It’s been 18 years since our last move. Prior to that, we moved 5 times in 9 years, an average of every 21 months or so. Aside from the obvious difference of the many years spent in our last home, and the distance around the globe, which is literally halfway-around-the-world, this move has been unlike any of the others. We’ve never lived in a big city before; taken public transportation everywhere; lived on the Equator. The culture and languages here are unlike any place we’ve lived in the US. Our living space is MUCH smaller. The obvious differences go on and on.
What I’ve been focusing on of late, though, are the less-than-obvious things. The subtle, unexpected things.
One of the things I’ve noticed, particularly since we’ve recently moved into our permanent home here, is the selection of things we decided to bring. We moved from a 4-bedroom home in the suburbs with a full finished basement and two-car garage to a place less than half the size. Most of our “stuff’ will be living in long-term storage for a couple of years. As we were getting ready back in May, we had to take some educated guesses about how much we’d be able to fit into our, yet unknown, Singapore apartment. We’d be putting our “necessary” stuff into a 40-foot shipping container, and in the 7-8 weeks it would take to make it across the US and the Pacific Ocean, we would be looking for a place to live.
The “editing” of our stuff in the US included answering such questions as: Do we NEED the winter clothes? The Christmas decorations? The formal china? Yes, Yes, No. (Unfortunately, we didn’t bring any of our Christmas stuff. I’m already regretting that I forgot to pack the Christmas stockings.)
Fast forward to August. We’re adjusting to things, slowly. Our shipping container has been emptied and our boxes are unpacked. The things from the 40-foot-container have found closets, bookshelves, cabinets, and bins. In the process, I’ve had to physically touch each and every one. It’s been an exercise in reviewing what’s important. There is grace in this knowledge. It’s an acute awareness of the goodness in life, an awareness that sometimes gets lost, and that is so easy to take for granted.
Which leads me to a less-than-obvious adjustment I wasn’t prepared for: the twelve-hour time difference. It seems unmistakable, and yet the reality that, during my daytime, all of my people in the US are sleeping (and vice versa), has been one of the most difficult things. What I wasn’t ready for is how much I miss the spontaneous calls, quick texts or facebook connections in real time. Like sharing a joke (via text) with my kids and knowing we’re both laughing at the same time. Or being able to call my mom or my brothers without thinking too hard about how they’re just waking up and I’ve just finished dinner. Or having a friend in need in the US and not being able to respond in a timely way.
Today, I give thanks for the connections in my life. For connections to good memories and little trinkets that bring back special times. For tenuous connections that can be strengthened with a quick text message received a few hours from now. And for the grace that comes when I contemplate these gifts.
I invite you to do the same.
“It is grace that forms the void inside of us, and it is grace that alone can fill the void.”
– Simone Weil