Friday, November 12, 2010

The Trouble With Stuff

Stuff is a two-edged sword for Foreign Service Officers.

We always say we need to live with less stuff. We realize how little we need when we first get to post with no more than what is provided in the welcome kit and what we can carry in two suitcases. Even the amount of stuff we can carry in the suitcase has been reduced.

And yet, travelling lets us get more stuff. Cool stuff that has a story about our travels. And the stuff we have, that we take with us, is also the little piece of home that we need to remind us of who we are.

But every couple years, we have to pack up all that stuff, or rather, let someone else pack all that stuff, and ship it around the world. And that is when you get the horror stories of people losing their stuff.

You hear all the stories...the warehouse that caught fire, the boat that sank, the car that made it all the way to port only to be dropped from the crane as it was being unloaded.

I think of all of this because the more I think about going to most, the more I feel the need to start sorting, packing, tossing all this stuff we have accumulated. And it was brought home today as a friend learned that her stuff, which was supposed to be delivered today, which was late because some other boats had crashed into each other and lost other people's stuff, was in containers damaged with mold and water. She won't know until next week whether her stuff was damaged. Whether she has any stuff left at all.

We plan to leave a lot more in storage here this time around. A lot of things I took with me before, like my books, my pottery collection, etc will be safer in storage than travelling back and forth on a slow boat. I just have to figure out what we need to make our house in Tallinn a home while leaving behind the home full of stuff we like but don't need.

And we need to be able to be comfortable with losing any part of it.


Becky said...

So true. Love that last line.

A Daring Adventure said...

Holy cow. Thank you so much for sharing this story!!

I agree with you about the stuff. I'm scared to take the stuff I love to post with us, but I also don't want to leave every single thing that we love behind, for our place at post needs to feel a bit like home, too, right?


Bfiles said...

Stuff really does take on a funny meaning in the FS.
In my head, I travel light and don't need anything. In my reality? I have SO MUCH STUFF. The good news is that I'm not attached to most of it; I just don't want to have to buy it again! But the stories of loss are so, so sad.