Monday, November 24, 2008

Don't Forget Your Toothbrush

It's like waiting for Jesus to come.  You know it's going to happen.  You know it could be any moment.  But you don't know when.  You know you should always be ready, but there's some things you just can't have ready until it's actually time to go, things you don't want to pack away yet because you want to use them as long as possible.

We're moving.  I mean, the family I'm staying with is moving.  I don't know if I'm going with them, but I'll still be moving out of the house, too.  We all know it's going to happen, but nobody seems to know when.  When I first met the family in August they told me they'd be moving sometime in September.  I thought, "Yeah, right.  This is Africa, things don't happen that fast."  As September rolled-on, they said, "We're moving in October."  October came and went.  "We're moving in November."  There's six days left in November.  Now, it's just "We're moving soon."

When I first moved in, I was hoping "September" wouldn't actually come until after I leave.  It's going to be close.  I have 3 weeks left exactly.  During the weeks, I tend to forget about the move.  For some reason I assume we can only move on a weekend.  It's only on the weekends I concern myself with being ready.  How many other people can say the same?

But I don't want to pack, or change things.  So, I find myself looking for hints.  "There's no boxes around, so we can't be moving yet."  Last weekend, Auntie asked the maid to put 6 bags of laundry detergent in the laundry room from the pantry.  "She wouldn't do that if we really were moving soon."  I noticed the air conditioners were still in the house and remembered that Uncle had said as soon as everything else was ready at the new house, he would move the unessential air conditioners.  "The air conditioners are still here; the new house can't be ready yet."  Then Uncle went to South Africa.  "We can't move if he's not here."  I told myself. 

Another week came and went.  Then Uncle returned from South Africa.  I woke up Saturday morning to find the maid and guard in the garage washing every single suitcase in the house.  "If it's taking them all day just to clean the suitcases, we can't be moving yet."  Auntie spent the weekend emptying the pantry and packing everything that was inside it.  "Well, it'll take more than a few days to pack the whole house, so we can't be moving yet."

This morning, Auntie was taking a gentleman around the house, labeling the air conditioners.  "Room 2" said the piece of tape that was stuck to the top of the kitchen air conditioner.  "They're just labeling them.  And the kitchen is one of the non-essential units.  I'll worry when it's gone."  I check the cupboards to see how many of the dishes are still in them.  I listen to hear what people are planning for the weekends.  I watch what's being packed.  What signs do you watch for?

Really, most of my stuff is packed.  I live out of my suitcases anyway and only have a little bit of furniture in the room.  But there's always those few items you want to leave out until the last minute.  "Don't forget your toothbrush," Jackie-O's mom said to Leslie.  Why?  Because the toothbrush is the easiest thing to forget.  You don't want to pack it until the day you leave.  You need it in the morning.  But it's so normal, such a regular part of everyday life, that out of habit you put it back on the counter and leave the room.  Or maybe you're running late and grab your bags to go, thinking you're all ready, not realizing you haven't packed it yet.

Luckily, toothbrushes are easily replaced, and fairly cheaply.  The same is not so true for other things that might be forgotten because they're left to be taken with at the last moment.  Some are irreplaceable.  What's your toothbrush?

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