Friday, January 31, 2014

Empty Room

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another" -Anatole France

There is just something about an empty room. It's the same room - my room, the same four walls I've lived in for the last few years. The same view from the windows, the same light coming in at exactly the same angle as it has around 4pm on a winter's day. Devoid of the things that make a room a bedroom, however; a bed, a lamp, a shelf of books; it's just a room. Where someone new will see possibilities, I see what was.

I don't think I have ever made such a drastic transition in my entire life, and I don't think I have ever been so ready to do so. In my time here in Baltimore, I've done everything I wanted to do, I've lived every life I wanted to live here, and I'm ready to move on. I'm ready for a new climate, a new culture, a new favorite cafe to work in, a new job, a new (permanent) roommate who I'm pretty psyched to live with, and the next stage of my life.

"We must die to one life before we can enter another." So many goodbyes in the past week, and many more to come in my last 8 days here in the States. These changes have been so very longed for, but they do have their melancholy. And there will be slips and scrapes and bad navigation and tearful conversations back home because the UAE doesn't have the right shampoo for girls with fine blonde hair and transition, but I welcome it. 

While I hope to one day feel more settled than I have, I hope to never be complacent. New challenges, new adventures, new paths while still working hard to maintain the love and relationships and lessons learned from prior lives. Because you can - and should - never fully shed yourself of your past lives. Rather, they should inform and complement the stages to come.

I leave one empty room behind with most of my earthly possessions packed into a shipping crate that will begin it's terrifically slow plod across the Atlantic next week (and take 6 weeks to reach me in the Middle East), but there is another empty room waiting for me. A room where I'll put a bed, a lamp, a shelf of books, and make it into a bedroom. An office. A living room. A really fabulous balcony. One life is being tied up in neat little bows, but another is only just forming. 

And leaving behind a part of myself is just fine by me - because that means there is always something to come back to to visit.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Things You Never Considered...And Some You Probably Did

At midnight on New Years 2014, The Gentleman told me that I make him very happy, and then got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said a lot of things then, like "Are you seriously doing this right now?" and "Is this happening?" and "Oh my God" and "Is this for real?" and then at some point I think I said yes, because we were hugging and there was this ridiculously awesome ring on my finger and everyone was clapping and - strangely - Iconapop's "I Love It" was playing and we got engaged. There's a video on Facebook. It's mostly of me looking shocked and The Gentleman looking handsome as always.

And then there was champagne. And tequila, but mostly champagne. I think I went to bed somewhere around 4am after making a lot of really expensive, really long-distance phone calls from the Middle East to friends and family in the States. The Gentleman fell asleep on the couch somewhere around 3am when I started Snapchatting pictures of my ring.

It was absolutely perfect. The Gentleman chose an evening where I had on a nice dress and had gotten my hair done and when I was (actually) completely not expecting it.

So now, I am packing up my life and about to end 7 years in Baltimore to move to the Middle East to be with my husband-to-be after a year and a half of long-distance. I have 25 days left in this country before expatriating and a lot of shit to do. Including wrapping up the job where I've been for the last three and a half years, filling out endless forms for visa paperwork, and interviewing for new jobs overseas. And we're engaged! And we're moving into a new flat!

When it rains...


1. If you are taking your cats with you (which I, OF COURSE, am) this is going to be an incredibly expensive and traumatic endeavor for all parties involved. The cats will hate you because they will have to get a million shots and international microchips and have to make multiple trips to the vet. You will hate the vet because they failed to sign all of the requisite paperwork in WET, BLUE INK. (That's literally what it says - WET, BLUE INK) and you will have to make subsequent trips to get the paperwork signed appropriately. Also, the carriers that you will have to buy to transport said animals will be $50 apiece and the cats will shun them.

2. You are a ridiculous hoarder. I don't care how non-hoardy you think you are: move internationally and weep at what a disgusting person you are. WHY DID YOU KEEP _____________ (insert ridiculous memento here)?! You will throw away bags upon bags upon bags of earthly possessions that you now look at with new eyes and define as "trash." The sheer amount of stuff that you own will begin to haunt your sleep and often leave you lying wide awake at 3 in the morning, full of self-hatred and anxiety. You will need a friend to come over, drink wine with you, and exhibit tough love to force you to throw things out. Unless your friend is Bookclubjess in which case she will waiver and say unhelpful things like, "But what if you have to go to a costume party? Won't you need that dress?"

3. If you get engaged and then promptly move overseas less than a month later, you will have approximately 4 hours to enjoy your engagement bliss. I am hoping that I can pick up where I left off at 4am on January 1, 2014 once I am actually on the plane heading to my new home in the Middle East. I did rally enough to create a Pinterest board, which I'm told is the first step in wedding planning. Cross that one off the list.

4. Your passport photo is going to be seen by a bajillion people a bajillion times. Don't like the photo? Get over that shit right now. It's going to be front and center in your life for awhile.

5. Not many people know what Abu Dhabi is. It's the capital city in the country of the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is another major city in that country. It is a beautiful, welcoming country with electricity and high speed internet and running water that you can drink RIGHT FROM THE TAP and no, you will not have to wear traditional Muslim attire if you are not, in fact, a Muslim. They do not allow camels on major thoroughfares and - as a matter of fact - I've been there three times in the last year and I have yet to see a camel anywhere. I have, however, seen gold-vending ATMs and the world's largest Persian rug.

In all seriousness, despite the fact that I cry into my wine glass over what a hoarder I am and hope that someday the cats will forgive me for what I'm about to put them through, I can't help but feel like I somehow won the lottery here. I get to marry The Gentleman and move to a foreign country and have adventures. And hopefully write a book in the process. Probably about cats and hoarding.