Goodbye Germany... for a Year.
Leaving anywhere you love is bittersweet. I never thought I'd fall so hard for Germany, but it's the best things that tend to sneak up on you. Exactly three years ago I arrived here, fresh off the boat, with only the words Strasse and Gesundheit in my lexicon. I said "Hola" to my husband's mustachioed, very Bavarian uncle. I wore a dirndl to Oktoberfest.
Three years later, I find myself fluent in a language I'd never imagined learning, married, with a baby girl, driving south to the Bavarian Alps like it was my backyard. Just a few hours from where we live in Nuremberg, this is where Luftmalerei fairy tales painted on post and beam houses, Fleckvieh dairy cows grazing in the endless green are part of the vernacular. Where lederhosen and dirndl are really a thing. Where, quite honestly, everything is as opposite as it could be from Southern California, the dry desert landscape of my original home.
And I love it.
It's our last weekend here for a year. We are leaving for the States and then a Round-the-World trip. Germany has its Elternzeit, translated directly as "parent time," an extended period of paternity leave to incentivize having children. It’s basically the best thing ever created.
Like leaving a place for good, it's the tiny details that make it hardest to say goodbye. Over time, they have become your version of "home". Being a foreigner, it's a wild ride when you realize Schweinebraten on a Sunday has become that version.
So goodbye Schweinebraten, Schaufilet, Bratwürste, Klöße, and my old “vegetarian" standby Obatzer or as my husband calls the Franconian kitchen “the best kitchen on earth”… for a year.
Goodbye cold winter, snow falling on the Christkindlesmarkt in downtown Nuremberg, the Frauenkirche hovering as a children’s choir sings Christmas songs... for a year.
Goodbye friends, neighbors, teachers, expats, moms, musicians who patiently corrected my der, die, das and are in full agreement that the German language is an unsolvable maze... for a year.
Goodbye wild gardens and Tatort, Udo Jurgens and the droning "Lo! Lo! Lo!" of the soccer (sorry, football) game on television... for a year.
Goodbye Bergkirchweih and Christmas trinkets, cobblestone streets and Holland bicycles. Goodbye to the most organized recycling center in the world… for a year.
We'll be back. We'll have changed. Germany will have changed. Sia will be walking world traveler. But isn't that what life is about? Constantly defining your version of home.