Monday, October 26, 2015

One Week

Sadly, we have only one week left in India.

Elise and I have been spending a lot of time telling the kids about the wonders of America, but I don't think we are fooling anyone. We are not going on vacation. We are leaving our home. Perhaps, this is the only home the kids really know. Certainly, Clementine and, probably, Peter, know no other home, and Sam--though he professes to remember our apartment in Falls Church and our sweet little pousada in Brasilia--most likely remembers them as places and not as home, a place that is with family and familiar and safe.

On Sunday, I woke up feeling listless and unmotivated. I had meant to get up early to go running, but couldn't make myself get out of bed. Uncharacteristically, I told myself, "What's the point?" Later in the morning, I thought I was depressed. Likely, I was being too self-analytical, but it's times like these, I tend to take for granted moving is one of life's major stressors. The fact that we have moved five times in as many years, doesn't make it any easier, and it will most certainly be as hard to leave India as it was to leave Brazil...maybe harder. I guess what I have to tell myself is that it is okay to feel sad.

Come to find out, I may have been fighting something. Later in the day I had a sore throat. Sometimes, the reason we feel a certain way is more simple than we make it.

When Elise and I took the kids to see the Taj Mahal it was a four-day sojourn. Intentionally so. Some may be able to fly from Chennai to Delhi, drive from Delhi to Agra, see the Taj Mahal, drive back to Delhi from Agra, and fly back to Chennai from Delhi in a single day--maybe two--but with three kids, we felt the best way to travel was to break each leg up into one manageable day. On the second or third night, exhausted, in a strange hotel bed, Peter burst into tears, wailing for his own bed. I am dreading that moment that I am sure is to come....when Peter again bursts into tears, wailing for his bed in India, under the mosquito netting, and Elise and I are filled with crippling sorrow and longing and all we can do is hold Peter, hold onto each other, and hold our family together.

Last night at the dinner table, conversation turned to the inevitable, our upcoming departure, now only one week away.

Sam starred off into space. It became clear a moment later that he was thinking deeply. "I have a lot of friends here," he murmured. His bottom lip began to quiver. Elise's eyes welled up with tears.

I had lunch yesterday with my new boss who has been in the business for several decades. His kids, too, were raised overseas. I asked him when the moves started to become especially hard for the kids. He noted one move when their oldest was 16 and hated the U.S., everything that America stood for, and didn't want to leave South Africa or his friends there. He qualified this by explaining the United States was at the nadir of its global popularity, but still I gathered that I had at least eight to ten years before I really had to worry about dragging truculent teenagers around the world.

To be clear, Sam was not being truculent, nor would I ever accuse him of being so. But his sadness did dissolve into full-on moaning later, induced by exhaustion from the too-long school day. We're all tired. Exhausted. As nauseous gases float back at us from the toilet or shower, we imagine that these invisible vapors  that we have been inhaling for the past two years can't possibly be good for us and, yet, we cannot imagine a future where a day doesn't begin with chanting floating from across the Adyar River, through the windows and into our house at 4:45 a.m., or the bathroom doesn't smell like raw sewage.

It is a little scary for all of us. This is our home. Like it or not. Love it or leave it. Right now, we have no where else to go. Next week--after spending a few nights in London--we will be sleeping on blow-up mattresses on the floor in my dad's empty oceanfront condo, eating off paper plates with plastic silverware. We are excited to see friends and family, eat hamburgers, drink beer. We know a new adventure awaits us and that we will have a new home soon, a beautiful, comfortable home that at some point in the future we will dread leaving, too, but for now we have to tell ourselves it is okay to be sad. We don't have to be more excited to eat Taco Bell than we are sad to leave our home in Chennai.

This will be a hard week.

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