The Other Stuff

Our house in Libya was one of my favourites. Sure, it had a resident rat living in the clothes dryer pipe, a very inconsistent electricity source and random pipes that would burst causing water to inexplicably shoot through a wall at any given hour of the day – but I loved that house. A lot happened in that house.

When our shipment arrived in Tripoli it was a mess. It appeared that the container had been opened by customs, searched and then squashed back in sideways. Chairs were broken, picture frames smashed and ornaments misplaced. For months we’d find ourselves remembering something that was no longer with us “where’s the silver teapot from KL?” And then we’d realize it didn’t make it.
As the furniture made its way off the truck and was carried in to the house, even in its disheveled state, I automatically felt like we were settling. I think it’s a natural thing when you’re traveling, as soon as that container/shipment arrives there’s a feeling of calm. Photos are placed on mantles, clocks on walls, beds are made with familiar sheets. The change table and cot that were in Jakarta and then in KL were now in Libya, it was familiar – it was going to be okay.
The minute the dining table was up we began entertaining. I taught myself how to bake and in between breastfeeding, toilet training and bum wiping I’d usually manage to coax a few extras into our lounge room each week. G and I learnt how to make our own alcohol, yes Mr Ghaddafi we did, and after working through some supply issues, soon enough we were having dinner parties and curry nights resulting in our house being known as the Australian Embassy. 
When we moved to Canada, bought a house and became settled we began the routine again (minus the grog making). The children were tiny, we became experts at child friendly events, feeding little people on arrival and attempting an adult meal that usually resulted in at least one child being passed around as each of us finished a meal. In Houston we had a fairly constant stream of people either around the pool or at the dining table, we cooked ribs and G barbecued the side of the house, but that’s another story for another time.
And then we came to Qatar. And we stopped entertaining.
When we moved here we came with a container full of flat packed IKEA furniture, it was all shiny and new and without the scuffs and memories of 10 years of travel it suddenly felt soulless. The other “stuff,” the “stuff” that we scoured through furniture stores in Jakarta and picked up in markets in KL and discovered in the Souq in Tripoli was all sent back to Australia.

When the shipment came off the truck and was all assembled I looked around our house and said to G “it doesn’t feel like our home”. I wanted to sit at our dining table, I wanted to see the framed Libyan wedding jewellery and the big blue bowl that had been with us everywhere. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but when people came to the house I would find myself explaining what we’d left behind “we have this great dining room table, but it’s back in Australia”.

Really? Who cares?

I drove G crazy. Every time he’d suggest having a group over to dinner I’d say the house wasn’t up to it. I found excuses, we didn’t have the right table, we didn’t have enough plates, when really the underlying problem was I wasn’t house proud. Which is just dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Some of the prettiest houses are filled with the ugliest people.

We bought some new plates (I love my new pink plates, that’s them up the top), some new cutlery and little bits and pieces, but more importantly I finally got over myself. Our house is just fine and I’m a tosser for thinking otherwise.

Last night we had ten people come over for dinner. In the afternoon G and I stood in the kitchen together and cooked, we argued over time constraints, did some passive aggressive mumbling and nearly divorced over entree plates, and then we sat down to a really fun evening. This morning we began planning the menu for next weekend and the weekend after.

I like the other stuff, but I can live without it.

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