO LIFE there. So, we should really be taking our stuff, really and truly transplanting our lives so that we are rooted there rather than here. I'll pack it to to take.

But.... things happen. People have to leave all the time because of sickness, visas, etc. We don't know how long we'll really be there. And everything we put in a suitcase takes up precious space! We really have to count the cost when we are taking almost everything on the plane, lugging them through airports and custom's lines in the middle of the night with sleep deprived children, and potentially paying fees for taking extra baggage.

But... people told us you can't get this item in Indonesia, or at least you can't get it with the same level of quality, so if we care about it we were told to bring our own.

But.... I don't want to transplant my American life to Indonesia. If we take all the things we are used to in America, we will never learn to live without them, and we CAN live without most everything. It will simply mean a period of adjustment. I really strongly believe that we should go very simply, taking what we need, and learn to live in more of an Indonesian style.

But... people strongly encourage us to bring some things that make a place feel like home, comfort items, to get us through the really hard periods ("six month slump") when everything feels strange and home far away and you think you're going crazy. So, is this one of those items for us?


Geez. It gets complicated. I think that ultimately we aren't bringing that much. We will go simply. We are "splurging" to mail Isaac's books, because he will be a professor of theology and needs his resource library. Partly due to my incessant teasing over the past years, this has been stripped down to Isaac's version of the bare minimum.

We have talked and talked about what our comfort items are, the things that truly make a place feel like our home. There isn't much. We've always lived in small apartments, we've always lived like nomads that aren't staying long, and we've been living in an apartment furnished by others for nearly two years. But there are some things. Isaac has always treasured English PG Tips tea as a remnant of growing up in Britain. I treasure my fancy pants coffee making. So, we are taking a few of our mugs and a few things like my Aeropress. We struggle over a few items of decor that are of no real value except to hang on walls and make it feel like home.

There are some random funny things we have to get, like say, a thermometer for the oven because they don't come with thermometers. Measuring cups and spoons (theirs are in the metric system and I use American recipes). Kitchen timer. Good sunscreen. Rain jackets and pants for the monsoon season during language school.

Since I will be doing all cooking from scratch, my cooking will change dramatically, and it looks like my splurge will be to buy a Kitchen Aid or Bosch.  Something that can help me turn peanuts into peanut butter, chop all the vegetables, make my own bread, grind my own ground beef, and make smoothies to beat the heat. It weighs on my mind that this means I come with privilege well intact. It's such an odd thing to be poor here and filthy rich there.

What are your comfort items? What would you take if you were moving across the world? What would make it feel like home?

In the giveaway pile are tons of books, winter clothes, my work clothes, most of our dishes


Melissa said...

When I moved to China, books were definitely one of the things for me. 5 years later, I still think about some of the books I have in storage that are really hard to get to and I don't want to actually bring with me because then I'll have to take them back again (someday?). I'm really thankful to have a kindle now. It amazes and delights me that I can hold 100 books in one hand, even though normally I would prefer actually books.

One thing I did after arriving was print out photos and put them around the house in little frames.
I was glad I brought some small personal things, like a blanket my grandma made, a little painting by my aunt, a few little stuffed animals that have memories attached.
Food items like chocolate chips are always things someone can send me (not sure if that's true for you though?). If there are certain spices you love to cook with, or you want vanilla for baking, if you know you won't be able to get those things there, those are things I was really glad to have with me, because there is something about comfort food every now and then, even if most of the time I eat local food.
Anyway, those are some of my thoughts. =)

Anonymous said...

We had a lot of things in storage because we knew it would not be LONG term. It was so hard for us to spend money on things we had in boxes here, like cheap dish wear from Pound Stretcher or pots from the charity shop. My first 'splurge' there was a used immersion blender from a student who was graduating. :D

Before we moved there I put together photo albums of special people and places and posted them. They came about 2 months after we arrived and it was PERFECT! I, too, brought measuring cups and spoons and gortex gear. Good shoes for LOTS of walking.

During our first autumn there I realized how much I missed the colors because they didn't change much there. I asked a photographer friend to blow up and send me one of his best autumn shots and I taped it to our concrete wall. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, and a few paper plates to eat our first meals on until we bought dishes. And a box of mac and cheese, but of course we had to buy a pot, first. :D