It is packout time! "Packout" is really just a fancy Foreign Service word for "the movers are coming." In the Foreign Service, you're not allowed to use normal words for normal things. You have to use words that make it sound like you are a 1990 pre-Windows DOS computer, where to play a fun computer game you had to type in fungames/iwanttoplaythem/ipconfigkingsquest/ and then push U to jump and C to duck and D to decapitate the lizard boss (this was before they had invented keyboard arrows, or cardinal directions, for that matter).
So in the Foreign Service, we don't "move." We PCS. We don't "go on a work trip." We TDY. We don't take "vacation." We take A/L. We don't have "kids." We have EFMs. We don't drive a "car." We drive a POV. We don't have "phones that work." We have "BlackBerrys."
This is the 15th move of our 16 years of marriage, the seventh international move. I remember our first real move (number seven overall), when we had the option of having movers do all the work.
"No way," I said. "They might break my stuff," which was a funny thing to say because I didn't actually have any stuff, except for a Lite Brite. So I rented a U-Haul and a trailer, and my dad helped me pack the Lite Brite, and I drove our Buick onto the trailer, and then I drove solo for a week from Portland to Washington DC. I guess it was kind of a novice decision, but I don't regret it.
There was the rave party downstairs at the Super 8 motel in Rawlins, Wyoming, which was fun to listen to all night while I tried to sleep (and through which I confirmed that they have house music in Wyoming, which question had baffled scientists for years prior). And there was Richmond, Indiana, an awkward little town that has the misfortune of straddling the Central/Eastern time zone boundary. So it's one of the few places where you can have this phone conversation:
Cal: Greetings Earl.
Earl: Hello, Cal. It is pleasant to speak with you.
Cal: Thank you. You likewise sound well. Are you amenable to bowling this evening?
Earl: Yes. That would be lovely. However, my wife Agatha is experiencing bingo night at the grange, and she took the Oldsmobile for transportation. This unfortunately means that I require a "lift," as they say.
Cal: I am able to provide that. I see that the time is now 7:30 pm. Is it agreeable if I retrieve you at 6:45 pm?
Earl: I am afraid that is impossible, as one cannot travel backwards in time, given physicists' inability to as of yet manipulate the space/time continuum.
Cal: I live seven blocks to the east of your residence, and am thus governed by Eastern Daylight Time. By relocating from my house to yours, I will enter Central Daylight Time, and thus, quite literally, I will time travel.
Earl: The dull pop you were likely able to aurally decipher moments ago was my frontal lobe exploding.
Now I am a little older, a little wiser, a little lazier. Our belongings have been boxed up while Shannon and I monitored the scene, kept the kids more or less pacified with promises of a better tomorrow, and tried to ensure that our shoes were not inadvertently packed away and shipped across the sea. We all have our shoes, so we must've nailed it.