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Our 20′ shipping container

Part One: An Idea   Part Two: An Offer   Part Three: The Work

We submitted our immigration applications and received our passports stamped with our visas May 22. No need for Plan B. Our shipping container was scheduled to arrive May 30. Our house was packed in labeled, numbered boxes (116 pieces total). I had two copies of the inventory list— one for us to keep and the other for customs to review at port. We were told it’d take over a month to get our belongings in New Zealand, which meant we’d be without for a few weeks after we landed (more on this later).

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One page of the inventory list for customs

At the end of April, we held one last garage sale but ended up giving away several belongings for free. I kick myself for it everyday— if we’d had more time we would’ve been able to get money for a lot of those items or fit them in.

The three of us would each travel with a large suitcase and a carry on. The plan was for friends and family to take us in as we transitioned during June 2013 and we’d arrive in New Zealand in the middle of their winter July 4. Packing for the opposite climates wasn’t easy and because we’d be without our belongings for a bit in New Zealand, I had to make sure my son had his favorite toys along for familiarity.

We knew the company my husband would work for set us up in temporary housing for a week upon arrival, which would hopefully give us enough time to find a rental home (common in NZ). Our son would sleep in his pack and play as we traveled and until his crib arrived. We also had my husband’s guitar, a stroller, and car seat. Our dog had to have the correct carriers. When flying domestic with us, he’d be able to fit under the seat in a soft-sided carrier but from Los Angeles to New Zealand, he’d have to be in a hard sided kennel. There was no way to travel light.

Our cars sold (with the exception of one crazy, CRAZY last minute snafu that is another story in itself), and we’d rented a car to get us around town the last few days and to Boston.

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Local movers arrived early on the 30th to wrap furniture and haul it onto the 20’ shipping container. They were diligent in their packing; securing it so nothing would break (and nothing did!). We could’ve fit so much more stuff in but knew Kiwi housing wouldn’t tolerate much of our oversized American furniture anyway. It was surreal to watch the life we’d made for ourselves in Vermont— both of us residing there for over a decade— slowly slip away. As the driver locked the back of the trailer, one of our friends said, “Just think— the next time you see your stuff it’ll be on the other side of the world.”

The other side of the world. Where we know no one (except I sort of knew a guy named Joe “Wellington” but I couldn’t find him and you can read all about that here). I had no clue how friendly people would be or where we’d even live. But we were leaving. This was it.

And it felt right.

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Our last night in our empty Vermont home (I wish I would’ve brought the rug instead of giving it away)

After the whirlwind closing of our house on one of the hottest days of summer 2013 (my baby wouldn’t nap), we decided to give Vermont a proper goodbye instead of heading straight to Boston. We wanted time to pause after all the work we’d done. In 2008, we got married at a yoga retreat outside the quaint town of Stowe. Because our families and friends gathered in Stowe before our celebration, we decided to stay at Stoweflake for two nights to soak up Vermont’s healing energy one last time. I’m glad we did.

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Enjoying our last night in Vermont at Stoweflake Resort

A few days later, our dear friends welcomed us into their home in Boston, dog and all. They even let us host a small birthday party for our soon-to-be one-year-old. We cherish those moments with our East Coast loved ones.

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We weren’t traveling light

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Insane amount of luggage (not sure where the water noodle came from but it didn’t come with us on the plane!)

Here’s where things got a little wacky. When it came time to catch our flight to Minnesota from Logan Airport, in true Carlino fashion we were late, underestimating the weekday morning traffic. We had to return our rental before checking in to our flight, too. The line at the return was insanely long and feeling defeated, I accepted we’d miss our flight. We had after all, created a theme of doing everything twice, so why not this, too?

Really, we had no idea what we were doing. We had an abundance of luggage, a dog, and a baby, and getting around Logan was the last thing I wanted to try to figure out. Even if we caught the shuttle in time, there was question if there’d be enough room for all of our bags. I remember my mantra at the time to keep me cool was, “it’ll work out the way it’s supposed to.”

And it did.

As my husband waited in line to return the vehicle, one of the car rental workers rushed over to where I stood holding my son next to the car that held our adventure.

“Yah gotta go?” He gestured to the car.

“Yeah, I’m waiting for my husband.”

“Well if yah guys gotta get to yah flight, then let’s go. I’ll take yah.” I could barely understand him with his thick Boston accent but got the gist as he began to fling our luggage back into the rental.

I peered around for my husband and sent him a frantic text:

GET BACK TO THE RENTAL IMMEDIATELY

This Bostonian was going to take us directly to departures. We could make it. For some reason my husband wasn’t nearly as concerned as I was about missing the flight because he moseyed back to me, taking his time, as if he were sight seeing at the Great Wall of China.

The car rental guy seemed just as miffed at my husband as I was— jumping into the driver’s seat and barking orders at us. “I don’t care if yah put yah kid in the cah seat or not, yah can set him on yah lap but if yah gotta make yah flight then yah gotta get in now!”

There was no way I was going to do that (duh) so I took the time to put him in the seat. The guy yelled at me to sit on my husband’s lap in the front seat since that was the only option with the boot completely full. The guy drove LIKE A MANIAC (I mean, I really wondered if he was on stimulants or something) to get us to departures; he ran red lights and honked at slow drivers—it was the worst type of Boston driver complete with racial slurs toward other drivers that prevented me from rewarding him with angel status. But he got us there.

At the airport, we hurried to find a luggage cart, relieved to drop the heaviest of our baggage off so we could focus on our carry ons. Of course, as we waited in line at the gate, our dog decided it was the perfect time for him to have a poo.

My husband scampered off to get tissues to clean up the mess and people were mostly polite about it since they saw we had a baby in a stroller beginning to fuss. This would be his first plane ride, a short three hours compared to the fifteen we’d have in a few weeks, and judging by how things were going so far… we were in for quite the adventure.

And it felt right.

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New Zealand or Bust

 

Up Next Part Five: New Zealand or Bust

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