Tuesday, June 11, 2013

One year in Germany

One year ago today we were saying goodbye to our families and walking (sobbing…Zach, not me. Ok fine. Me.) through the airport to board our plane for Baltimore, where we would catch our military flight to Germany.

In so many ways it feels like yesterday, but in other ways it feels like ages ago. Time is funny like that.

I remember the days leading up to our departure and how incredibly stressful they were for me. Not due to external circumstances, but simply because of the energy it took for me to hold myself together through my best friend’s wedding and countless goodbyes to friends and family. I was overwhelmed. I was tired. I was excited and scared and sad and expectant. I was really tired of living out of a suitcase.

We stood in the airport trying to extend those final good-bye moments and learned that Z’s brother and sister-in-law were pregnant. I distinctly remember the feeling I had when we got that news…I was SO overjoyed, yet I felt like rocks were in my throat as I realized we would be gone for the first years of that sweet child’s life.

We hugged my other sweet sister-in-law and said goodbye to the baby in her belly…and I felt those same stabs of sadness about missing out on watching their family grow; about being the aunt and uncle so far away.

(Fast forward a year later and I’ve had the opportunity to meet my ADORABLE niece and nephew, 2 and 6 months old, on my trip back to the states last month. What a blessing. But my throat still gets a little tight when I consider how far away we are and how little we’ll be in their lives in the coming years…)

I remember the moment I lost it in the airport. It was when I went to hug my parents and in-laws. I remember standing in the security line crying the kind of cry that is painful due to the strain of trying NOT to cry.

I remember the kind security guard who offered to give our parents gate-passes so they could go all the way to the gate with us…and I remember turning him down because I couldn’t stand the thought of prolonging the good-bye all the way through the airport.

I remember landing in Germany and thinking how green and beautiful and foreign it was. I remember sitting in the military terminal waiting to hear what Z’s new assignment would be (his orders changed the day after we shipped out, so we weren’t sure where we would end up. Not stressful at all for me…right). I remember the long bus ride and how we were supposed to stop for lunch, but we never did. I remember taking in the Germany scenery and giggling at all the “Ausfahrt” signs. I remember being exhausted and feeling very, very far away.

I remember our sponsor taking us to Burger King after not having food for about 14 hours. I remember getting into our hotel and immediately using my Clorox travel wipes to sanitize the entire room. The room was super clean, but in that moment, Cloroxing everything was something I could control, so it made me feel better. I remember lying in bed that first night and marveling at how it was still light outside at 10pm.

I remember feeling jet-lagged and a little bit scared as Z left me alone in the hotel over the next few days to do his in-processing and get everything squared away for his new job, our new house, and our new life in Germany.

I remember blogging, walking around the small town, sitting in the Java CafĂ© on post, watching a LOT of movies, and seriously looking forward to getting out of the hotel room and into a home. I remember really easing into my new world here. I remember trying to accomplish just one thing each day. “Today I will go into the grocery store and look around.” Then I would retreat back to the comfort of our hotel room, my safe-zone and home-base.

I remember looking at our housing options and choosing our house…then sitting in the empty house for hours waiting for our household goods to be delivered.

I remember how unpacking those boxes of our things felt like Christmas and how good it was to set up our home. Then I remember how bored I was after that was done.

In one year we have made Germany our home. We’ve had friends and family visit (and planning more visits!). We’ve done a LOT of traveling (8 countries so far). We got our sweet German puppy. We’ve changed jobs. We’ve made friends. We survived the winter (no seriously. This deserves both recognition and celebration.)

And we’ve really fallen in love with Germany. This is home now. And while there are things we both miss about living in the States, we LOVE it here (caveat: it’s easier to talk about how much we love it when it’s not freezing cold and covered in snow.) (Additional caveat: Zach always loves it. Even the freezing-cold-covered-in-snow version. Weirdo.)

I can’t wait to see what the next 2 years hold for us…here’s to long summers and short winters, many new friends, and much more traveling across Europe!