By our second week in Jordan, I think the dust motes were finally starting to settle from our arrival. The first week was completely blanketed in a jet lag haze. The baby seemed to have it worse this time than we did. But of course that means we were all affected by it. It's not like you can tell an 18-month-old to just play quietly while mommy and daddy sleep at four in the morning. So our hours were a bit topsy-turvy that first week. But by the second week, our sleep schedules were more on track, which meant there was a bit more normalcy to our days. Which also meant I could finally focus on the house a little and address my long-dormant nesting needs.
To do this, I started by unpacking our six suitcases; keeping in mind that we'd been living out of these for the previous three-plus months and had also acquired some miscellaneous items along the way. Meaning, it was just as likely that I'd be unpacking socks or t-shirts as it was cans of pumpkin (holidays were coming and I had no idea if I could readily get it in Amman), or six bottles of face cream (hey, they were on sale!), or four packs of frozen-solid veggie sausages (these are becoming a mainstay for my suitcases), or even a one-armed zombie cupcake topper that got left behind during the pack-out from Kuwait, so we've been carrying him around all summer.
So with lots of help from Bean (she loves to unpack, everything, always) I'd unpack and pile up similar items, making a baby's room pile, or a toiletry pile, or a cat-stuff pile, or a kitchen pile. Then I'd deliver said piles and put things away as best I could. At one point, as I was bustling around the house with my piles, I came around the corner to find Bean chewing on one of Daddy's stick deodorants like it was a push pop. I performed a quick wash-out-the-mouth-with-water routine and think we got most of it. But for a while her breath did smell a bit like a spicy leprechaun.
Throughout our house explorations, we did come across some previous inhabitants that we're just going to have to work out a cohabitation agreement with. I think the rules will state that anyone bigger than a dime (legs included, you spiders) will get a little lift outside. But those smaller (ants, that's you) will just have to brave life in a house with four adult feet, two toddler feet, and eight feline feet (six, if you don't count Louie's semi-immobile ones). So sorry ants, you're on your own. Living in a ground-floor garden apartment has it's plusses and minuses, as well as its roommates.
Another part of the settling in process is also getting to know your neighborhood and your neighbors. In Cairo, we had the junkyard dealers who lived in the crumbling mansion behind us and it was always entertaining to see the latest finds they'd drag in (sometimes refrigerators or mannequins or piles of 2x4s). In Kuwait, we never really saw any neighbors, but during the day I'd see the battalions of nannys, housekeepers, and drivers going about their day, and I just assumed there were unseen folks who employed them. Here in Jordan our neighborhood is mostly four to six-story apartment houses, but there are little strips of grocery stores and bakeries, jewelry stores and florists, and the requisite coffee shops and nail salons strewn about.
It's quiet during the day, with the occasional car driving by or a small school bus picking up or dropping off kids. In our first few days here I heard what sounded like an ice cream truck going by. It was this tinny slightly out of tune music playing over and over. You could hear it coming a few blocks away and when I first looked out I saw the school bus but at the same time I also saw an old rusty truck driving by with propane tanks in the back. So now I had to determine whether the tinny music came from the school bus or the propane delivery truck; my bet was on the school bus. A few days later I heard the tinny music again and rushed to the window to see the rusty propane truck slowly pass by. So now I hear it all the time, sometimes several times a day. We get our propane delivered regularly, so I won't have any reason to go running out excitedly when I hear the music, waving my money in the air, and for that I can't deny a little disappointment.
In addition to all the physical settling in, there are some emotional stages that you have to endure as well. First there's the exhausted-but-excited stage of arriving at any new place and exploring everything from the kitchen cabinets to the grocery store to the city itself. This is often coupled with the exhausted-from-traveling stage and they've been known to swap places randomly and at inopportune moments (like when meeting your husband's new co-workers and all you can think about is how thick and heavy your eyelids are but you're trying to pretend that you are a clever engaging worldly woman with deep thoughts beyond "sleep good.").
Nearing the end of the second week your excitement begins to wane a bit, not in the sense of the new city, but rather in the sense that you're really tired of living out of the same suitcases for four months and you find yourself craving strange things like your kitchen trashcan or a laundry hamper or the baby's proper highchair or even just a different t-shirt from the six you've been rotating all summer. You start to get a bit crabby and you find yourself muttering things about "my" fruit bowl or "our" sheets or "my" shower cap. Things that ordinarily you don't fixate on, but because you haven't seen them for a few months, they suddenly take on a whole new (crazy) level of importance. But, having been through this before I don't fret. I know that, like the jet lag, this crazy phase will end and soon enough I'll have that heirloom-quality shower cap that will make everything better.
So in the meantime, I will continue to nest in our new home, I'll start researching canned-pumpkin uses, and I'll give a little wave to the propane man as I'm releasing Mr. Spider back into the garden. Welcome to Jordan.