Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Homesick

I know from moving throughout my childhood that it takes time to get used to a new place.  It usually took me, and others, about 6 months for a place to start feeling like home.  And then when you moved again, you missed that place, too.  I've warned my children of this.  I've told them that the first friends they make might not be the ones they'll really be close to.  It takes time to find true friends.  And I know this.  I know it from personal, repeated experience.

But knowing and KNOWING are two different things, and I can't quite convince my heart to accept that things just have to be this way for a while.  It hurts, and I want the hurting to stop.  I feel like I am weighed down with a thousand pound anchor, deep in the middle of the ocean.  I smile when I'm around others.  I might even truly enjoy myself.  I'm finding ways to be useful and use my time well.  But when I'm walking through this house, especially when I'm alone now that the girls are in school, every step feels like one of those dark dreams where you keep hoping to wake up at any moment, but can't.  Every step contains within it an echo of the phrase, "This is not my home."  And it's a very lonely sound.

I know this will pass.  I acknowledge that with my mind, even if my heart stubbornly shakes its head in disbelief, that I might one day miss this place, too.  For now, though, I'm just missing my home.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Life in a New Place

Moving to Germany includes some really big changes, obviously.  There’s the whole different language issue.  There’s the super tiny roads business.  Hard to miss those things.  But there are a lot of very small changes that you don’t really think about until you are facing them and you think, “Huh.  That’s really different.”  

Things like:

  • The toilets:  Here, they stick out of the wall.  A German instructor assured us all they could hold any weight person, thanks to strong German construction.  They have two buttons, to conserve water.  A little button for little bathroom trips.  A big button for the other.  But sometimes one button is inside the other button and I’m still not sure which to press first.

    Bathroom


  • The evening light:  It stays light until almost 10pm here right now.  Conversely, it’ll get dark by like 4 in the winter.  We are much further north than we were, so the sun has more extreme patterns.  I didn’t see that coming.  Fortunately, there are such things as:
  • Rolladens.  These are metal outer coverings on the windows that can totally blacken a room.  Nice.
  • Windows:  These rarely if ever have screens.  This kills me.  But the windows open two ways that’s coolT:  tilt, which opens the top inward and open, which swings them wide open into the house.  You have to let German houses breathe, because they don’t have air conditioning.
  • No AC.  That’s right. No AC.  It can get up to 90 in the summer, but only a few weeks, so they don’t bother updating all their old buildings with AC.  There are only a few places that have it.  But honestly, compared to the heat of San Antonio, I rarely have felt hot here.
  • Everything closes early.  If it’s past 6pm, too bad for you unless you live close to post.  There are some stores there that are open later and one 24 hour shopette, I hear.  But the German businesses, except the restaurants, close around 6.  The one little stoplight in this village turns off slightly after that, too, because there’s just so little traffic. 
  • Cell phone coverage—it’s awful.  They blame the thick German buildings, but I don’t care.  I just know I’m paying a lot for a premium cell plan and half the time, my calls don’t go through and I miss calls from my husband all the time.  We mostly use FB Messenger, even though there are all those posts about how evil it is.  It uses wifi, which works far better than the cell phone coverage.
  • Trash:  There are four different trash cans in our kitchen>  FOUR.  One for compost, one for paper/cardboard, one for plastics and metals and one for everything else.  If you fill up your “everything else” trashcan, you have to buy extra red bags of shame to put out by your trash or they won’t pick it up if it’s overflowing your garbage can.  And they only pick it up every other week.  One week, they’ll pick up one or two types, and then alternate.  So we have had an old chicken carcass in our fridge for a week and a half, waiting for when they will pick up the “everything else” trash, because meat can’t go in compost and it would stink and draw animals if we set it out already.
  • German washer/dryers.  I hear a lot about how efficient they are.  The washers heat their own water, so they don’t attach to a hot water pipe.  But because of that, one load of wash takes 2 and a half hours.  And they hold 1/3 less of what an American washer does. And then they tell me how efficient they are.  And I can only think, “How is spending four times the time and twice the loads efficient?”  I mean, sure, one load of German wash might take less energy.  But I have to do twice as many loads to fit in all my stuff and do laundry twice as often because you can’t fit as much stuff in them and they take twice as long to run…how is that more efficient?  We were told yesterday that within a few years, even the base here will stop offering American style washer/dryers to us.
  • German refrigerators—These are tiny.  Like, super tiny, because many Germans apparently shop every day.  (Again…this does not feel efficient to me.)  We are trying to find a home so we can get an American sized fridge to put in our kitchen, too.  


But the spaces here are tiny and with good reason. 

Germany is the size, essentially, of Montana.  Montana holds slightly less than 1 million people.  GERMANY holds…want to guess?  Make a guess.  I’ll wait.

On Rhine River cruise
Okay, ready?  Germany holds about 81 MILLION people.  In the space of Montana.  So they have to have small houses, small roads, small parking lots, etc, to fit everyone and keep so much of their beautiful green land.  And it is green and beautiful here, for sure.


More to come of the adventures in Germany!