Certain things you do in your expat life don’t seem so strange at all until you stop and realize what you’re doing. And then it hits you: What a crazy life! What am I doing? For your entertainment, here’s one such mad moment I experienced while living abroad.
The Case of the Lost Skirt
Ghana, West Africa. The tropics. It is a steamy hot day (what else is new) and I am looking for my black wool skirt. I look through my closets. Not there. I look in the other closets in the other bedrooms. It’s not there. I look through the suitcase storing my winter clothes. It’s not there. I want my black wool skirt! I love my black wool skirt! Where is my black wool skirt? I stand in front of the window and try to think. To remember where I was when I wore it last. To wait and see if the universe will give me a clue.
Outside near the servants’ quarters I see baby Emilia sitting in a plastic tub, getting her daily bath, assisted by her cousin. It’s very hot, did I mention that? Staring at the little scene gives me no secret clues. The universe doesn’t care about my black wool skirt, whether I live abroad or not. It has more important issues to deal with. (War, pestilence and the heartbreak of psoriasis.)
What is wrong with me, you ask?
Let me explain about my black wool skirt, BWS for short. It works for me like a good pair of jeans. I can wear it anywhere– dress it up, dress it down. You know what I mean. I cannot live without it. If I have no BWS, I have no clothes, nothing to wear. It’s the perfect traveling skirt because it does not wrinkle. It is the perfect traveling skirt for winter travel that is, for wearing in cold weather. There is no cold weather in Ghana. So what am doing looking for my BWS?
I want it, of course, because I am packing for a trip to colder climes. It is December and I’m going to Holland and the USA to visit family, friends and the mammogram machine. (The latter encounter a yearly joy.)
Maybe, by mistake, I left my BWS at my mother’s house in Holland last March. So I call her. “Heb ik mijn zwarte rok bij jou laten liggen?” I ask. She says she’ll look, comes back to the phone and tells me, no, my black skirt is not in the guest room anywhere.
I call my daughter in Virginia, USA, where it’s early morning and snow is falling. “Did I leave my black wool skirt hanging in the closet?” I ask. She says she’ll look, comes back to the phone and tells me, no, my black skirt is not in the closet in the guest room.
This is not good news!
What am I going to do without my BWS when I visit the arctic climes up north? I have nothing to wear if I don’t have my skirt to dress up or dress down (other than jeans but I don’t look good in jeans). I‘ll have nothing to wear to go to a restaurant, or to Christmas dinner, or a party. Quelle catastrophe!
In despair I go through my tropical closets again. Last is the guest bedroom. The air conditioning is not on because the room is not in use. It is a sauna in there. I search and search, sweat pouring down my face and back, but my BWS is not to be found here in Ghana. It has to be in Holland, or the US. It has to be!
I turn to leave the room, catch my reflection in the mirror. I look like a mad person, my hair standing out in peaks, my face red and sweaty, my eyes wild.
And then it hits me: I’m missing a skirt, and I’m searching for it on three continents. Three continents. How bloody idiotic is that?
They say expat life will change you. It can drive you crazy. Clearly, here’s proof.
Okay, yes, my skirt and I were re-united. My daughter e-mailed me some time later to tell me she found it after all. She’d hung up some ghastly purple maid-of-honor creation in the guest room closet (for storage and never to be worn again), and my skirt had been shoved to the deep dark back, unseen and rendered invisible.
Years later now, I still have this skirt. We will grow old together. Dressed up and dressed down.
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Are you willing to confess your mad moments? Go ahead, make my day and hit that comment button at the top of the post!
Oh great you got your ‘zwarte rokje’ back. I am a scarfohollic and always trying to find the right scarf and the one I need is of course missing.
Feedburner is giving me problems. Please check you’ve received my latest masterpiece describing my bizarre wedding in Kenya. My new url is https://www.lifeintheexpatlane.com (no more blogspot) @ Mary, yes, some clothes become part of the family… hope you managed to stop eating chocolate cup cakes. Try wine! @ ann chin: the expat life requires certain skills and attitudes to make it a success, you are right. Did you like Singapore? I lived in Ghana twice for a total of 7 1/2 years. I’m in the US now waiting to hear about moving to another country. @ Rachel: A tracker with… Read more »
I know how you feel! I hate wondering if I have it at my place, at my MIL’s in the country, or if I left it at my parents in the states! Sometimes I think I need a little tracker on my clothes. That way I could press a button and they’d beep somewhere in the world
Thank you for visiting.
