As I write, I’m sitting on the balcony of my new apartment and enjoying the fresh air and smell of blooms from the nearby trees. I see the bees burrow into the wood and hear the birds singing their evening melodies. In approximately 34 hours I’ll be on a plane headed for America. It’s been nearly one year since I’ve been there and the upcoming trip has me reminiscing over the past year of my life here in Germany.
Perhaps I’m remembering things the wrong way, but as I think back about my first day here, I realize how much of a wreck I was. A new husband. A new home in a new country. A new language. A new culture. No family. No friends. No job. No familiarity, and the fear of the unknown. That’s enough to get anyone a little worked up.
I remember my husband having to order everything for me at restaurants and me having minor meltdowns whenever I had to do anything business-related. And I remember my amazingly understanding and gentle husband tolerating my outbursts like a father handling an upset toddler. Everything was so new and I could hardly care for myself.
Today I had to make a run to an office I can’t pronounce to turn over my Germany driver’s licence and pick up my Arkansas license so I’d have it for our trip. I can’t tell you the amount of pride that welled up within me for going there without my husband. Afterwards, I went to McDonald’s since we’re low on food due to our upcoming trip. I ordered “Ein Big Mac menu mit cola, bitte, und das ist alles.” Maybe I used the wrong form of “ein.” I don’t know, and frankly I don’t care so much. What put a smile on my face was that the guy understood me immediately and I understood him, too. These small accomplishments may seem insignificant, but to me, they are everything.
My understanding of German has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few months. Over the weekend, we met up with two of our previous neighbors while taking a stroll through the forest of our old village. Both spoke to me in German and I understood them! I wasn’t sure if my husband recognized all of this. He’s always so busy going from German to English that sometimes he doesn’t even recognize what language is being spoken. He just knows he understood it. I didn’t want to toot my own horn so I waited for him to bring it up later. He said, “Honey! I’m so proud of you! People spoke to you in German and you completely understood! I can’t believe it!” These minor victories keep me going!
Over the last few weeks I’ve come to realize how truly at peace I am here. I don’t miss the United States. I miss my friends and family, but I now understand how unattached I am to my home country. Germany is my home now, and I like my life here.
I’m excited to go back to the States. I’ll be a blubbering mess when my baby sister walks across the stage to receive her high school diploma. I was 12 when she was born and now that little baby is 18. I can hardly wait to squeeze my nieces and stay up late chatting with my mom, but I know I’ll be happy to be back home in Germany, too.
Much has changed in the last year. I’m stronger, more confident, and certainly more cultured, and because of the greatest man I’ve ever known, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Life is good and I am at peace.