It feels weird to call this place home in a forever kind of way.
Sure it has been ‘home’ for the past six years, but we have spent more time abroad than we have here. I now know my way around Dresden, Munich, and Berlin better than I know my way around these streets. I get lost downtown and at the grocery store.
I catch myself doing things “the German way” on the daily, without even thinking about it. I start to correct myself but between you and me, I kinda like the German way.
I rock my Jack Wolfskin hausschuhe, loud and proud, even though our home is primarily carpeted and our wood floors are heated.
This Ausländer says what she means. English is not so much about what you say, but how you say it. German on the other hand, well, it is ruthlessly and unapologetically efficient. Continually catching me off guard, I often ended conversations by picking my jaw up off the ground. And what do you know? Four years in Germany and I, too, cannot be bothered with the niceties of the English language.
On Tuesday, I caught a woman tossing a plastic water bottle into the trash. I all but tackled her and shamelessly did a little dumpster diving. Recycle, people.
Now if only I could get my hands on a radler or some apfelschorle. I mean what good is a beverage if it doesn’t fizz?
I just don’t want to do some things the American way, and you can’t make me.
As excited as I was to return home, I left Germany kicking and screaming. Odd, considering how our last four months had gone, but true.
The thought of leaving my friends, Linden’s kindergarten, the apartment we called home for three years, the place Calder was born, my favorite bakery, and even Nahkauf (though I hated that place with every fiber of my being) was too much for me to bear. I couldn’t think about leaving without erupting in a full-on sob.
I actually kept track of how many times I cried on our last day … I stopped counting at nine.
I would miss sitting at my table at the Eventcafé, sipping on my latte macchiato with an extra shot and a little Baileys. I would miss being able to hop in the car and drive 170 on the Autobahn, just 45 minutes on the A4 to Kim’s house. I would miss the fresh produce markets and having the ability to walk everywhere.
I would miss our quiet, simple little life.
It is as surprising to me as it probably is to you, but we hopped off the plane at LAX, planted our feet firmly on American soil, and haven’t looked back since. I’ll fill you in on why soon enough (gonna let ‘er rip like I did in the good old days), but what I can tell you now is that we simply are not at a place where we can look fondly back on our time in Germany.
I don’t miss it. I just don’t. Not yet.
Maybe when Tanja sends me a picture while wine tasting with Kim at the local vineyards. Maybe when Kym posts pictures of her November break adventures to her blog. Maybe when Allison and Clara post pictures to Instagram while drinking glühwein, bundled up at a game in the dead of winter.
Maybe after the dust settles.
Often against my will, I have put a lot of thought into this whole life after hockey thing. I have done my best not to build or hold on to expectations. ‘No expectations’ has been my mantra for the past six years; I literally preach that shit. But somewhere along the road to now, I slipped and unknowingly managed to create an expectation or two.
Calm. Predictable. Stable. Everything hockey is not. Weeks spent feeling important at my glamorous new job. Linden sprechen-ing sie Deutsche at his fancy German school. Weekends full of family adventures and Saturday morning cartoons in English. Too many wine nights with my girlfriends to count; picking up right where we left off.
The truth is that my reality isn’t exactly what I thought it would be and those expectations have been a grade A pain in my ass.
The truth is that life after hockey is busy and messy and the (pardon my French) hockey-related bullshit we are still dealing with doesn’t help. The truth is that I have spent most of my days at work trying to get my laptop to communicate with my docking station and my phone to not go straight to speaker every time I answer a call. The truth is that I have all but whored myself out trying to get Linden off the damn wait list and into the damn German school. The truth is that my weekends pass in the blink of an eye and come Sunday night I am left wondering where my time went and how I went two days without a shower or putting on real clothes and for the love of God, why can’t I manage to catch one episode of the Real Housewives of Orange County? The truth is that I feel a bit like an outsider within my group of friends.
But I am slowly realizing that it’s all okay. It just takes time and a little patience.
Sometimes, in the midst of it all, I lose sight of just how lucky we are.
My life may not be calm and predictable, but I am content right here.
I am happy to be forever home.