Archive for May, 2010

last sleepless night… in the house

Monday, May 17th, 2010

This is our last night sleeping in our house here in France. It feels weird. For months I’ve been imagining this moment. It’s both anti-climatic and wildly stressful.

I’ve gone through each room in the house at least once, trolling for trash. Tossing scraps of paper that I have no idea why they were kept. Pitching socks without mates. Getting rid of expired medicine I hauled over from the US then never really needed and expired foods that had been dumped on, er, given to us by those who left before us. I vowed not to be that person showing up at someone’s house with a bag full of unopened boxes of crepe mix and canned tomatoes. Yet here I am unable to throw that stuff away. (I found someone who claims to be a willing recipient.) I admit: you’d be hard pressed to look in any of our rooms and say “hey, this was clearly cleaned out by someone trying to get ready to move a really long distance.” The bookshelf next to me still sports piles of books and cd’s spilling over the edges of the shelves. Yes, it makes me love my Kindle all that much more. And, yes, I even got rid of books. Piles and piles of books. I probably could have gotten rid of even more. There are packets of travel plans put together for trips already taken that I just can’t seem to part with. Artwork of Kaitlyn’s that I can’t get rid of, stuffed into a paper sorter on my desk. I’m yet to figure out just which cables need to get crammed into my bulging carry on bag. And I know I’m running out of time. We check into the temporary housing tomorrow. A day ahead of the movers, so I can wash sheets and towels rather than pack them dirty. Even though I’m likely to wash them again on the other side of the ocean so they don’t smell like the cardboard box they’ll spend the next 35-50 days in.

I’m so worried that in all of my sorting and tossing and cramming, I’ll somehow forget to pack something in the luggage that we really need. Travel itineraries and passports are already in the carry-on bag. I suppose this fear stems from going to buy a house without a checkbook… in a city without a branch of my bank. (I’ve packed two checkbooks this time.) I have two active to-do lists. Yet I lie in bed at night unable to sleep… more and more things that need done whirring in my head. Things I don’t even remember when I wake up in the morning. Which makes it even more frustrating. Maybe it was important!

I don’t think Bill is sleeping very well, either. He’s done a lot of the heavy lifting for the organizing. He’s moved everything that doesn’t get packed into the basement. Oh, wait, except the vacuum sitting here. (Note to self: add to to-do list carrying vacuum downstairs for Bill.) He cleaned out the garage and confirmed that there is, indeed, a floor in it. He sold most of our stuff and schleped it all to the office to pass out to the buyers. I’m assuming he also collected the money but at this point just getting rid of the stuff is valuable enough to me. He is even leaving work early tomorrow to come home (after Kaitlyn’s back to school from lunch) to take apart the computers and disconnect the tv. He waited till the very last minute because he didn’t want to cause distress among the tv-addicted in the household. (I’m not sure if that addicted one is Kaitlyn or if it’s me.)

Kaitlyn hasn’t fallen asleep before about 10pm in weeks. Last week I blamed the jet lag. But now I think she’s got just as much spinning in her head as I do in mine. Maybe she isn’t lying there thinking of all the things she’s yet to get done. I worry that instead she’s lying there thinking of all the things she’s nervous about.

Today when I picked her up from school she had an invitation to a birthday party in her backpack. She was so thrilled. She wanted to know if she could go. I opened the invitation, figuring the party would be just a few days away. No one here hands out invitations more than a week in advance, and even that much notice is rare. I was worried I wouldn’t have time to get a gift. Instead, I was stuck delivering the news that the party will take place in three weeks. After we’ve left. Kaitlyn didn’t just cry. She sobbed. She clung to me and just sobbed. It broke my heart. It was all I could do not to cry right there along with her on the sidewalk outside school. But I know that one of us is supposed to be the support. And I’m really fairly certain that it’s me. It took a long time to get her settled down enough to even get her into the back seat of the car. Because I didn’t want to just drive home with her crying her eyes out in the back of the car. The first time I got her settled down, she asked if a friend could spend the night tomorrow night. My answer was not what she wanted to hear — no… after tonight we’re living at a hotel. Once she stopped crying enough to go home, she asked about the hotel. Where is it? (downtown) How far is it? (about 30 minutes) Will she still go to school? (yes) Which school? (the same one she’s always gone to)

Once we got home, she started crying again. I asked her if all these tears were about the party. No. She’s scared that she won’t make any friends in America. This is a child who talks to everyone under 5 feet tall everywhere she goes. Restaurants, the hotel, playgrounds, parks, stores. She may hide behind me when she’s introduced to an adult, but among other kids she’s a model of self-confidence and friendliness. I told her I have to make new friends, too. And I don’t get to go to work or school to meet people and make those friends. That might be about the time I gave in and joined her in the tears.