What if we ever needed…3/4 of an Inch

Hell froze over today. Well, since it’s so bloody hot and humid I sort of wish it actually did, but our stuff ARRIVED at 1pm today. It actually came with a phone call and three guys who could not have been nicer. I paid for their lunch afterwards. I’m not a person who has ever held a grudge. Don’t have time for it so all that nonsense was in my rear view mirror 30 seconds after the first dolly load crossed our door step.

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They found parking and unloaded in record time. As planned, we had them bring all the boxes and bikes up to our apartment and we put the sofa in our parking space in the garage. We needed to measure it before I schedule the crane service. I was on cloud nine watching them go back and forth. Emilie stayed down by the truck to make sure no one made off with any boxes while the guys were filling the lobby.

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Seeing our things again was like reconnecting with old friends. And unpacking was so much fun!ย  All my kitchen stuff that was of such interest to US Customs and Border control made it with only one glass pot lid that was shattered.ย  All my Le Creuset – check. More of my Crate and Barrel dishes – yup. All our flatware and my box of odds and ends kitchen stuff. My beloved Vitamix made it. Jeff checked the amperage (I don’t even pretend to understand it) and it works on the electricity here. We just have to take it to a local place to get the plug/cord swapped out.

My pans are here too! And our golf clubs and bikes. Jeff’s computer stuff and his keyboard that he’s been waiting for. All the tools for his first love – the motorcycle. We spent the day unpacking boxes and washing things. Our bedding from home – sheets and towels that we could have bought locally but we loved them too much to leave behind. Then there were the more sentimental things. The things that, when you surround yourself with them, make you feel like you’re truly home.

Our refrigerator magnet collection from trips we took as a family. Jeff always hated how junky it made it look in an open plan kitchen. I loved the reminder of all the things we did together. Tonight, I put them all on the fridge and he came home and smiled. Emilie and I had fun reminiscing about each one and telling funny stories about where they were purchased and some crazy thing that happened.

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The pictures came. Our wedding photo and some of the art that we had on the walls. Emilie unpacked the boxes in her room and it’s just about like it was in the US – only 5 times smaller. Her books, photos and all the small things that mean so much to her.

I unpacked the vacuum packed bags of our clothes and it seems we brought more than I remembered. I appears my ‘What if we ever…?’ philosophy might have gone a little too far. OK, if we ever go to Iceland again I have my Canada Goose parka and Jeff’s Mountain Hardwear parka. But living here I don’t think there will be a day that we’ll need either of those.

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My most egregious and embarrassing miscalculation was my discovery that I had 5 full boxes of shoes that were just for me. Luckily, Jeff had run an errand when I pulled them out of the pile in the dining room. Yeah, I knew I had a problem anyway but today it was in my face and before Jeff got home I needed to find somewhere for 5 boxes of shoes in El Compartimiento. But where to put them? The only place I had to spare was in the kitchen Gabinete and I knew the minute he got hungry I’d be ratted out. Emilie just shook her head but she wasn’t one to talk. She had 2 boxes of shoes for herself – OK, I’m a baaad influence.

So I started pulling out drawers and cabinets. I was sweating and panicked. What the hell was I going to do? I looked around and then I remembered we have drawers under the bed we bought. And those drawers are mostly covered by the duvet. I knew Jeff was barely using his closet so he wouldn’t even think about the drawers under the bed. Sure enough, they were empty. But as I placed my shoes, boots and sandals lovingly into their new, hidden home, I started counting and, well, I’m just ridiculous. Who needs 5 pairs of high suede boots here? I brought 3 pairs of rubber boots!ย  What was I thinking?

But that isn’t the capper. Tonight we went down to the garage after I was done unpacking the rest of the stuff and putting it away. I was feeling pretty proud of myself and my ability to cram things in every nook and hidden crannies. Organizing things for easy access later. Winter closet, stored. Yup, I was at the top of my organizational game. I hadn’t over packed afterall. I was a ‘just enough’ goddess.

I got into the elevator with a confident smug swagger that only a truly organized person pull off. Then we measured.

My beloved couch is 43 3/4 inches deep. I don’t care about the height because it passed that test. Our living room window is broken up into sections that are 43 inches. Not 44 inches – 43. And they can’t get any bigger, even if you take the windows out, because of the custom shutters that come down in tracks. So my couch won’t fit. So we went down and took all the wrapping from the move off and I actually talked to the couch.

