Thursday, May 17, 2012


When I was 12 years old, my family moved to Tel Aviv from northern Virginia.  My friends and I wrote each other long letters in balloony handwriting where the "i"s were dotted with hearts or stars or bubbles, analyzing for pages whether that it meant anything that the crush of the week had dropped his pencil in front of our lockers.  Though the letters took at least a month to arrive, at first I had so many pen-pals that I was getting at least one per week.  I kept them in a cardboard box under the sink in my bathroom until the day the pipes burst.  My second box did not fill up as quickly.  By the end of the three-year tour, I only had one pen-pal left.


Today on the playground, when talking about the transfer season and my impending pack-out, someone commented "well, you're a professional."  She was referring to the fact that I've been doing this - moving - since I was a year old.  And she was assuming that I was "good" at it by now. 

This is my 18th move.  If I were going to get "good" at it, I would have done it by now.  And in some ways, maybe I have.  I know that I want the house to be somewhat organized when the movers arrive.  I know that I don't want them carefully wrapping empty CD cases in endless layers of packing paper - so I prepack the house, as much as I can, before packing day.  And I know that I am not the type of person who can just blow through the house in 24 hours and take care of everything.  So I start a month in advance, an hour or so a day.  It's manageable.

When it comes to maintaining friendships, though, I have learned that it is not entirely under my control.  I email.  I call.  I start out with five pen-pals.  I end up, if I'm lucky, with one.  I know that, in most cases, it is nothing personal.  It's just how things are.

But it never gets easier.  The week or two before a move, I find myself withdrawing.  Even right now, on this gorgeous 75-degree day, I am holed up in my sewing room which, as you saw in the last post, is piled high with boxes.  I think that's because it's easier to be here, among the things that I will have with me in the future, than outside with the things I am leaving behind.  I know, it's really weird.

I've enjoyed my time here so much that it almost feels easier to say goodbye to Moscow and my friends now, before I've even left, so that the actual leaving is less difficult.  Our nanny, who has become family, told me that she would come the morning of our flight to see us off.  I am not going to tell her no, but I am honestly dreading this.  Those types of goodbye are too stark, too final, too real.  I prefer to just see you one day, and not see you the next.  I don't want to cry on the plane.  I want to look forward, not backward.

So, no, I'm not good at it.  But I have built a coping mechanism.

What's yours?


  1. I withdraw as well. Instead of withdrawing the last month or so, I find that I start withdrawing the second half of our tour - as if this will make it easier to say "goodbye" when the time comes.

  2. Hey Masha,
    Moving never gets easier. However, for some reason, even though we were only overseas once, we've moved twice after that. For me (and unsure about the husband), I find that I love surrounding myself with the people who made my living in that particular place worthwhile. Sharing memories and believing deep down that new ones would be formed makes me feel a little less sad when we finally have to leave.

    PS- I love reading your posts. Again, it brings back so many memories and feelings I didn't know existed before. Everyone is different though; I think that you are doing a fine job of dealing with good bye just as well as anyone else would. Safe travels!


  3. Good luck with everything Mash, take comfort that while leaving some people behind, you get to take your favorites with you!

  4. I've never come to your blog before and I shouldn't have come today because that post just made me cry. I hate goodbyes too so I usually just rush through them and pretend it's not for real and then wait until later to feel the loss. It's not easy this moving around stuff.

  5. Masha - I totally get this - and you've described this emotion with perfection. Don't forget the other side of the coin, though -- it's often amazing how quickly you run into old friends again, in circumstances unexpected and completely beyond your control. It's a small world. Safe travels - and see you soon!

  6. Hi Masha,
    I haven't checked in on your guys in awhile because we too have been transitioning back to the US from Thailand. I just read this posting today and it made tears come to my eyes. We said farewell to our friends, colleagues and nanny just 3 months ago and it stank! What I dread are drawn-out farewells where you see people over and over again before leaving, thinking it is a "final farewell". I would rather just get it over with...but at the same time it is nice to see everyone as much as possible before leaving.

    Now we are in transition mode. Living with parents, job searching and trying to give our daughter adequate attention while remaining productive. It would be great to see you and Jeremy and your girls before you head back overseas. How long are you in DC and where are you staying?

    Hope to catch-up with you all soon!


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