Sunday, August 16, 2009

From Two Hours To Two Days

I had been thinking about packing for weeks. Sometimes I would lay in bed at night and look at the shelving units, trying to figure out how many suitcases I'd need to jam all the stuff in. Then I'd think about all the souvenirs I've bought (which are hidden behind the cabinet doors) and how they'd fit into our luggage.

We came to China with fourteen moderately sized bags, and so my guess was that we'd be well-equipped to pack everything (if we all worked together) into just the bags we had, and that it would take around two hours, tops, to do so. After all, we really only had three rooms to pack up, since the kitchen supplies were not coming back with us and all the bathroom toiletries were to be discarded.

It sounded good, anyway!

Bottom line is that somehow we acquired a bit more dongxi than I had expected. Two days, and two trips to Metro (the Chinese equivalent of Costco) later, we had three new gigantic suitcases and a total of seventeen not-so-moderately sized bags, a framed wall hanging, four bike helmets, and four authentic Chinese hats that we acquired in the rice paddies at Ping An.

This was the case even after giving a ton of things away (especially all those clothes that no longer fit Julie and Z because of their recent growth spurts), not to mention all the items we tossed out. Steve made his way up and down those eighty-five steps over and over again, like he was running the Great Wall marathon, trying to fins empty trash cans to fill with all the items that didn't make our cut. Happily, a lot of our excess did find its way into the homes (and onto the feet) of our Yan Bei Yuan neighbors, who enjoyed a priceless garage sale (without the garage!). Recyclables were also carted off to Julie and Z's recycling buddies. As we witnessed so many times here, the idea of "waste not, want not" prevailed.

Up to the last second, I found myself trying to stuff items into this case or that, trying to keep the weight as close to that twenty-three kilogram mark as I could, but knowing we might be in a bit of trouble at check-in time...



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