It is now June. Our departure date for Tajikistan is May 2018, so that means we now have less than one year left in Dushanbe. For most people at hardship posts, one year left means that you have halfway finished your tour. But when your tour is three and a half years long, one year left means that it's practically time to start packing the boxes.
I'm a planner at heart - the kind of person that loves to research hotel options for a trip that might happen and secretly looks up flight schedules while they're supposed to be doing useful things like reading their children bedtime stories. This means that, with only a year left until we pack up every single thing on the earth that we own (except for that crate in Haagerstown, Maryland full of things that I no longer remember) and move it aaaaaaall the way to Tashkent, a 260-mile drive away, it's time to start planning.
Last week I rearranged one of our storage rooms. This happens periodically as we get more consumables (we got a supplementary shipment last summer and a layette shipment last month) and I have to rearrange everything to store it neatly. While I was rearranging, I weighed my canning jars. We packed out of Baku with 1,000 pounds left in our weight allowance (7,200 pounds, which sounds like a lot until you weigh everything you own and then suddenly it's peanuts), and the Amazon boxes haven't stopped coming for the past two and a half years. Our plan this time around is to try and weigh all our posessions and then enter it into a spreadsheet so that we can know the exact weight of everything we own on this earth except the unknown items in Maryland (okay, I could find the manifest and find that out too, but I'm too lazy). I'll let you know how that goes.
After I weighed a few representative jars and counted the rest, I took stock of my jam supplies. I still have mango jam from Cairo, a few jars of blackberry jam, three or four of mulberry, and a lot of jars of persimmon jam. I added 'no more jam making' to my mental list of things to remember. Then I looked over the rest of my food and wondered how we were going to eat it all in the next eleven months.
After that, I added sundried tomatoes and cranberry sauce to my consumables list. Because even though we have to get rid of all the food we own before we leave, we will be buying two years' worth of consumables during the one-month home leave we will have next spring. Every time I open up something from our consumables store, like shampoo or wheat or toilet paper or pad thai sauce, I write the date on a list (of which there are several), with a note of the size. I've never judged our consumption rate very well in the past, which has led to buying way too much food for our first post (who needs 100 pounds of popcorn?!?) and too little for this last post (I'm not sure how I feel about using six gallons of canola oil in nine months). So this time I'm determined to get it just right. I'll let you know how that goes, too.
Following the reorganization of our storage room, I cleaned up the kitchen a little. Over the years and various moves and temporary stays, I've collected a lot of different storage containers. Some are the cheap throwaway kind that I've never gotten to throwing away, some my sister gave me over a decade ago before I got married, and some have just drifted in on the wind like those cheap plastic toys that accumulate in the corners of your toy bins. I have daydreams of replacing them, but it's not happening until we move. Because I can ditch the storage containers here and mail the new one to our next post. Save weight and get them there faster. Brilliant!
When I was done with the kitchen I headed out to the yard. When we moved in our yard consisted of 1. two bare dirt areas by the windows and 2. a dirt patch with some struggling grass. Now we have two fruit trees that are almost fifteen feet tall, pots with mint, sage, chives, thyme, lemon balm, rosemary, four o'clocks, snapdragons, portulaca, and vincas. The dirt patches have become a thriving wildflower bed and a very happy snapdragon bed. I bought most of the pots in Baku, making my friend's poor driver scour half the city to get the things, and the current internal debate is whether to leave them and buy new ones (money!) or dump all of the plants and dirt out and pack them again (weight!). I'm still not sure about that one. Also, my grass could probably do with some reseeding, but heck, we're leaving next year so why bother?
By then it was lunch time, so I went to our third floor and called the children down. All of the children's toys live up there and every time I look at their extensive collection, I imagine the Tajik children who will love playing with the toys that will get abandoned as we leave. My fingers itch to pull out the garbage bags now and start the ruthless purging that brings the sweetest feelings of moral purity, but I leave them for now. After all, we do have almost a year left.
One day I won't walk through my house seeing things that need to be gotten rid of, or put off purchases until the next move because of weight, or simply give up on improving my house, or have to track my usage rate of brown sugar. I'll just move in somewhere, unpack, and buy what I need from Target when I run out. I'm not sure what that will be like, but I'm looking forward to finding out.