Winter has settled in here in Dushanbe. Thankfully, winter in Dushanbe is more like "winter," which means a mix of grey rainy days with nice sunny ones and occasionally some cold weather. I'm surprised at the mildness so far - on a recent afternoon walk we all shed our coats in the warm sun - but very grateful to not be in a place where winter is a more serious affair. The children, of course, are extremely disappointed that their snow boots and pants and gloves haven't made it out of the bins yet, but I keep reassuring them that when the car is registered (maybe next week?) we'll go and find some snow to play in.
But despite the relative mildness, winter is still winter - especially when it's raining - which means that we've spent a lot of time at home lately.
This hadn't been helped by inertia - who wants to go on a walk any way if it's already cold outside and there are at least twenty minutes of toilet trips, diaper changes, socks, shoes, shoes laces, coats, zippers, mittens, scarves, hats, strollers, bikes, helmets, keys, cell phones, and gates in between you and being stared at by every single Tajik that passes your traveling monkey circus?
It's been made even worse by the complete lack of need to ever leave my own gated ten-foot walled compound. I took the time and expense to ship 2,500 pounds of food and household products from America to Tajikistan, so I don't ever need to shop for toilet paper, soap, trash bags, shampoo, deodorant, laundry detergent, chocolate chips, brown sugar, olive oil, black beans, pinto beans, canned tomatoes of all varieties, or fifty other things currently sitting in jumbles of open boxes in my still-bare storage room.
My housekeeper very helpfully shops each week for fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, bread, beans and anything else I can mime or google translate accurately enough to get the general notion through. On Monday I'm going to receive my first delivery of fresh local milk so I don't even have to leave the house for milk, the main necessity driving my extramuros excursions. And for everything else, there's Amazon. Our house is big enough for everyone to have their own room or two (even if I have to lock them in to keep everyone separated) and we have our own playground in the front courtyard.
Last week I realized that Zarifa was the only non-family member I had seen since we moved into our new house. I hadn't left the compound for a week solid, and I had been wearing one pair of jeans for the same amount of time.
I knew when we moved here that I would be isolated; living in individual houses scattered around a foreign city tends to have that effect and homeschooling five children only makes it ten times worse. I discovered in college that I enjoy a large amount of solitude so seeing the same six faces every day all day doesn't bother me too much, if anything I would be happier having a little more time not seeing any faces, but I do wonder if the end of winter will see me completely crazy or so self-contained that I never want to leave ever.
It's probably good that I have Brandon - who does spend a lot of time around other presumably normal adults - to monitor me for signs of the crazy beginning to show. And it's also probably good that the children give me a reason to occasionally leave and at least go on a walk. Because even though I might like hiding from the world, it's probably not good for me. Probably.
And I also know that this happens at the beginning of every tour, when I've taken so much time and effort to settle in I don't really want to leave. In time the weather will warm and I will become intimate with every single crack and bump in my house and then I will want to leave and see someone other than the person I married and the children I birthed. The city won't seem so strange and the stares won't register any more and I'll forget that I ever lived in a country where I (mostly) just blended in.
But until then, you know where to find me. Just listen for the sound of my children fighting.