All our bags are packed and we’re ready to go, but the Chinese are in no rush to grant us visas. So we’re cooling our heels in a DoubleTree suite hotel in Foggy Bottom, which gives me ample time to cater to a traumatized cat and to reflect on the wonderful friendships we have and how many people already have helped us in our big move.
Many thanks, for instance, to Susan and Tim who graciously accepted our half-empty bottles of cointreau and vermouth and some crazy coffee liqueur, all packed up in a Tea Party bag inherited from a Roll Call reporter who thought it would be funny to leave it at my house; to Jennifer and Bill for taking all my tea, some cocoa, and various other odd items as well as our forwarded mail; to Grace and John who now have enough vinegar (rice wine, balsamic, red wine, white wine, white) for a lifetime along with a nice collection of orchids; to Rick and Kathy for picking up my ancient grapefruit tree and other assorted plants and bringing them by pickup truck to Fredricksburg; to Carol and Bill who took temporary custody of Joanna’s car and my grandmother’s fern; to various folks who were happy to take leftover wine and beer.
Many thanks to all who have invited us for dinner in our homeless state. Our waistlines may not thank you, but we appreciate it more than you know.
Many thanks to the movers who cheerfully boxed up our gas grill, our sofa, beds, tupperware, candlesticks, paper towels, refrigerator magnets, and the odd assortment of items accumulated over time, and who treated me with a wary respect after I tried to send them back to Delaware when they showed up a day early.
Many thanks to all who have offered to put us up when the DoubleTree gets to be too much.
Many thanks to the folks at Friendship Animal Hospital who have helped me figure out the ridiculous demands of taking a 13-year-old cat halfway around the world.
Many thanks to the folks at News Corp. who are funding this grand adventure even as it struggles to get off the ground.
Many thanks to our kids who think it's kind of cool that their parents are as wanderlustful as they are.
And most of all, many thanks to my mother, sister, and brothers for the support. This was not an easy decision, and I know what it means to all of you.
The months preceding this moment were a blur of decisions: Do I take all my serving platters? Do we have time to clean the chimney? Is 200-plus people too many people to invite to a party in our tiny three-bedroom? (Those of you who had to fight your way to the deviled eggs know the answer to that question.) Will the tenants want the pots of mums on the back steps?
Our encumbered, cluttered life has been pared down to a simpler existence in which we have time to stroll the National Mall, go the movies, visit the new MLK memorial, and spend hours sliding cat treats and a water dish under the sofa bed where the poor cat has taken refuge.
I’ll keep you posted on all our adventures on this blog with the silly name. I hope to stay in touch with everyone if and when I get to Beijing by email, phone, Facebook, instant-message, and regular visits home. Let’s get this adventure started now.