On Moving On


A couple of evenings ago we visited friends who live in the compound where we stayed for a month when we first arrived in Jeddah. It’s a lovely cluster of villas—very green, quiet, and bright with the song of birds exulting in their discovery of this oasis in a brown-baked, desiccated, tumbling-down city. Like a true Arab garden, it’s an escape from the reality beyond its walls, with a central area that feels more like a luxury resort than the community pool.

Our temporary home there was just as lovely as you’d expect. But despite that, and although I really like our friends at that compound, I can’t say that I miss living there.

There was, for instance, the smell of cat urine in one of the kitchen cabinets. I was not sad at all to move away from that. And there were the hobbit-size washer and dryer whose buttons and knobs were marked with obscure hieroglyphics. And there was the roof-mounted water tank that made scalding-hot showers even when you had turned on only the cold water.

These sorts of challenges make moving seem very appealing. In our current house, it’s the ants that will blunt the sorrow of moving. I will not miss examining my clothes every time I pull them from the drawer, knowing that I’ve overlooked the one who’s going to bite me soon after I’ve dressed. In a way, I guess I can be thankful for how the challenges emotionally prepare me to move on.

Sometimes when I’m balancing my baby on my hip so that I can tickle every last giggle out of her, I’m struck with the thought that she is likely my last baby. But then there are the not-so-good things about having a baby. For instance, the way that any pencil she finds is quickly put to use on the nearest flat surface—that annoyance will make it easier to watch my baby grow up. And the way she refuses to sleep anywhere but in her own bed, so that long airplane rides are a nightmare? Yeah, that too.

It all makes me wonder whether God is rather pleased with Himself for having thought up the ailments of old age. Or the angst of the teenage years. Or the complete exhaustion that you feel at the end of your mission or the end of your university experience. Or the way you feel tired even at the end of the most wonderful days. It all makes moving on so much easier.