André is fast asleep, the house is quiet save for the occasional clang of a tool as the workmen continue the housebuilding upstairs. I’m sipping on tea (sweet vanilla tea grown here in Mauritius) and I’ve decided to tackle a new blog post. It’s daunting. I haven’t written a post in weeks and there’s so much to recount and reflect upon. Where to start?
Anyone who has endured a move knows how much work goes into it (“endured” because they are rarely pleasant beyond the initial excitement and the sweet relief once it’s all over). We spent weeks in preparation—putting together documents (for residency permits), selling cars and furniture (not to mention the house itself!), sorting items for donation, packing boxes, cancelling services and contracts, tying up loose ends at work, searching for a new home for our pet…Yes, we had to say goodbye to our beloved dog, Milou, and that was heartbreaking, but she has a wonderful new family, who sends us video snippets of her new life, and we couldn’t be happier with how that turned out. And, of course, there were friends to say goodbye to also, or more like “goodbye for now” as I’m hopeful we will see many of them again in future.
My greatest concern has been for André—how well he would cope with the move (overall) and the long journey to our new home in Mauritius (it took us 12 days and 4 plane rides as we opted to break up the long flights and spend some time with friends and family in different parts of the world along the way). I have occasional pangs of guilt when I think about how we’ve uprooted him from the only home he has ever known. I feel especially sad when I think about the friends that he’ll miss (that we’ll miss) and his caregiver at daycare who has loved him and supported him and nurtured him for the past year. Still he asks, almost pleadingly sometimes, if we are “going to Nadia’s house?” or if we are “going home now?”. And I know it’s early days, transitioning takes time, and that children are resilient little beings. But, still… I apologize to him. I say, “I’m sorry, my love, that I have dragged you away from familiarity, away from all you know and love, towards the unknown”. But I know, in time, he will be very happy here in Mauritius, surrounded by a caring family who love him dearly (his grandparents, aunts, and uncles). And he will make new friends, and become familiar with new places and new things. In time. Time. Time.
I underestimated how much time I would need to pack. The problem with having a large home (and ample storage space!) is that stuff accumulates but remains hidden, tucked away in the recesses of drawers, cupboards, and closets. I hadn’t realized quite how much stuff we had accumulated in our 5 short years in the U.S., and just how mammoth a task it would be to sort, pack, sell, donate or otherwise dispose of it all. We did manage to get through it, thanks to some help from friends (you know who you are! From the bottom of my heart – thank you), but not without a mad rush and considerable panic towards the end. Oli and I had decided to ship a crate-load of boxes (about 25 in total) to Mauritius and so, a few weeks before the move, I started wrapping and packing, making careful note of each item. It’s no surprise that the bulk of our packed items are books (mine) and electronics (Oli’s). I also packed many of André’s favorite toys so that he would have some familiar objects in the new house.
I wonder what André made of his slowly-disappearing bedroom. I removed items gradually—a book here, a toy there—until, on our final night, nothing remained in his room save his crib. He certainly noticed the changes, and sometimes he would point them out. “Mirror not there?”, he asked me one day, arms outstretched in a “where is it?”-type gesture. “That’s right, my love, it’s gone! Mama had to give it away because we are moving to Mauritius”, was my standard response. “Moving to Mauritius”, he would echo. I remember the day I packed away his precious Camel. A large, stuffed toy that we purchased from IKEA, Camel quickly became one of André’s favorite sleep companions. During our usual bedtime ritual of saying goodnight to each of his stuffed animals in his crib (“goodnight Peter Rabbit, goodnight Giraffe…”) Andre looked up at me with his big brown eyes and asked, “Camel?”. I wanted to weep, but instead I simply said “Camel is on his way to Mauritius to see Mémé and Papi, and you will see him again soon, I promise”.
We are expecting our crate to arrive in late July, so we cross all our fingers and toes and hope it makes it safe and sound to its final destination. In the meantime, we are busy finishing the house, and the process of accumulation begins again. But more on that in a future post!