A few days ago I scheduled our consumables pack-out. Last week Brandon picked up all seven of our brand-new diplomatic passports, ready for new visas. I've been comparing the two airport hotels at the Frankfurt airport (which is closer? which has better breakfast?). The weather has turned cooler this week, and I think that summer is really over. All of those things combined means that it's all starting to get real.
Of course it's not so real that we have our suitcases (I don't really want to think how many that will be) lined up at the door, waiting for our big blue friend, Super Shuttle, to come and take us to (according to the children) the Happiest Place on Earth, Dulles Airport.
It's not even so real that men have shown up with their enormous tri-wall cardboard boxes to stuff in everything that has pathetically attempted to make Oakwood home, instead just cluttering up the apartment for nine months.
But, when you schedule your first event, that fig tree is starting to show its leaves and it's time to start seriously considering the end.
All summer we've played and swum and camped and blissfully pretended that life in America - where Brandon is home for dinner every night and library books are plentiful and parks are almost around every corner - would be our reality for the next forever. But every time I walked through the woods to our own personal park as the wind brushed the trees before dipping to swirl our hair, memory whispered that I didn't belong here, I'd better hang on tightly to this perfect afternoon, because come November it would all be gone in a hazy memory of a country where rain made trees spring out of the ground and money kept them lovely.
Each time I picked up my weekly ten pounds of library books about Mary Queen of Scots and cells and astronauts and Powhatan and everything you could want all delivered to your local library my revelry in all of this knowledge free for the asking would sour with the voice in the back of my head wondering what I would do when the piles of books were suddenly gone.
I think that sometimes I will grow thin and stretched out with all of the change, worn to the point of breaking with holding on too tight to things that will all be gone - friends, houses, time, schedules, mountains, weather, pomegranates, mangoes, cucumbers, and melons.
I love this life. I love knowing that any situation I can't stand will magically change if I just wait long enough. I love swapping my old problems for new ones. I love finding my way around a new country, new house, new people, new memories. I love looking forward to something exciting to shake up the routine of normal life, give us a break from everyday.
I hate this life. I hate making a schedule that works perfectly, knowing in nine weeks it will be wrecked to pieces with a new job, a new country, a new life. I hate finding things, finding people that I love and then leaving them. I hate knowing that all things come to an end, and like a turtle I will carry my life around me on my back (perhaps with the help of a few plywood packing crates), never finding a place that is forever my own that I can paint and change fixtures and find the perfect place for every single thing that never ever has to be weighed again. I hate loving and not wanting to love because it will all be gone, over and over and over again.
Every time my belly gets big enough to balance my pizza plate on, I start worrying. Will I really be able to handle yet another child? Is it better to just be eternally pregnant, never getting comfortable, always awkward and slow, weary, weary weary, or to have a newborn baby with the endless cries that nothing will make better and maddening unpredictability and even more weariness?
God knows what he is doing, however; by the end of each nine months I don't care how much that baby will cry and how many times I have to get up, I just want to get this thing out and move the heck on.
And so it will be by November. I will have counted and recounted how many suitcases it will take (really?? ten???) and stressed about weight and worried that I didn't put enough cans of tomatoes in my consumables and stressed that Frankfurt will be too cold to tourist and said goodbye too many times and felt the walls grow closer by the day until I will be ready to shed this life like a snake grown too large for its skin. I won't care if I never see Brandon again for dinner or our house is miserably cold or we'll never eat bacon again, just get us the heck out of here.
And then we will be gone. And life will have moved on. And Virginia will turn into a memory.
But for now, there is too much time yet to go. So instead, I worry.