Hello Friends, I have been fairly quiet here on my blog these last few weeks but for a very very good reason. The winds of change are blowing and after four years of living abroad in southern Germany, we are moving back to Chicago. It has taken all our time and energies to sort through our feelings as well as our belongings. We are excited to get back home but at the same time we are sad to be leaving Germany and especially our new home in Esslingen. And it has all happened in a very short period of time, we will be flying back at the end of the month.
When we first arrived here we had no idea how hard it was going to be. Learning the ropes has meant discovering by trial and frequent error that there are many, many differences between life in Germany and life in the US. In addition to learning a new language, telling time in 24 hour format (what we call military time), how to dress when its 17 degrees outside (sounds cold to us but in celsius that’s quite pleasant) we also had to learn a million little things, like recycling every scrap of everything we throw away, in color coded bins which get picked up by assorted trucks on varying schedules. Every scrap of food is composted, every piece of paper, every can, bottle, plastic tub, and tetra pack has its proper place. But we also had to adjust to a new culture. There are huge differences in the way people interact, and its not always as easy to communicate as simply repeating some previously studied words.
Then there was homesickness, which creep up on you at times, and I’ll be the first to admit that I had severe bouts of homesickness which over the past couple years have gotten fewer and farther between. In the last two years we adapted quite nicely to life here, and we will miss our routine. Waking up in the morning and riding my bike to the market a few times a week is so much more enjoyable than driving to a supermarket and filling the trunk with 2 weeks worth of food. Riding home through the old vineyards was much more scenic than driving past strip malls and superstores. One of the highlights of my day was packing up lunch and meeting my husband at his office, and walking together to the river where we would sit on a park bench and enjoy our lunch before grabbing a scoop of ice cream. I really love our lunchtimes together.
As I think back over the last four years I realize that we have come a long way and if I could go back to the day Jason asked me what I thought about moving to Germany, this is what I would say to myself.
“This is a great opportunity for both of you. You will learn new things about yourselves and you will grow from that and it will make you stronger. There will be lots of great times that you will always remember. Silly times you will always laugh about. Those special moments when you wish you could freeze time. You will visit many countries and experience their cultures, and you will learn a lot about European cuisine, and pick up new tastes and develop new habits. You will learn how to live a simpler life, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and take time to experience things properly, a life without the need to take your blackberry to bed at night. You and Jason will learn that even after thirteen years together, there is still much to learn about each other You will grow even closer even though you can’t imagine how that is possible. So say yes, go live in Germany, because it will be worth it. There will certainly be hard times but it will be worth it.”
Many years ago in our tiny Chicago apartment we ordered Chinese take-out and one of the fortune cookie fortune said “You will set foot on the soil of many nations” which of course at that time seemed far-fetched but sounded nice. Now maybe a decade later, it has come to be true.
Today the sun is shining and as I’m looking out the window across the valley I realize how much I will miss the beauty of this place, the many times Jason and I sat on the boat dock across the street and sailed his model boats while soaking up the sun and sharing a bottle of wine, or enjoying a little picnic. I will miss our favorite bakeries, and the nice people we’ve gotten to know who work at the farmer’s market, even the waiters at our favorite Italian bistro, who always wave to us when we walk past. But most of all.. we will miss our friends.
There are still many boxes left to pack and all of the little details that have to be dealt with before an international move. We are looking forward to being close to our families and friends again and also to our next adventure, whatever that may be. But I promise you, once we are settled in you will hear from me again and until then, follow me on Facebook for small conversation.
Auf Wiedersehen Esslingen. We will always remember our time here and we will certainly come back to visit…
*Note: In the first image our home is the yellow house peeking out through the trees in the center right. The one off by itself.