‘Please couch – I know you’ve been through alot in the last 5 months but I need 3/4 of an inch – that’s all. Please give me 3/4 of an inch.’ I begged and pleaded.

Jeff measured again. I don’t think the couch was very forgiving after spending months in a container ship. It didn’t give up a millimeter. There will be no couch (at least not one from the US) inside El Compartimiento. With every victory, there is also defeat. I had gotten a little cocky with the shoes.

Tonight, Jeff is sporting his Keens, he’s smiling in a fresh pair of shorts and a shirt he hasn’t worn since February. That’s good enough for me.

Dancing in the Rain

As humans, we’ve survived because we have been able to evolve and adapt. The people on this planet today – all of us – are a result of DNA that has been resilient enough to make small changes, allowing us to survive long enough to procreate or at least, not get eaten by a sabretooth tiger. We are all a testament to this process.

So I started looking at ways I might make small changes to my approach. ‘OK’ I said to myself. ‘So you can’t force that document to come back from the State Department fully apostillized tomorrow, or even next week. But what can you do?’

So I reached out to my translator and made a proposal. What if I sent her the copy I have of these FBI background checks? It’s not apostillized, but the words are the same. She could prepare the translation – one less thing for her to translate when they come back from Washington DC. She said that was a great idea so I sent them off to her.

She also told me something else that I read no where else, and wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t made my proposal. Sometimes, the State Department sends back the Apostle and it’s already in Spanish, French and English. This would mean I wouldn’t need the Apostle translated at all. She said not to count on this for sure – but that she’s seen that before.

And all of a sudden, it’s just one more reminder that where there is a will, there’s a way. That in the end, you gotta make your own weather. Forward motion needs to be maintained. So today is a good day. I have no idea if we’ll make our appointment on the 29th. But I will have done everything – absolutely everything – to make that happen.

Its raining outside, I have a full cup of Spanish coffee and I’m spending the day writing my book. Bliss. Sometimes, in the middle of the storm – you gotta go out and dance in the rain. And that’s what I intend to do.

Hear me Roar!

lion marseille train stationWhen I decided to walk the Camino, after quitting my job early in the year, I joined a closed FB group of women who walk the Camino alone. At that time, I had thought I might attempt a solo walk. But in the end, I walked with my 15 year old daughter. It was still really challenging, and for other reasons than just the walk.

Part of the responsibility of completing your Camino, in my opinion, is being supportive of others who are thinking of doing it, and helping them overcome their fears. So I’ve stayed connected to this group and periodically, I read their posts with questions about gear and those questioning their sanity in attempting this monumental undertaking. There are also people who talk a lot about how hard it is to reintegrate after returning home. Family and friends can’t relate to what they have been through and their struggle to re-enter their lives with the new knowledge and confidence they’ve gained. Sometimes others are intimidated by their transformations.

I had a friend once who told me ‘When you’re a lion, you don’t ask for advice from sheep and mice on how to live like a lion. You only ask other lions.’ And of course, she was right. Remembering this today, it made me smile. But it also made me think at how different my life is since all those years ago.

As women, we tend to doubt ourselves, even on some of the smallest undertakings. And THE BIG STUFF? Forget about it. Self doubt all over the place. Am I smart enough? Am I being realistic? Is this crazy? And on and on. And there are plenty of people out there who will validate our fears. Advising us to play it safe, by not playing at all. But during this move to Europe, it’s caused me to look at my life. To assess my own strengths and weaknesses. And honestly, I like what I see.

Subconsciously, I have surrounded myself with lions. Both virtually and in person. People who are brave and bold. People who seek new adventures and new experiences – both large and small. I married a man who created his own Camino by riding the Arctic Circle, solo, on his motorcycle. He was ill in urgent care two days before but pulled out of our driveway. But he was unafraid – at least he seemed to be at the time.

‘There’s always going to be good reasons not to go.’ he said ‘I just gotta do it.’

And he was right. Sometimes, people’s personal Camino’s are smaller or take longer. Getting a degree that has long been out of reach. Finally, breaking through some invisible barrier no one else can see, or conceive of, that has held them back. These are the triumphs that can make us lions too.

We are lucky. We’ve gotten so much encouragement from our friends for this new adventure we’re planning for. I’m blessed that the pride of lions that surrounds us can understand our roar, and what it means to be bold.