It’s been six months since I left Germany, and I’m stunned.
Not only has it been six months- I’ve also officially lived in Colorado longer than I lived in the beautiful Deutschland. My mind is reeling.
The transition to Colorado has been far easier than expected. It’s so outdoors-y here. I speak the local language. All the little things I missed about the States- non-irradiated milk, romaine lettuce, streaming Netflix and Hulu, up-to-date radio stations, bed sheets being available in sizes I’m used to- are suddenly available in abundance. My job is infinitely easier when I can rely on civilian resources to support my clients, and they don’t have to choose between an abusive home life and being shipped unceremoniously to America without so much as a by-your-leave. There’s no currency conversion between my rent and my bank account. I can recycle glass on Sundays and incur no one’s wrath.
Yet today, I woke up and it was all I could do to stop myself from driving up to Denver and catching the first flight back to Frankfurt. In that moment, I would’ve traded all those possessions we waited to get for six months just to set foot on European soil again. I would’ve drunk irradiated milk for months if it meant getting to return. I ached for the home we had there, however briefly.
Every time Nick and I share a bottle of wine, every time we watch a movie in French or German or Czech or Italian, the loss of our European life hits us and we wind up talking for hours about how to move back. Nick could transfer within his company. One or both of us could teach English. I could get a job with an anti-trafficking NGO. We could give up our jobs, sell our belongings, give away the cat, pack our six-day backpacks, and become nomads. Anything.
Bringing ourselves back to reality after these semi-drunken plans is never easy.
There’s something about living in other countries that gets to you, no matter how briefly you’re there, and you’re never the same afterward. You might go back to a familiar lifestyle, familiar customs, familiar laws- but there will always be that tiny voice in the back of your head that says, “In [insert country here], we didn’t do it this way.” It sneaks up on you. We go to a restaurant where the waitstaff checks in every five minutes, and all I want to do is shout, “Can’t you see we’re EATING? Stop RUSHING us!” And I hate buying rolls in the grocery store, instead of from a bakery. And is there ANYWHERE in Colorado where we can find doner kebabs and haloumi?
They’re tiny things. Most of the time I don’t notice them. But every now and then there’s a flash of irritation, or a moment of desire, and it’s clear that Germany- and the European continent- got into my blood. I may only have been an ex-pat for a few months, instead of the years I’d planned, but now it begs the question: do I ever go back to being a pat again?
The last time we shared wine, Nick and I made a pact. Sometime in the next five years, when we’re ready to leave Colorado but before we settle somewhere permanently, we’re trying again. We’ll sell our stuff, or put it in storage. We’ll load up our backpacks and maybe a suitcase or two. We’ll purchase tickets to Frankfurt-am-Main airport. We’ll jet back to the place we had to abandon so abruptly. And I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to come back.