Now that we are all singing along, let me please wish you a very happy Monday! This post is not about musicals, or the weather, but instead, is another post about what a difference a week makes. Last Monday, I felt rather gloomy and more than a little sad being so far away from everyone that I care about except for Mike. It seemed like nothing was really going right, or well for that matter. Of course, that was before I had the most wonderful rote lampe, but it was also before this weekend, which was so lovely there are scarcely words to describe it!
Weekends are almost always the best parts of one’s week, n’est pas? This weekend offered me several pleasures, one of which was….
A trip to IKEA!
And a “sit-in” at Starbucks!!
The most fabulous part, though, was that we had an invitation (that’s right, kids, someone in Germany knew that we existed and invited us!) to a dinner party on Saturday night. A good friend of mine’s brother and sister and law (Americans) have been living here in Germany for near to 18 months, and they are preparing to leave Germany to return to the US, and hosted a dinner party for several people they had befriended during the course of their stay (also all Americans living in Germany, some for as many as 22 years). And Mike and I, whom they had never met. I have a deep and abiding love for people willing to invite folks over that they have never met to join a dinner party at this point. I am not sure from exactly which spring my excitement and gratitude started: was it just in getting to talk to other people who spoke my language (who weren’t the other 3 people I interact with each and every day)? Was it the opportunity to learn a few tips on settling into a country from people who knew exactly what I was going through? Was it simply the opportunity to spend time sitting on a couch that wasn’t mine looking at walls that weren’t mine eating a home cooked meal that I hadn’t cooked alone? On a scale of 1-10, I would have rated each of these factors at least a 10, but all together? I was willing to completely ignore Mike’s lack of enthusiasm for this event (he primarily saw the potential awkwardness of going to dinner at someone’s house that we had never met) and dive headlong into the potential awesomeness. [It isn’t often, either as a therapist or as a human being that I’m willing to completely ignore someone’s feelings, so I think that this is saying a lot, and it isn’t that I’ve turned into a callous wench in the last 5 weeks!]
I’d prepared a roasted vegetable dish (EVEN found a sweet potato to do so… no small task, my friends, as sweet potatoes are somewhat rare in these parts) to contribute to the potluck, and honestly, I was kind of excited to eat that, too. When preparing food for other people, it is easier to feel creative, or even just to put more work in. I even looked up a recipe. I didn’t follow that recipe, but I looked it up. [As a side note, for those of you that I haven’t ever lived with, I am really terrible about following recipes. I use them more as a spring-board than as a rule. Even when baking. I know. You aren’t supposed to do that, but I do. And it works, most of the time. I just don’t screw around with some of the basic parts of a baking recipe, and it’s all good. Don’t tell Julia. Wait… Actually, go ahead and tell Julia. I think she’d be ok with it!] Even looking a recipe up is a stretch for me… I fancy myself a bit of an inventor when I get in the kitchen! [Which, in our apartment, is also the living room. So… I fancy myself a bit of an inventor most of the time these days! Fortunately, the kitchen/living room is also right next to the bathroom, should my inventions go awry…]
Darmstadt is famous for several things, some more positive than others. Darmstadt was the first town in Germany, under Hitler, to force Jewish-owned businesses to close. (The aforementioned fact should be categorized as one of the less positive facts about Darmstadt, just to be clear.) Darmstadt is also the current home of the European Space Operations Centre, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (which, as a point of fact, must be on strike or something; our weather forecasts have been wildly off-target; it is still very cold here, don’t get me wrong, but many, many times I have been told there was a 0 or 10% chance of rain, only to end up soaking wet), and multiple other high-tech operations (they rank 3rd out of 97 regions in Germany for high-tech industry). Darmstadt is also famously home to a large center for the Jungendstil (literally translated “Youth Style”) architecture and art. We will have to make a return trip to take in these sites. We were distracted. By Starbucks. Yes, yes we were. I’m ok with that for now. Although, I would encourage you to either stay tuned for more pictures, or to do a little Google search yourself. Some of the buildings are really very interesting! Or, you can just click these links… The wedding tower or The Russian Chapel or The Ernst Ludwig House or pretty much anything on this website. I will be back, though, I am pretty sure of that (and for more than just the Starbucks, I promise).
We arrived at their home in Darmstadt, which is a little more than 30 minutes from our home in Aschaffenburg, and immediately met some of their friends who live half of each year in Petoskey, MI (for those of you from Georgia (or not Michigan), this is a popular vacation town in the north-ish part of Michigan – not in the upper peninsula, but it’s up there) and half of the year in Bavaria. Interesting, eh? This was a brief introduction, as they were scampering off on their next adventure as we arrived, but it was pretty cool to meet someone(s) right off from Mike’s home state. And then we learned that our hosts are from Ann Arbor! [Mike was feeling better and better!] The rest of the guests were connected (in some way) to our hosts through the Opera in Darmstadt. Raise your hand if you can say you went to a dinner party this week with a group of opera-folk this weekend. Anyone? Anyone? That’s what I thought!
The food was divine (butternut-apple soup, chickpea-pesto bread, macaroni and cheese, kale, my roasted veggies, and blueberry and/or peach and raspberry pies for dessert), the company was warm, funny, interesting, welcoming, and wonderful, and the night was perfect. As if there was a need to seal the deal, our hosts offered us (without hearing me rant on about the lack of fans and whatnot) a fan. She said, “I know that this will help you sleep better. Isn’t it weird that they don’t have fans here?” I’m telling you, these were my kind of people! 🙂 We gathered email addresses and phone numbers, loads of information, and a curiosity about going to the opera! We also were able to begin our Christmas preparations as they sent us on with a Christmas tree stand! “And God bless us, every one!”
All of this goodness was packed into Saturday alone! Sunday was also worth its weight in blogging, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. “Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love you…” (you know the rest…)