Saying Goodbye to America
On December 13th, 2017, I said goodbye to America. After a grueling last semester of nursing school, my bags were packed, our belongings were shipped out and gone, and Zoey (our Germany Shepherd) had all her required doggie paperwork. Just a few days earlier, I had graduated from nursing school with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. It’s like a grand finale!
Leaving was bittersweet, because as much as I longed to be with my husband again, I had to say goodbye to my parents first. They had arrived in town (Fayetteville, NC – near Ft. Bragg) 10 days before, to attend my graduation and help with the moving process. It was a rare event for civilians to get to participate in an OCONUS move! (OCONUS = outside the continental United States) Daddy was able to work remotely, so during the day he worked while Mama and I busied ourselves with organizing and packing. We thought that on the days in between movers coming, that we would be able to do some fun, touristy stuff together….but everything took up much more time than I had anticipated!
Moving Your Stuff Overseas
The day before my parents arrived, the NTS (non-temporary storage) movers came and took away items for storage. We didn’t need ALL our books in Germany, nor did we need both large bookcases and a third desk. And, I figured that putting our antiques in storage was a safer bet than hauling them across the ocean.
On Monday, December 4th, a different set of movers came to pack and pick up Unaccompanied Baggage — known as UB, UAB, or the “express” shipment. This shipment is supposed to contain items that you will want ASAP after arriving in-country. I packed items such as our bikes, hangers, a limited set of dishes and utensils, a few pots and pans, bedding, a small TV screen and DVD player, a couple lamps and TV dinner tables, Mark’s pro-gear, a laundry basket, a mop and towels, Mark’s toolkit, a Squatty Potty (poop = priority!), clothing and shoes, and our Christmas tree and ornaments. (Boy were my hopes high! As of this writing, UB is not here yet.)
December 5th was filled with preparing for the big pack-up day. First thing in the morning on the 6th, the Household Goods movers arrived. (I had just rolled out of bed and greeted them bleary-eyed, after they sat on the stoop for a few minutes. Thankfully they were the mother-daughter team who packed up our NTS shipment! They were so great to work with.) Their task was to pack and label all items being boxed, which took about eight hours. The next day, they along with a crew of three men came to wrap up the furniture and load all the items into the wooden crates. (Note: if you are doing an overseas move: do not sign any papers until everything is packed up! Also make sure you sign the stickers and watch them seal the crates.)
Living Like a Nomad
The next few days, we “camped in” on air mattresses that my friend Jenny had lent us. We used pots and cooking utensils from my brother-in-law Matt, until he left town. For dinner, we hauled our food over to the apartment clubhouse so we could sit at a table to eat. All that week, I slowly began to pack my suitcases….and every now and then would have a mini freak-out moment that I wasn’t going to fit everything. Normally when I worry about stuff like that, I’m worrying about nothing, but in this case it was true. I ended up mailing two boxes to Germany, and even then my bags were overweight!! It was the weirdest feeling. It felt like I was packing for a vacation but it was a vacation where I was forever leaving my location and had to bring everything with me!
After nursing school graduation, hosting my graduation/going away party, and saying goodbye to Matt (who moved to Wisconsin on December 10th), we had one last day to get stuff done. It is all such a blur now! I wanted my last dinner in Fayetteville to be something thoroughly American, so we ate at Mission BBQ. It’s a place decorated in Americana with delicious BBQ and is 100% pro-military and pro-law enforcement. They even gave us free bread pudding dessert when I mentioned that I was moving out of the country. (I couldn’t eat it, being gluten-filled, but it was such a nice gesture.)
The morning of December 12th, I picked up a rental vehicle (a Toyota 4Runner) so that I could drive myself, Zoey, and our luggage to the Baltimore Washington International airport. That thing was huge!! But it was good because I had two large suitcases, my violin, a carry-on bag, Zoey, and Zoey’s XL crate. I have video that I’ll eventually post of Daddy stuffing everything into the back! It’s a good thing he’s strong.
Mama and I both teared up saying goodbye. It was an exciting new adventure I was about to embark upon, but it’s never easy leaving family and not knowing when you’ll see them again. I can’t express how grateful I am for my parents helping me out. They really are the best!! After several hugs and pictures, we both drove off: Zoey and me in the 4Runner, and they in my Chevy Cobalt — which was no longer mine because they bought it from me! We drove along in the same route at first, and then we parted ways on the highway, waving again. That was it! I was officially on my way to Germany…the first leg of the journey, at least.
Story to be continued…..