On the very first day of September, I boarded a flight from Kingston, Jamaica heading back to Yakutsk. Two days later, after three flights and a long layover in Moscow during which I did nothing significant, I finally arrived back in Yakutsk to a wonderful welcome from my colleagues and from the weather.
Before I left Yakutsk for the summer, I checked out the flat I’d be assigned to upon my return. For various reasons, I wasn’t being reassigned to the flat I had lived in for the previous few months.
The newly assigned flat was perfectly fine and I noted the things that I would need to buy in order to make life there comfortable for me. I did that while I was in Denver with Emma (that was included in the five-hour mini shopping spree).
Then while I was sitting in the Moscow airport waiting to board my flight to Yakutsk, I received a message from one of my colleagues letting me know that my flat assignment had been changed.
Honestly, I wasn’t bothered. After the rat and roach infested mess of my Indonesian living experience, any place that’s clean and decently maintained is fine by me.
I don’t quibble over furniture or what’s missing from the kitchen supplies; I just work with what I’m given and try to fill the gaps that I can’t live with, like the absence of a good kitchen knife.
I responded to her message, saying that was fine with me and asking how far away from our school the new place was. I was more preoccupied with reminding her that I had left my things stored in my recently vacated flat and would need some help with moving them. She assured me that was not a problem.
I did eventually (like, several days later) get around to asking why my flat assignment had been changed and was told that it had been reassigned to a new foreign teacher who would be arriving soon, in order to cushion their adjustment to the climate. That is to say, if you’re not used to -50°C, walking three minutes to work is far different from walking even a minute longer. That was fine with me, since I like going walkabout during any season anyway.
So I arrived at the Yakutsk airport, my lovely colleagues greeted me and we got a cab to my new place. I was impressed from we hit the lobby; my comment was, “Oooohhh, so fancy!”
When I got up to my flat, I was a little bit blown away but, frankly, I didn’t really process it all until about two hours later when my colleagues had gone back to work and I had popped over to my old flat and retrieved my things with some help. It was after I showed my moving helper out that I stopped, took a breath and really looked around.
First of all, the place is fully and properly designed, furnished and decorated. Considering that the owner had moved out literally two or three days before for an extended stay overseas, this fact shouldn’t have been surprising. To my benefit, the owner not only lived in the flat – which makes a huge difference, which I’ll explain in a minute – but he is also an architect and a designer.
People, the place NICE! The care and attention to detail that he put into everything is obvious from the front door to the balcony.
Second of all, the kitchen is almost fully stocked with proper quality stuff. I recently realised that there are no baking tins, which I’ve already rectified, but other than that and a small pot, I needed to add nothing else.
Which brings me to the bedroom. For the past couple of years, I’ve been sleeping on mediocre or terrible beds. Considering that I’m a recently developed bed snob, this could have easily been a source of misery for me. But I accept that a lush bed isn’t a necessity in life; it’s a luxury.
So I sleep on whatever has been the designated bed in my assigned living quarters. Last school year, that was a futon then it was a thin mattress on a decent enough bed frame. In any case, I didn’t lose any sleep over my bed situation.
Come now to move into this flat and there’s a lovely queen sized bed with a scrumptious top quality mattress. Thank You, Jesus and amen! People, I have been sleeping like even more of a dream than I already did. Sometimes I wake up in the mornings to find myself comfortably stretched diagonally across the bed with my head buried in the mound of pillows that I’ve also inherited, and I have to thank God for the blessing of this bed.
Interestingly, back in January when I was thinking about how I wanted my 2018 to shape up, I included, “Sleep in a lush bed,” as number four on my list of seven goals. I thought I had accomplished that goal with the few hours that I spent in my San Jose hotel room king sized bed back in August, but I see that God had bigger plans for me than I had for myself!
On top of all of that, there’s a nice, compact all-flooring vacuum cleaner. This means that I’m currently on hiatus from my mop and bucket. Thank You, Jesus and amen! There’s also a comfortable couch, which means I can relax some place other than in bed. You don’t know how much this means until you live in a way where the only relaxation place you have is your bed. Blessings around every corner.
Two days after I moved in, I found myself awake in the middle of the night because of jet lag. As I stood in the kitchen surveying my living space, I felt a strong sense of gratitude for the blessing that is this flat. It really sank into my consciousness then just how well-loved my flat is by its owner, so I sent a message to my colleague asking her to convey a message to the owner that he need not worry about his place because I intend to look after it with the care that he obviously did.
It couldn’t have been easy for him to decide to rent out his masterpiece and I didn’t want him to regret that decision because of my negligence or lack of respect for his place.
This brings me to an important point that occurred to me a few days after I moved in. There’s a huge and stark difference between a flat whose purpose is rental and a flat which has recently been occupied by its owner. HUGE difference.
The first type of flat is usually furnished with any old piece of broken down crap that the owner can get away with using. It usually doesn’t have all the essentials in the kitchen, and it always has an outdated feel. The second type of flat is the opposite: the furniture is nice or at least decent, the kitchen has the essentials and the flat overall feels well maintained.
And finally on my list of wonderful things about my current flat is that my ten-minute stroll to school is filled with peace and beauty. I have to walk across a lake to get to work, via a really nice wooden suspension bridge.
I walk to work with Christian music or a sermon playing through my earphones. By the time I get to school, I’m able to start my day in a pretty mellow mood, which lasts until my first class starts, but more on that next time.
As with any place that I live in which I don’t own, I’ve been trying to keep my attachment loose. I don’t want to grieve moving when it’s time for me to go. To be perfectly honest, I’d love to keep living some place like this, where all my creature comforts are met. But I also know that if my living situation has to change again to something less well-appointed, I’ll adjust and be content there, too, because my happiness is a choice that I make and doesn’t have to depend on my surroundings or on stuff.
When I think about it, I feel that God provided this place for me because He has several things for me to give my attention to right now and He’s allowing me to be physically comfortable while I do that.
I, the LORD, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I will fill it. Psalm 81:10 (NASB)
Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the heck out of living here and I have no intention of allowing concerns about a future possibility that may not even come to pass to detract from that!