It is a coincidence that I have just reconnected with my friend from Ghana. We were both ex pats in Singapore when our husbands were lecturing in the university.
There are things we as expats understand to live a harmonious life. Do as the Romans do, even if you feel that it infringes your liberty.
How long are you in Ghana for?
What can you do? You like what you like, and with clothes in particular, we get attached and they become like old friends…
As for mad moments, I’ve been having a long continuous one today. I’ve been trying to do some travel writing all day, which consumes me completely. I’m sure you understand that. The result now is that I can’t stop eating chocolate cupcakes. It’s a serious compulsion. I’ve had 4 already and as soon as I write this comment, I’m heading to the kitchen for a 5th. They will probably be my dinner tonight.
@ Teri, what a great story to find 50 euros in a book! You probably found something to do with it in Europe 😉 @ Brinkbeest: Precies! Some clothes are like family 😉 @ GutsyWriter: Your mother put wool on you in Nigeria?? You poor thing! @ Welshcakes Limoncello: Don’t lose your collection of recipes! Mine aren’t all saved digitally, so I carry a big notebook in my hand luggage when I move. Really should get them uploaded, but you know, time …. @ Madame DeFarge: Looking for lost share certificates around midnight — perhaps a ghost is playing hide… Read more »
Somehow I manage to search for items that I just saw. Any kind, really. The sillier the item, the better it seems to be at hiding itself away for me. And what I cannot begin to comprehend, is that it infallibly pops up at a spot where I looked for it to begin with!! I do believe a Black Hole exists somewhere and keeps items for a shorter or longer period of time, if only to keep me humble.
I sooo know what you mean! Like every expat reading this post, I suppose… I’ve gone through the same a couple of times, trying to remember where I was the last time I wore something… Sometimes it’s a garment that I haven’t missed in months, of course, considering that I go back and forth between the northern and southern hemisphere, so what I wear in Argentina, I won’t be likely to use for an entire half year back in Holland… and sometimes not even, considering how short summers are here. But I hate it when I decide I want a… Read more »
Oh, I feel for you! I get the same kind of craziness if I lose something… usually my keys!
I have yet to experience anything similar; but hey, I am new to expat game 🙂
Thanks for stopping by my blog!
With me, it tends to be share certificates, around midnight usually. I have been known to empty every drawer in the house just to find them. Drives himself up the wall.
I spent half of Saturday searching for a pair of jeans and a flannel shirt that have been with me on three islands. We were finally reunited, but it was touch and go there: I was POSITIVE one of my daughters had worn then, gotten them stained, then hidden them away to keep the awful truth from me. (I’m not all that paranoid: there have been precedents.) Two years ago, we went to half a dozen butchers’ shops in Cyprus, desperately searching for something even remotely similar to haggis, to help our acquired daughter, a Scot, celebrate Burns’ night. We… Read more »
She did not suggest making it? I once did. in Indonesia of all places! Our expat community made our own entertainment, celebrating whatever event we could think of. So we had a Burns night, but only one Scott, so we got a recipe and various people made it in a baking dish rather than the animal-product casing. 😉
Ack! This sounds like me. Of course, losing something at the CatLady’s house is a regular occurrence… something to do with the clutter. Can’t imagine looking for something beyond the confines of my small home, let alone on three continents!
Oh yes, I so know what you mean. I had the best jeans ever. Wore them untill they almost literally fell off my butt. Still makes me feel quite sad thinking about them. Silly of course. I know. You can get so attached to clothes that make you feel good.
Loved the story and I can certainly identify with it!
I do not own anything in wool. I hate wool, as I had a bad experience in Nigeria as a child when my mother wanted me to put on this Swiss itchy woolen, Heidi-like dress. Funny story.
Not quite like your story, but I thought perhaps I was going just a wee bit loony. I traveled to Bosnia for a couple weeks and before leaving bought several used books here in Tennessee, US. (Had to have something to entertain myself with for the hours on the plane). One when in my backpack and the other in my suitcase. The suitcase book was wrapped in plastic because I didn’t want the pages to get messed up in shifting. On the way back I pull the book, still in plastic, and dropped it in my pack. When I opened… Read more »
I can so relate, although I never had to look for anything on three continents. But if I were in the position you were in, I bet it would have happened to me.
The only slightly mad moment I’ve had in recent years was buying a book I already had. I knew I had it and bought it anyway. Because I couldn’t find the the one I already had. Come to think about it, I wonder where the new copy is. Oh no…
Try under the bed!