a question we often asked ourselves when trying to plan our big move back to the states was, "what are we going to do with all our stuff?"
when we moved to the netherlands in 2006, we were fortunate to be able to put most of our things in storage, and to leave our car at bob and rae's. we kept our american bank account open, and we asked adam's folks to forward our mail to us. easy.
but when we moved back from europe, we weren't sure how to handle it. i mean, we can't really put our things in storage -- we're almost certainly never moving back there, so why keep our stuff there? and what do we do about our mail? and can we keep our bank account? how do we do this?
well, we knew we didn't want to bring all of our ikea furniture with us -- what would be the point of shipping cheap stuff? and with all the garage sales taking place right when we move back, we might be able to get something nice for way cheaper than the cost of shipping things back anyway. so a few weeks before we moved, we sent out a big ol' email letting everyone we knew that we were selling our crap, and that if they wanted to come to our going away party they were going to have to bring an empty box, and leave with it full of our stuff.
and they really took us seriously! by the time the party was over, we had sold ALL of our furniture, our fridge, our washing machine, and all of our kitchen stuff -- dishes, spoons, trays, everything! at the end of the day, the only things left in our house were the boxes we were shipping, our bed, gracie's bed, and some random things in drawers. most things were able to be carried down the steps, but not the couch -- our stairs are so narrow and windy that in order to get our couch down (and the same way we got it up in the first place), we had to remove part of our back fence, walk onto the neighbor's property, and lower the couch down over the side of the wall. good thing we had a lot of tall dutch men to help us, because we were able to do it without a rope this time -- those long arms and legs must be an evolutionary advantage out there where many places require furniture to be lifted in and out through windows when moving :-)
after the party (and sale!) we went out to dinner and ice cream with a couple of our neighbors, and came home to a sadly empty house. we finished our packing (about 40 boxes in all) and sat out on our bedroom balcony, gazing one last time at the spires of the church and city hall, sitting on towels, and reflecting on the last three years. it was very bittersweet.
the next day, we woke up very early in order to be ready for the moving companies that were coming. one moving company was going to take our boxes and bed, and ship them back to the usa. (in fact, i think they're somewhere on the ocean as i type this.) the other moving company was coming to take anything that we weren't shipping -- they took all the leftover toys, books, clothes, and even the wads of tinfoil stuck in drawers. they took it all!
gracie and i stayed out of the chaos -- she actually had her last consultatieburo appointment that day, so we took the bus, went to the pediatrician, and came home to a completely empty house. adam stuck around to supervise the movers, which i was glad for because watching our memories disappear in boxes and trucks would have been too painful for me to watch.
we had lunch across the street from our house, checked into a hotel, and went back for a well-needed nap.
later that evening, i met up with some friends in order to clean up the house. they were soooo generous with their time! adam and gracie picked up some pizzas and aimee and josine brought some beer, and all of us sat around on the bare floor having some grub before we got to work. then we broke out the tunes and brooms and got busy!
federica and gracie did the floors.
paul scrubbed my toilet WITHOUT A TOILET BRUSH! (the movers took it! what a good friend he is!)
aimee vacuumed. (and i think she scrubbed a toilet without a brush too! don't i have the greatest friends ever?!)
marije cleaned my bathroom
josine did the bedrooms
and i had the saddest job of all: wiping gracie's sticky fingerprints off of the windows. it was SOOOO SAD! it was like wiping away our memory from our house. our house, with SO MANY good memories there... every corner of that house held a memory for us: i looked at the pillar in the kitchen, and remembered all the family dinners that ended with adam jumping behind it and back out again, playing a really rowdy game of peekaboo with a giggling gracie. or the front step, where gracie would sit to excitedly put on her shoes before going to the park or the market or to church. the bathtub, when adam and i sat on the edge, reading the positive results from a pregnancy test, wondering what the future would hold, simultaneously terrified and thrilled. gracie's yellow room, which adam painted himself in preparation for our baby, where we rocked gracie to sleep during countless sleepless nights, where the sun came pouring in the windows during those first two weeks of her life. the windows in the living room, where gracie would stand for hours, slapping on the glass, waving to passers-by, squealing with delight whenever the streetsweeper or the garbage truck would drive past. the radiator, right next to the window, where she first learned to pull herself up in order to look out of said windows. the stairs, where she learned to climb them at only 9 months old, and where she would say "baps!" (that means "step") whenever she was about to begin her ascent. our bedroom, where gracie took her first breath, when we first held her in our arms, with my mom, the midwives, and adam there to support me as i pushed our child into the world. so. many. GOOD. memories.
and that was the hardest thing, really: saying goodbye to our house. because i know we'll see hengelo again. and i'm certain i will see my friends again too. but we will never see the inside of our house, ever ever ever again. our house with the market outside. our house that never needed a clock because the church bells kept time for us. our house above the little jewelry store, in our little dutch village, during our three enchanted years abroad. i miss it terribly. i cry when i think about our house, and how we will never be able to share another laugh or another family meal within its drafty, cozy walls. oh.
i know we are on the right path, going to texas to begin a new chapter in our lives. i know this is the right decision, and i have faith that we will succeed in our new hometown. i know we will make friends and that we will find a lovely little home to create new memories in. but still, i'm sad to leave hengelo. i'm homesick already...