I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our past life in Germany, where I began writing this blog. I’ve always loved cooking, trying out new and challenging recipes, but while living abroad in Europe I fell in love with food culture, especially European cuisine. I taught myself to cook through trial and error in a tiny kitchen that wasn’t much larger than a closet here in the states, with a magazine or book propped up on a large pot as I translated recipes from French, German, and Italian, making them over and over until they were perfect. Whatever challenge I was facing, the kitchen was my canvas, and food was my paint.
I miss my little kitchen, I miss our German home, and I miss the life we had there. For those of you who have lived abroad, you know what I’m feeling. I went through phases of alternately loving and hating it there, but somehow I end up missing even the little things. There was a pickle factory a few blocks away and the aroma of vinegar was always in the air, we lived at the foot of a hillside vineyard and all summer long we battled fruitflies and bugs, and each may the smell of rain mixed with manure spread on the vineyards; a not completely unpleasant scent, once you get accustomed to it. Life was simple, I rode my bike to the village market twice a week to buy eggs, bread, cheese, and vegetables from the farmers who grew them, each of them becoming familiar faces, some of them eventually friends. I miss all of them, even the cranky old potato guy.
My husband and I used to meet at a park bench next to the river in the middle of town, for a lunch of sandwiches and chips, watching the growing line of customers line up at a medieval guard tower that today houses an ice cream shop. We used to refer to it as the ‘ice cream tower’, and I miss the sight of it, looming over the park. Besides work and meeting socially with friends, life was just that simple. No hustle and bustle of city life, just the two of us with our two cats in an isolation that was at first frightening but grew to be comforting in its simplicity. We learned to slow down and savor, to truly enjoy food, life, and each other. Small quarrels that seemed so big when we lived in Chicago, became insignificant once we had no choice but to instantly work them out.
One year ago today, we boarded a one-way flight back to Chicago with nothing but two suitcases and two pet carriers, and ended our 4 years of living in Esslingen. Not a single day has passed when we haven’t spoken about Germany, and the great friends we made there. We find it difficult to stay in regular contact, to be honest it is a little painful to face every day.
Today, one year later, Germany still feels like home, in our hearts, and we will always wonder when we will go back…