Stripped bare

At the moment, I’m living the Zen life. We have just what we need for furniture: A few borrowed chairs and tables, a couch, two beds, and a few dressers. For the kitchen, we have a plastic tub’s worth of borrowed plates, pots and utensils, supplemented by the items we packed into the five small boxes that were flown over separately for us. For clothing, we have what we brought ourselves in our suitcases, plus some extra that was packed into those delivered boxes. (The borrowed items are all offered to us free on base.)

For the moment, when I look at my walls, this is what I see:

White wall

For variety, I can enter our kitchen or one of our bathrooms and see:


We are lucky. Others who arrived here roughly when we did are still waiting for their base housing. They’re staying in temporary housing either in the base hotel or apartments operated by the hotel. Their move-in dates to homes are uncertain thanks to a variety of bureaucratic and environmental issues. Our house is mostly empty, but at least we have one.

Our home in Ohio was packed up the last week of June. We moved into this empty house the third week of July. Our household goods will arrive the first week of September. When you move a distance as far as Ohio to Japan – even with the U.S. military – it still takes a very long time for your stuff to catch up to you. It’s a modern world that we live in, but oceans are still vast and ships are still slow.

For now, we are rattling around this blank house, sleeping on sheets that aren’t ours, eating breakfast at a table we don’t own, and sitting on a couch that isn’t our style or preferred color. Sound a little depressing? Maybe. But it’s just temporary and not a bad motivator for stepping outside our door to see that big, shiny, strange world out there. In many ways, moving this far strips you pretty bare – all our routines and habits must be reimagined and rebuilt – so it’s only fitting that even our personal space isn’t truly ours yet.

I’ll be thrilled, believe me, when our furniture and books and art and clothes arrive and our home again becomes an expression of our taste – but it doesn’t hurt to remind myself that the things that really matter are already right here with me. What matters, truly, is that Wil, Liam and I are together on this big adventure.

This is us a week before we flew to Japan. (Just realized we haven't taken a photo of all of us since arriving!)
This is us on vacation in Michigan a week before we flew to Japan. (Just realized we haven’t taken a family photo since arriving!)