It is such a different thing to go back home than it is to embark on a journey, n’est pas? We have exactly 2 weeks, and as many adventures as we can squeeze into those two weeks, left on our time in Germany. I am woefully behind on documenting our adventures here, I’m afraid, but this post was the one that wanted to be written. Needed to be written, if you will. This post is an in-the-moment, real-time thought, exploding on the internet. Good times, you say? Just wait!
I remember so clearly setting up this blog: sitting at my dining room table, not really noticing how comfortable I was sitting at the same table that I’d grown up with (my parents’ table from my youth now sits in our dining room in Atlanta), taking for granted how much I really like MY curtains (the ones that came with this apartment here in Germany leave, shall we say, a little bit to be desired), and really and truly unable to imagine what my life would look like in this European lifestyle. I’d been to Germany before… 2 (or 3, I can’t really remember, if that tells you about how “important” the experience was for me) days in Munich, a layover in Frankfurt, that kind of thing. Looking back, I’m not sure any of that counts, really. My point is that I was completely unprepared. I really like structure – routines are my friends! Change? Not so much… I was felt a bit like I was heading into complete and total chaos… I was remarkably ok with that, though. Call it a growth experience. It stuck. I’ve grown. Let there be no question about that!
As I was preparing to leave, my friends had many varying predictions of how life would be upon our arrival in fair Deutschland. There were those who felt (accurately) concerned about my language skills and how communication would fare. As a therapist, I’m fairly well-trained in reading more than just the verbal input into a conversation, though, so I thought that between my Rosetta Stone and the classes I was going to take, not to mention the immersion experience, I would be communicating out the wazoo. Well… I did have a nice little (emphasis on little) base with the Rosetta Stone I’d done, and the classes were helpful, but when Germans who know English have the opportunity to practice, they won’t hesitate to do so! Even in the face of a well-intended Deutsche attempt… 😦 And those who don’t know English? Well… Let’s just say their non-verbal (or at least beyond vocabulary) communication is radically different from much in the way of American non-verbal communication. I found their tone, body language, volume, and facial expressions all to be remarkably different (in a not-necessarily readable to my American-trained eye, or at least not accurately readable). But… it somehow has all worked out. Thank goodness.
Other friends became nearly dreamy in thinking about the likely adventures ahead of me… The art, they would say! The history! The beauty of the land! I certainly hope this paragraph isn’t offensive to anyone, because I’m not intending this statement to be judgmental. It is, as they say, what it is (and with fairly good reason, historically speaking). The art scene that I have come across has had fits and starts of beauty, creativity, or attractiveness, but here in Germany? It generally hasn’t been all that. Certainly not on the whole, anyway. I’ve loved many of the stained glass windows (and have the pictures to prove it), but religious art sometimes depresses me, and the modern art I’ve seen here has been disturbing (graphic blood and gore, which totally isn’t my scene, or overtly sexual images which don’t really.. uh um, ring my bell). Perhaps after a time, I started avoiding art in general, which totally isn’t like me at all, but that was another prediction that most definitely came in sub-par. The history, though… holy cow! Believe it or not, I’ve never been a very history-minded person. I appreciate that people (as a global whole) have overcome a lot, and have paved the way for the relatively pampered life I live today, but I never felt like it was especially real for me. Until I moved here. Sheesh! I think that has changed my perspective on the historical influences of my day-to-day forever. I now want to know how something came to be, and can appreciate so much more because of this. The beauty of the land? On a day like today, I feel bad saying this (gorgeous blue sky, pleasant temperatures), but the weather has been a severe buzz-kill on my esteem for the landscapes in Germany. It IS a beautiful country, and there is almost no end to the small facets of earth and itty bitty towns in which one can take it all in. Just this past week, for example, a friend from the US was visiting me (yay!!!) and we took a little jaunt to Berlin. On the way back (and I should point out that I DROVE A STICK SHIFT ALL THE WAY THERE, HANDLED THE PARKING (in the tiny little spots that somehow pass as parking spaces in these parts), AND DROVE ALL THE WAY BACK… BY MYSELF!!!), the GPS rerouted us through a speck of a town, up and down mountains that came out of nowhere, through herds of sheep and cows, and along fabulous rolling meadows. Thank you, GPS! Even though you added an hour to our trip time, I would have never seen that little corner of Germany without that detour (not that I’d ever be able to find it again, either, but that is another story). Bottom line, though, as my faithful readers are all too aware, there was MUCH TOO MUCH NASTINESS in the WINTER THAT WOULD NOT END for me to really be able to say that I enjoyed the beauty of the landscapes. I’m trying to cram that in, but it may be too little too late. The pain of this winter runs deep and wide in my memory.
