As ex-pats, our lives are often defined by what country we are living in and for how long. And while our houses may be temporary, our home travels with us. Having said that, there's always a touch of sadness in saying farewell to yet another house. Last June, as I stood in our living room, after making the final check to make sure we hadn't forgotten anything, I took one final glance out the wall of windows at the lights of Kuwait City sparkling below me. Our apartment's view over the Gulf and downtown Kuwait City had always been one of my favorite things about this house. But as I stood there, I had flashes of the previous year we lived here. In that time our lives had changed forever. Primarily, we became parents with the adoption of our daughter. Plus we had made some great friends, had taken a lot of fabulous trips, and had done our best to live life to the fullest.
But as I watched the cars race up and down Gulf Road, and the lights of the city's skyscrapers reflect off the waves, I found it was the more mundane memories that were coming to me. This simple rug beneath my feet that came with the furnished apartment was where my daughter had taken her first steps only a few months earlier. The desk in the corner was where I wrote my articles for my first paying gig.
This house was where my daughter's first Christmas was, as well as her first birthday. It was also the last home for our sweet cat Ricky, who we'd lost only a week earlier. I had made iced camel cookies and about 200 peanut butter balls in the kitchen for our Christmas cookie party last year. I had walked literally hundreds of miles along the Gulf with my girlfriends as we pushed our strollers in the pre-scorching summer months.
I had gone on one of my crazy crafty trips and made 15 cloth diapers out of my husband's T-shirts at that dining table. I created an intricate paper butterfly mobile for my daughter's room that I only realized later I couldn't hang because the ceilings were too high, so it hung off of a pipe in our guest bathroom instead. And in the tiny little bathroom attached to the maids quarters, I did my best to help a little blind kitten I found along the Gulf. It took me three days of trying to grab him and then I spent another day cleaning him up and trying to get him to eat while he purred in my lap. In the end I took him to the vet but he was too far gone, and we lost him. I try to tell myself that at least he had a warm soft place in the end and got his purr back, but it still hurts.
We had some silly times too, of course. Like when I was taking a shower and the glass door decided to fall off a hinge so I'm standing there naked, holding the 200 pound door, under the shower, screaming for my husband at the other end of the apartment. We got it balanced so I was able to get out of the shower and we called for maintenance to come remove it in case it fell (or exploded into tiny shards of glass, like happened to another friend). It only took about three days and a little nudging, but they did finally come and replace it. Then we had the telephone guy who would only come to repair the phone at 10 o'clock at night. That took at least a week to iron out. And one of my favorite moments, was watching the washer repairman use his iPhone as a flashlight when he was checking out the drum. Quite a juxtaposition from the repairmen in Egypt who would routinely jam a screwdriver into a socket to see if it was live.
Like any house, this one was filled to the brim with memories, good and bad, but all of them densely rich. So as I closed the door and headed downstairs to where my husband and daughter were waiting in the car that would take us to the airport, I said a little thank you to this house that had been a home to us for the previous year. Then I packed up my memories, wedged them into a corner of the diaper bag and headed out; wondering what our next house would hold and thinking about all the amazing memories that were to come.