This post is a little overdue, but I’m finally taking a moment to sit down and reflect on my trip to the States last month. Though I was excited for the trip, I took with me a load of fears and nervousness… I was afraid it would be too hard to say goodbye again when it was time to come back to Germany. And, truth be told, I think my husband feared it more than I did. He understands the sacrifices I made to come here and I think a small part of him worries I’ll change my mind someday and go crawling back to America. I worried it would break my heart to see my dog again since I knew I couldn’t explain to her why I left in the first place. I worried my baby niece wouldn’t remember me or care I was there. In other words, my heart and mind were overloaded with those dreadful “what if” questions that I spend so much time and effort trying to avoid.
We flew into Chicago because it was 1/3rd the cost of flying into my hometown in Arkansas. It was my first time in Chicago and I didn’t much care for it. Truthfully, though, I think the problem was that I didn’t have enough time there. We arrived Wednesday afternoon, took a bus tour of Chicago on Thursday, and left early Friday morning to drive to Memphis, Tennessee. Chicago seems like a fascinating city with endless things to do, but trying to do it in one day was so stressful that I couldn’t relax and enjoy it. My husband, however, thought it was fantastic.
Friday’s trip to Memphis was incredibly long. We checked into our hotel at 2:00 Saturday morning, slept just a few hours, and drove downtown for our Backbeats Bus Tour at 11:00. The tour was fantastic and Memphis is much less crowded than Chicago so I felt more comfortable there. After the tour, we hung out in Memphis for another 5 or 6 hours before driving another 6 hours through pouring rain to my mom’s house. Being home was so wonderful. Except in that moment, I knew it wasn’t home anymore, and it honestly felt amazing to know that my heart had officially established it’s home in Germany. We spent the week taking short hikes and visiting parks and lakes and wonderful towns like Eureka Springs, Arkansas. My nieces were thrilled to see me. The baby let me snuggle her to sleep one night and we had water balloon fights and ate snow cones and enjoyed every second of our time together.
I saw my dog on Thursday. My cousins lovingly welcomed her into their home when I moved away. I cried like a baby when I saw her. I never expected to be such a mess, but she was my constant companion for 7 years and letting her go was more difficult than I’d ever imagined it would be. She was 12 years old and she died a few weeks after we got back to Germany. She didn’t seem to suffer. She just went in her sleep. I cried for nearly two days straight, and I’m so happy I got to see her one last time. She was really happy with her new family.
The entire purpose of our trip was to go to my little sister’s high school graduation. One of the first things she asked when she found out I was moving to Germany was, “You’ll come home for my graduation, right?” I promised her I’d do everything in my power to make it happen, but in the end, it was my husband who paved the way for us to afford the trip and I’m so grateful for him. As soon as the processional music began, I was a mess of tears. I was 12 when she was born and now she’s all grown up. I had flashbacks of the day she was born and the sparkle in my dad’s eyes as he peered at her through the nursery window. And then came the sharp stab of reality that our dad died way too soon two years ago and would miss every big event in her life. I’m proud of that kid. She’s overcome a lot in her short life.
On Monday it was time to drive back to Chicago to catch our flight out on Tuesday. It was an excellent trip, but we were both looking forward to being back home in Germany. Now that my home is here, I feel more comfortable here than in the States, and in a way, that makes me a little sad, but I know it’s extremely healthy.
Since we’ve been back, we’ve celebrated our 1 year anniversary, 7 days later my husband’s birthday, and 21 days after his birthday was my birthday. We spent our birthdays in Austria and had a wonderful time. You can’t do that in America! 🙂