Some of the other comments and predictions are things I’ll save for later, perhaps when we are “re-integrating,” (which I hear is harder than integrating, but right now that is really hard to imagine). There is one other one that I wanted to bring to the light of day, however. An untold number of people predicted something along the lines of moving to Germany was going to somehow prompt me to start having babies (“German babies,” some said, to which I usually felt some reaction along the lines that they would be no more German than if we had babies in America (both Mike and I have some genealogical roots from the generally German area)). When people made their predictions, whether about art or communication, I usually had some feelings along the lines of “we’ll see” or “I hope so.” The baby business? It kind of offended me, to tell you the truth. I’m not sure entirely why, but I think it had to do with the assumption that if I wasn’t working in a real job, surely I would start the all-important business of procreation. As if those were the only two things I could do that would be of value… (and I will be the 1st to admit that this reaction says WAY more about me than it does anyone who may have been excited about the prospect of a tiny Dine – I’m very sure that nobody in my world would really think that at all.) I don’t think I ever responded overtly with any kind of defensive reaction, but internally? I assure you it was there. Just to be contrary, in fact, I had the thought that even if Mike and I decided to have kids, I would make sure that it wasn’t during this particular time, just to show people… Well…. you probably know where this is going… We aren’t having a “German” baby, but in another 3.5 months, our wee family will number 3. Baby Girl will hopefully make her happy and healthy debut in early-mid September 2013 (in America, btw, no German-birthed babies as best as I can count) ! So… yes… I’ve grown. Emotionally, spiritually, and quite obviously physically.
I’ve been a bit reluctant to be overly public about the whole thing – obviously, I suppose, at this point in the game. The nice thing about being here is that I really haven’t had to be! There is almost no danger of running into people here, and it was really nice to live in a space where I could have a truly private life.
Needless to say, I’ve decided to shut my mouth (and silence my mind) when people say “oh, just you wait, you’re going to blah, blah, blah… fill in the blank” (and isn’t it interesting how many people will feel free to say things like that, most of all to a pregnant lady?). I have been reminded loudly and clearly that I do not, in fact, call the shots around here. Even when I think I am… Nosirrreeebob. Sometimes, it bears mentioning, that God’s ideas are better than mine (and a lot more likely to happen). There are some in my family who have taken to calling Baby Girl “Bon Jovita” until a more suitable name is found (Mike strongly objects, however, so we’ve been simply referring to her as “Baby,” which has led Mike to suggesting the name “Babette” so that we can continue to call her Baby and no one would get confused…). I foresee that none of these nicknames will stick, but they are a very good reminder of how quickly life can change – remembering how my sister’s circumstances changed so quickly (the discovery of which I attribute to Bon Jovi), and in turn, how dramatically things have changed for Mike and I. Needless to say, even after the adventures for which this blog is named come to a close, the real adventure is only just beginning! Baby is still working on those infamous verbal communication skills, but her nonverbals are loud and clear right about now, and she wants to say hello to all of you, I think (she is extremely non-verbally communicative, however, and appears to have lots of opinions, many of which are relative to my computer use and my dietary intake; the trouble is, I’m not really sure (kind of like those Germans with their non-verbal communication) when I’m getting a pleased reaction or a really angry one)!
I will resume documenting our actual European adventures momentarily. I’m so far behind I am not even sure of what is yet to be covered here! We’ve been on so many wonderful trips and weekends… stay tuned! I know that Dresden, Vienna, Munich, Rüdesheim (which you may never have heard of before, but I promise, if you come to Germany, you would want this lovely town on your itinerary, even if there isn’t a Harley Davidson Festival and Ride in town), and more have yet to be shared. I’ll get there. And probably more! This coming weekend, we’re heading to Prague (God-willing and the creek don’t rise, as they say, but perhaps especially now that should be taken literally given the recent flooding there), and we’re going to squeeze in a venture to Normandy. All 2.5 of us. (For those of you who may have experienced pregnancy for yourselves, I hear that one of the major differences between my recent experience and an American pregnancy at this point is that while people aren’t patting my belly or asking me intrusive questions, staring seems to absolutely normal here… as my lovely friend said, I’m a unicorn! A special, magical unicorn… and a unicorn walking around would be stared at, right?)