It's hard to fit eight years into eleven suitcases.
Hard for adults; potentially traumatic for kids.
Today we started the purging process in earnest. Round one. Who knows how many more rounds until we can squeeze all our precious dongxi (stuff) into our allotted luggage allowance.
My children sat in a semi circle on the floor around my husband. He had a box sitting next to him. Behind the children was a mountain of stuffed animals.
"Okay kids," Aaron said, "it's time for you to choose which animals you're going to take to America and which ones you're going to leave."
Anna picked out her biggest bear and stuffed it into the box. It took up about half the space.
Gabe chose his giraffe "Alex" and his crab "Jack."
Olivia said she wanted to keep all her Beanie Babies. She counted them out. I think there were about seven. One of them was a panda. We put them in the box. She reached in the pile and pulled out a huge panda.
"There's not enough room for that one, honey," Aaron said.
"But the baby panda needs its mommy!" Then she started to cry.
From outside in the hallway where I was standing listening, I almost lost it too. I've been incredibly emotional lately. I keep wondering if I'm pregnant, but then I think, "No, we're just moving."
The kids watched Annie this afternoon. I wept at the first song:
"Betcha they're good, why shouldn't they be?
Their one mistake was givin' up me...."
When Annie tells Daddy Warbucks he can't adopt her because she wants to find her birth parents, I had tears running down my face. And when Daddy Warbucks watches her getting in the car with her mom and dad and sings:
"Maybe I'll forget how much she meant to me,
And how she was almost my baby ..."
I completely lost it. Tears. Snot. Hiccups.
I hauled about ten big bags of stuff out of our house today and down to our first floor company apartment that acts as a community room. It was our bi-annual exchange, something like a garage sale on steroids, only there's no money involved. Everybody on our team brings their unwanted, gently-used stuff, deposits it in the community room, and then takes whatever they want from the pile. After the foreign staff (whose stuff it is) go through it, our school's national staff gets a turn, and then we open it up to all our household helpers. It's a wonderful system. Our stuff finds happy new homes, and we can purge our small apartments with clear consciences.
So, tonight I'm tired. Emotionally. Physically. Hauling all that stuff down six flights of stairs is a real workout. I'm just glad I don't have to haul it back up again. It's gone. Our apartment is a little barer tonight. But that's good. Necessary.
Our kids went to bed without crying for their lost stuffed animals; they're cuddling close the ones they chose to keep.
And if anyone's wondering, we let Olivia keep both Mommy and Baby Panda. Of course we did.