I watch from my window as the men load the last of the boxes into the truck. Somewhere on the mainland they will be crated and put on a boat, taking months to get from this city to the next. As the truck drives away I turn and look around me. Already it feels like someone else lives here. My closet is bare and my bookcases gone. My large double bed has been replaced by a short single one, the kind I slept in when we first moved here five years ago. All that's left of mine is the desk, and the lounge chair that my mother had made. These too will be taken when we leave and put into furniture storage for someone else to use. My suitcase stuffed with clothes lies open on the floor. I can't bring myself to finish packing.
I hear the vaccum and know the maid is cleaning up now that everything's been moved out. My mother's already written her a recommendation, as she did for our driver, cook, and gardener, but their future is uncertain. Everything is done by word of mouth:
"I think we're going to hire a maid, do you know any?"
"The people in 34 had a good one. Let me ask my maid for her contact info."
But they could just as easily change their mind:
"Actually, I've decided I'm going to do my own housework for a while."
And maybe the new people won't pay them as well, or give them bonuses or loans. Or maybe the new employer has a different way of doing things. Probably the new employer has a different way of doing things.
I sit on my bed that is not my bed, and wish they could come with us, so their lives would be more stable, and they would have electricity and running water on a regular basis. But that wouldn't be fair to them. Already our cook goes home to a different country every weekend to see his family, and employing them at the standards they deserve in a first-world country is simply beyond our means.
My mother comes upstairs to tell me to finish packing. There isn't much time left. We'll leave the compound tomorrow afternoon with one other couple who's taking their Home Leave.
Normally there would be a party. Normally the entire compound would gather in our house, spilling out into driveway, with food and wine and beer. Everyone would reminisce. We'd remember the night we got here, the chili cookoffs, the trips to the beach, and everyone would tell us how much fun we'll have back in a place I don't even remember. But not this time. It's the middle of the summer. The compound is practically deserted. Everyone went on vacation as soon as the school year ended. The only people left are childless couples who I barely know. It's a lonely here in the summer, and it's a lonely time to leave.