Nothing comes off exactly as planned. But, now, a week after the fact, I can safely say that departure from Bloomington, Chicago, and the United States went about as smoothly as could be expected.
Sitting in the gate area waiting for our flight to be called, I thought back on all the planning we’d done over the past six months. My “job” for much of that time was to plan, research, contract, and execute the cheapest, most hassle free move possible. I’d thought of and planned everything, down to and including figuring the average number of times a cat/dog could be expected to mess its kennel during a traumatic 16 to 20-hour trip.
Sitting in that nicely air-conditioned waiting area I realized that the process of moving overseas was much like an iceberg. Six months of waking up in the middle of the night with some eureka moment or another meant that, now, when the time came to execute the plan, we were well prepared for all eventualities. The ten percent of the iceberg visible above water was the trip going as planned. Six months of hyper-obsessive planning was the other ninety percent below the surface.
We left Bloomington at 6a.m. It was already 76 degrees with crushing humidity, and the cats and dog were lapping at their rapidly thawing “frozen” water dishes. By the time we reached Indianapolis one cat had already wet his kennel and the other pets had water splashing from their fully thawed water dishes. After a quick change of soiled linens (we brought enough for two changes each and planned to simply throw the old towels and cut up comforter pieces away at gas stations along the way), we topped off their water and hit the road again.
For the rest of the trip to Chicago, the pets, as expected, took turns yowling and whining such that at least one of them was making noise for the entire 6 hour trip. Again, we’d planned on this, cranked the radio, and plied them with treats and rawhide chews.
We’d chosen to fly from Chicago rather than Indianapolis because the most dangerous part of pet transport is not time on the plane, but time in transfer. Direct flights are best because it limits the chances of kennels being left on a hot tarmac, or forgotten in a luggage cart or un-air conditioned portion of the airport.
When we arrived in Chicago we mailed our last day box (a collection of phones, clothes, computer keyboards, and other last minute items we “needed” until the bitter end, but still wanted to take with us well after the last big shipment was containerized and on its way). We then met a contractor working with Pet Express, our pet transport company. Documents were quickly and effortlessly checked (thanks to having extra copies of everything and having obsessed about that moment for weeks). Thawed water dishes were replaced with fresh frozen ones, and more soiled kennel linens were swapped for fresh. By now the pets had all panicked and used the old towels for their intended purpose.
(A very special thanks must be said to our friend Jessica for cutting up our old comforter and binding the seams into kennel-sized pieces).
Pets successfully checked in, we relaxed a bit, had lunch, returned the cargo van, checked our excessive luggage stash with Aer Lingus, and found a cool spot in which to relax until take off.
In an earlier post I said that I expected that last run down the runway to be filled with angst and turmoil as I was, in that moment, somehow magically transformed from an American to an expat.
Alas, it was not to be. I sat there waiting for something to hit me. But it was just another take off. I felt nothing. In fact it was such a non-event that I almost missed it, and only focused on the moment at the last second. That, I hadn’t planned on.
The only real loss I felt came about an hour into the flight when I realized that I would no longer have ready access to American bourbon, and might be forced to switch to Irish whiskey. Fortunately, I had planned on this. I fished in my bag and came out with a TSA-sized bottle of Woodford Reserve.
“Excuse me, miss. Ice please.”
Things to look forward to in upcoming posts:
- White Male Ethnicity
- The Logistics of International Moving
- Moving Pets