We got a package in the mail yesterday from the company that will be shipping all our stuff. In the package was the paperwork we'll need to fill out for the move, including forms from the US.
Are you ready for this?
Turns out we are required to list out all the items we have bought abroad (outside the US), separated into lists of items bought more than 1 year ago and less than 1 year ago. For household items that are less than 1 year old, we need to list the price, date, and place of purchase. Duties will then be charged on these items by the US (this would be on top of the local 15-20% value-added taxes already paid when we bought the stuff to begin with-- yes, sales tax is that high in Europe). For household items more than 1 year old, we're supposed to have proof of them being over a year old, otherwise duties will be charged on them, too. Oh, and they'll charge duties on any personal items bought, ever, no matter how old.
We're trying to figure out how big a deal this really is, and how big of a pain in the ass. Seems kind of ridiculous to have to prove that our $20 Ikea chairs are really over a year old. Or have to remember the exact purchase price or location of, say, the ceramic chanchito I bought in Chile. Zach's wondering if we can get away with just not listing anything, claiming it all came over with us.
In other move-related news, time seems to be moving at serious warp speeds. The movers are coming on Thursday to pack up our things, which will then be shipped off on Friday. ONE WEEK FROM TODAY. My brother arrives that same Friday, he'll spend the weekend here with us in an empty house before leaving for a week in the mountains with us and my mom and step-dad (who'll be meeting us there). We then come back from our week away, have less than 5 full days to finish up any last-minute stuff, and fly out that next Friday, exactly 3 weeks from today.
We're trying to fit in time to see our friends at least one last time before we leave, which is turning out to be kinda complicated. The funny thing about being an expat in Europe is that, while normally weekends are the time to spend time with friends, weekends for you instead become your time to travel meaning everyone's away. We're having some people over this Sunday, but it's mostly gonna turn out to be village and work friends as most of our ex-pat friends are predictably out of town. We may get to do a dinner with them one of our last days here, though. These next 5 days will be spent sorting through stuff, deciding what can go in the big shipment, what can be set aside for the later, shorter air shipment, and what we'll have room for in our suitcases (which coincides with, what do we need to have with us till the last minute?). The process of endless list-making has begun, the only way to keep my head from spinning completely out of control.
After putting D down to bed last night, Zach and I took the baby monitor and went next door for dinner (it's been such a nice perk having the restaurant right next door, gonna miss that!). As we sat on the outdoor patio we saw a huge tractor pull up and park on the street right across from the resto, and as the man go out 2 other men sitting at a table behind me started shouting teasing greetings to him. I don't know if this had been a planned meeting or coincidence, but the man with the tractor came and sat down at the table with his 2 friends and they ordered another carafe of wine. I listened to their animated conversation, not being able to understand half of what they said, enjoying instead the ability to listen simply to the cadence of the language without the distraction of words or their meaning. It may be annoying and frustrating to stumble along in a language you don't quite grasp, but I will also greatly miss having it be all around, listening to it constantly, and the triumphant feeling that comes after having a conversation in French that you actually understood and spoke well in. I will also greatly miss this village, where the sight of horses tied up outside the restaurant has become commonplace, where people almost always say "bonjour" or "bon soir" when passing, where we've really only just begun forming relationships with the locals.
When we left California it was sad in a way, but mostly exciting-- we had this whole new adventure ahead of us, and a great place that we were leaving but knew we'd come back to. This time there's still the excitement about our destination, looking forward to reuniting with good friends and our former favorite places, but it's also strange and bittersweet to know that we're leaving this wonderful place that, realistically, we may never have a chance to come back to again.