Almost two weeks ago, our UAB arrived in Chengdu. For those of my loyal readers not familiar with this State Department acronym, it stands for “unaccompanied air baggage.” (The Department has an alphabet and a half of acronyms. Everything from my job as CLO, community liaison officer in long-hand, to ELO, one of Thad’s many designations, being an “entry level officer” to VAT, which is the “value added tax” that diplomats often get back from their host countries. It’s a veritable menagerie of capital letters!) This UAB shipment contains most of the daily-life “stuff” we had while living a stone’s throw away from the Pentagon, including clothes, shoes, accessories and Thad’s ever-so-important PlayStation 3.
I was excited to hear that this set of boxes had finally made their way around the world, been approved for entry into China once Thad had his diplomatic ID card from the government and was headed to my doorstep, and more thrilled that I was not the one responsible for getting them to my twenty-fourth floor doorstep!
Two Fridays ago, a pair laborers from the consulate rang my doorbell at 10AM with a delivery that rivaled anything Santa might bring down the chimney. These two men hauled three large crates into my apartment, nicely dragging them a bit further in to the front spare bedroom so I at least had a walkway through my dining room.
Since it was a workday, I had asked my boss if I could stay home to receive the shipments and then come in post-delivery. (Wow! That last part sounds a little too maternity ward for me!) She said yes without batting an eye, as she is awesome like that! But, that meant that after the three crates made their way in to my home, I had to walk out the door without even cracking them open to take a peek. I had arranged with the consulate workers to ride back to work with them, so as soon as the boxes were shoved in the spare room, we headed out the door and to work, leaving me to ponder their contents and clock-watch all afternoon! (It is amazing how in just nine weeks you can totally forget what was packed where! What that means for the impending arrival of our HHE- household effects- being the things we packed out in Idaho well over a year ago, I can only speculate.)
When the minute hand hit the “12,” designating the arrival of 4PM, I quickly shut down my computer, grabbed my purse and hopped on my furious-fuchsia scooter, honking at any poor sap who happened to block my path on First Ring Road.
I had boxes to open!
As it turns out, the boxes were filled with what I would consider essentials. After nine weeks of wearing the same four dresses to work, I finally had options! (Four dresses in a five day work week means they go on a set rotation schedule. Monday’s dress also becomes Friday’s dress, but with a different necklace to hopefully hide the fact that it is in fact, Monday’s dress. Tuesday’s dress then becomes next Monday’s dress and the process starts all over again.) Plus, the crates were the bearers of extra shoes and more necklaces (and decorative scarves for winter) and enough tank-tops to last me until, well, until next spring when they go on sale at Old Navy again.
I was also excited to see my Scentsy wax warmer and new scents I got while home in Idaho in the spring. (Thanks Candace!) Anything to make Chengdu seem a bit more home-y is high on my list. (Note: that is home-y, not homie, as in the gangsta’ crew and high as in top-ranking, not high as in “I took bath salts and tried to eat someone’s face.” That would make for a totally different blog post.)
Thad was less thrilled with the clothing options afforded by the shipment (this could be because I am pretty sure he packed every pair of socks he owned in our luggage to go on the airplane) and more excited that his beloved PS3 arrived, giving him (and by extension, me) a good excuse to hide indoors from the recent spate of hot/humid weather. The sad (okay, not sad for me, amusing for me, but sad for him) part of this unpacking adventure was that the day I accepted delivery of our shipment, the power in our complex was scheduled to be off for eight hours.
Now, a PlayStation with no power is no fun, but the eight-hour window would have been over by late afternoon, before he would be home from work anyway. But no. Eight hours without power turned into a thirty-four hour slog sans electricity. (Think hot and humid with no air conditioning, no fans, no good way to get a cross-breeze through the house and a freezer full of precious cheese slowing turning to the Dark Side.) Eventually, as in a day and a half later, power was restored and the video-game playing machine was hooked up and ready to roll!
So now, we are one and one with our shipments. One has arrived, safely and soundly, while the other one still floats somewhere mid-Pacific. While it is exciting to contemplate the arrival of the second, meaning we will have all of our stuff again for the first time in nearly a year and a half, it is a bit intimidating, as I really have no idea what is coming from the house in Idaho! It will be like the grab-bag you can purchase at the school carnival. If you want even one or two things in the paper sack, it is considered a good buy. Even though I may not still want everything coming in that shipment (read: clothes I have not seen/worn in well over a year that are probably horribly out of style or so smashed and wrinkled they would make a shar pei look smooth), I know that at least my kitchen stuff, oodles of lotion/body spray and Christmas tree will find a good home in Chengdu!
Here’s to one newly arrived bundle of joy and fingers crossed that its sibling makes an arrival soon and without complications. Someone bust out the cigars and pass them around!