The wait was a month and a half long but it felt a lot longer, something akin to the gestation period of the Blue Whale and just as painful to pass. I had been waiting for my reassignment from the Peace Corps after Ukraine fell deeper into turmoil and American volunteers were sent home ending my tenure in Eastern Europe before it began. The participation of Ukraine Group 47 was canceled before Russia annexed a willing Crimea out from under the new government in Kiev. I had no idea what the Peace Corps had in store for me next: when I would be leaving or where I would be going. The not-knowing was agonizing; the wait was painful. While at the same time I was grateful the house was sold, yet tortured by the need to get rid of my possessions and move all my things out. (I’ve already written about the dog.) I felt I couldn’t look for an apartment because I didn’t know how long I’d need to rent it for. Until the Peace Corps told me something concrete, I couldn’t do anything. I was in limbo and unable, or more appropriately, unwilling, to move forward with many things. And so the excuses and the self-pity snowballed. In the meantime I made plans to have an estate/garage/tag sale.
The day before the dreaded sale, the Peace Corps nominated me to serve in Thailand, but I wouldn’t be leaving until January, nine months away. One minute I’m grieving over losing my possessions, selling them for a song, and a sad song at that. The next minute I’m transported to the Land of Smiles and trying to conjure some Buddhist serenity. Then back to the reality of sticking 50 cent price tags on the bottom of my stemware, wondering what price memories are going for in this part of town, in this economy.
I had been surviving on mainly coffee these past few weeks thinking solid food wouldn’t find its way through my knotted stomach. I’d stopped cooking meals for myself; many things are packed away or on display for the quick sale and quite simply I haven’t been in the mood. Making a decision as to what take-out joint to visit is an ordeal onto itself; I’m racked with indecision. And then I think about how much I love Thai food and can’t wait to start my Peace Corps service there. The emotional volley continues throughout the day and night.
The two-day sale went well, or so I was told by my friend Dan, who helped me through it all. He dealt with the indoor sales and told me to stay outside, in the garage with the garden tools, air conditioners and old clothes, away from the frantic bargaining and high speed sales he was conducting. He was on a mission to get things out the door and my sentimentality and subjective attachment to my things was best left outside to bake in the sun. So I sat in the warm spring days chatting folks up and doing my bit to sell and recycle. During lulls I would wander indoors, grab another cup of coffee and Dan and I would compare notes on the nice people we met and were happy to give deals to. These pleasant thoughts were quickly overshadowed by our sniping about the handful of jerks though.
When it finally ended Dan and I counted the money and I hugged him like a brother, the brother I never had. I held him perhaps too tightly and for a little too long but I needed to express how appreciative I was of his kindness and support. I was grateful and tired and a tear fell and he could tell it was not a joyful tear.
Now that the event is over I’m left with a fraction of the clutter I started with and need to figure out what to do with it next. I have a hard time seeing the house as more than half empty, I see only what’s left to do. Yet I try to envision the Thai monks and want so desperately to channel their peace and their thankfulness for what they have, at any given moment.
Despite all the downsizing and selling and packing and moving, I have somethings now I didn’t have a month ago. I have two concrete milestones to aim toward. I will formally move out of my home in a few short weeks. Beyond that, in January, is Thailand. Between these two life-changing events is a large gap of unknowing. But there is order in finally knowing the length and depth of that gap and in that order I know I will find serenity. I will try not to put a price tag on it.