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  • Quiara

Packing up a Life

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

The night that Mom and Adriana and I went to the fellowship hall and unwrapped my shower gifts, I video called Zèzè when we were done. And I happily showed him everything and he looked very interested and said, "woooww," and "ahh," and "hhhhmm." And at the end, "You're a special girl. They must really love you." And, "That is really alot of stuff. You will need your own plane to bring it to Haiti!"

All of the gifts made their way to the windowseat upstairs, and I sorted them into piles of necessary, kind of necessary, and optional. And after Mom and I had to move boxes of Dream Whip to climb out of the window to clean gutters, and after looking at The Pile and mentally packing it twice a day while trying to do yoga for several days, I decided this project needed to be tackled.

Friday night I was exhausted from doing nothing all week and nauseated at the thought of packing or because I had eaten two pieces of chocolate cake that day. So I did the obvious thing and melted down in the kitchen and told my mom that I wanted a Uhaul like other girls get for their stuff and why couldn't one little thing be easy for me. What I really wanted was for HIM to drive on the yard like what happens to the girl down the road, and then to build a perfect little campfire like they did last night... Or for him to at least be in the next state where we could spend the weekend with together like another one of my friends is doing. And my mom knew it, so thankfully I didn't get even one strange look for blubbering about a Uhaul. We went to the huge donated suitcase pile... And pulled out a big brown leather, vintage-looking suitcase that we thought could almost double as "decorative storage" later. (I'm completely obsessed with things that have double uses right now.) And I sat with my notebook and hyperventilated and second guessed how I had sorted everything and said, "but do I really NEED that" and "that's gonna be too heavy" while Mom doggedly wrapped things in dish towels and shrink wrap and viola! The suitcase was full and the "completely necessary" pile was almost gone. But it weighed 66 pounds. "Oh that's only 16 over. I'll take the heaviest stuff out!" said Mom. So she started unzipping it, and the zipper broke. We went to bed.

The next day we had to go to the office to get my truck with two more donated suitcases (thank you, genorous Highland ladies, I think we ended up with more than 10 suitcases 😊) and lo and behold, Mi Rancho had an umbrella out with tables under it and people SITTING EATING TACOS. Just sitting there. Six feet apart I'm sure. But not getting hauled off by police or ambulance. So because my mom had been muttering about having salad at Double Ds for a few weeks we went and... Eureka! Little tables in front each with their very own umbrella. The masked and gloved minions prepared our shrimp salad and I ate two sourdough buns and tried to make friends with the labradoodle at the next table. Unfortunately, he was all for social distancing and growled. And then we went to Dollar Tree and I bought a basting brush and tongs. (Mental criteria for buying something: Tiny? Check. Lightweight? Check. Unbreakable? Check. Cheap? Check.) And as it was at least 3 o'clock and I really wanted to procrastinate some more, we went to Ollie's Discount Store with the creative slogan: Good Stuff Cheap!

And at the back of the store... Was a rug. A braided olive green and mustard yellow rug for ten dollars and so I weighed it up. As in lifted the rug and tried to figure out how much it weighed. And immediately wanted to scream that I was so tired of having to "weigh everything up" and so tired of seeing cute dishes and tapping then to see if they're ceramic and picturing them in 500 pieces on my tile floor after carefully packing and lugging them to Haiti. But I didn't scream only reminded myself that I bought a crochet hook and pinned a tutorial of how to make rugs and that Haiti has fabric and used T shirts. And wouldn't that be a fun, pioneer like thing to learn.

We got home and Mom patiently started packing and I did only a few useful things such as trying out my Grandma's handmixer to make sure it would beat an egg white and stuffing taco seasoning packets into a bowl. Otherwise I basically made dark, gloomy comments and generally hyperventilated. And ended up in tears again... I said, "Mom I don't know how to do this." And she said, "No one knows how to be a wife before they start." And I said, "This is different. Everyone is watching me and talking about me." She said, "They talked about me too because I married someone from KANSAS who was GOING TO COLLEGE." And then she kept packing, and all the sudden it was all in. The 21 packets of taco seasoning and 16 packets of dream whip and the big heavy silver bowl. The fifth and last suitcase weighed 47.5 pounds. So you know what I did? I went back to Ollie's and bought the rug! It was the biggest and heaviest rug there, but it is olive green with a mustard yellow stripe in the middle and in case you didn't know my house is painted butter yellow and I have a macrame plant hanger and a big black vinyl wall quote for my living room. So does that sound perfect or what? I dug through the rags until I found a six pack that could be used for washrags OR dish rags, found a big roll of clothesline that will be perfect macrame cord, and paid for it... $19... With a gift card I got in the mail the other day.

The struggle is real. Because honestly I feel some sort of self-worth in the amount of things I pack up and what I leave behind. I don't want to be the girl that tries to haul North America with me to Haiti. I want to be the girl who has it figured out. Who can live out Proverbs 31 perfectly in a country I didn't grow up in and who will astound her husband with great cooking skills and being frugal and smiley and happy and never lonesome. And the truth is my suitcases have four metal cookie cutters and a little white pitcher that was my Grandma's and maybe it has two uses if you count pancake syrup and boganvillas. And I have snow white carefully embroidered tea towels galore just because I love that people made them for me and they seem like home. And a huge metal breakfast tray and almost a whole suitcase full of stuff to set a pretty wedding table. And that's not all... There are two rocks from a friend that were on my desk at school and a tiny set of salt and pepper shakers in the shape of a black couple that my dad bought in New Orleans. I am a girl that wants hammocks and string lights on my front porch. And yes, I love moto rides and wearing sandals all the time. I love sitting in a white plastic lawn chair or a concrete step and talking or chilling for a while, and some of my most inspired moments have been in a dark church with pigeons in the rafters listening to someone sing a solo. I love a pate for breakfast and a Malta I'm the Caribbean twilight. But I'm a white girl too.

And what's amazing is the other day I was rambling to Zèzè about something and I apologized and said, "Sorry that's girl stuff." And he said, "Ya it is, but that is what makes girls sweet and awesome." So how's that for acceptance? In my defense, I have had a lot of time to overthink all of this. I have spent a year and a half "weighing up" everything I buy and thinking of packing it up, and wondering if I should really eat out again... All that. And maybe it's been good for me, but maybe it's also time to admit that I really am just a white girl. Clueless about how to be a wife, especially in another country, but with a heart full of love. And as for Proverbs 31, I was told the other day that lazy girls are sometimes better because they spend time with you. Face palm!

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