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A simultaneous “auf Wiedersehen” and “Guten tag”

Courtesy of humanitystream.org

Dear world: Ugh, I’m moving again.

As explained in my recent post for GoGirl’s one-year anniversary, the fickle nature of government contracts and work visas has resulted in my partner losing his job and, thus, his ability to live and work in Germany for the next calendar year. Useful information for anyone planning to relocate to the beautiful Deutschland: if you want to be SOFA status (work for the Americans), you can’t be in Germany when you apply. If you’re already there on a German work visa, you’ll have to go back to the States for 365 days before you’re eligible for a SOFA visa. This, right here, is why we’re relocating, so please learn from our misfortune.

Courtesy of humanitystream.org

When I say “misfortune,” I’m being as precise as possible. Neither of us really wants to leave. These are circumstances way beyond our control, and we’ve spent countless hours trying to find solutions to our immigration dilemma that allow us to stay. Unfortunately, none of them result in Nick having employment, and that’s emotionally and financially unsupportable for our fledgling life here. We’re very much at the mercy of policies that don’t really care how much we love Germany or how badly we want to stay. So our belongings will ship October 25th and we’ll fly out the next weekend. Auf Wiedersehen, Deutschland. These past five months have been beautiful, fun, and crazy, and I wish we could’ve had more time with you.

It’s hard not to think of the things we were hoping to see and do before we left. I’m leaving too early to be a part of the Christkindlmarkt, the legendary Christmas markets that appear all over Germany and Austria during the four weeks of Advent. Our plans to visit friends in Prague and London have been cancelled because these last few weekends will be spent packing, wrapping up client cases at work, and outprocessing with the military (oorah?). Nick’s heartbroken that he won’t get to show me around Metz, France, where there are beautiful churches around every corner and we can speak French in a cafe together. And of course, there are the countless friends and family who have been planning visits to Germany with the sole purpose of having us show them around who now have to find alternative accommodations and tour guides. A lot of our dreams and hopes for our life here have been stymied by this sudden turn of events, and it’s hard to imagine that our new destination- Colorado- will be as exciting and full of possibilities as Germany was supposed to be.

While at work the other day, I was talking about the move with a colleague. As someone who’s been involved with the military for many years, she has a lot of experience with what I sometimes think of as “the culture of moving”- being in a near-constant cycle of arrive-unpack-pack-leave. She sympathized with my frustrations, and then she quoted one of my favourite movies, The Sound of Music: “Where God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” In other words, one world of opportunities may be ending, but something new is starting. It’s easy to get lost in the ending, especially when it’s abrupt and undesired, but there are beautiful things to be anticipated in the beginnings ahead.

So dear world: Interestingly enough, I’m moving again. I’ll be a short car ride from Pikes Peak National Park, where Nick and I can do all kinds of amazing hiking and camping trips. My sister-in-law and her husband are excited beyond reason that we’ll be living within an hour of them, and I have plenty of extended family and friends within a short plane ride of our nearest airport. We get to learn Spanish, and vacations to Mexico will be logistically easy to plan. Since we’ve never lived west of the Mississippi, we get to explore a whole new side- literally- of the country we both call home. And on top of all that, we get to do something I’ve always wanted to do: road trip from the East Coast to our new home.

So, in the spirit of seeking the open window…guten tag, Colorado!

Erica Laue
Erica first set foot on a plane when she was ten months old. 28 years, 18 countries, and four continents later, the travel bug’s still strong in her veins, and she's become increasingly engaged with issues of power, gender, sex, equality, and access around the world.

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