Monday, October 01, 2007

Back to Real Life: The Let-Down

I had a feeling this would happen, and it has.

I don't want to be back.

I missed Peter, Aleks and Kat hugely, so it was so great to come home to them, to their hugs and smiling faces -- and, believe it or not, to a clean house not destroyed by clandestine partying (not that there wasn't any, only that, if there was, the house wasn't destroyed by it!).

But other than that?
Eh. Yawn. Sigh.

By the time I had been in Germany for three weeks, I'd begun to feel quite at home. The language had found its way into my dreams and my every day thoughts, the daily routine had become a comfort, and I had made a bunch of new friends (Laura's family, Petra, etc.) who I so want to spend more time with and who I simply don't want to leave behind.

What made leaving even harder was the absolutely fabulous blogger meet-ups on Saturday. Did I really have to leave my Bay Area Buddy (Jen) and my dear new friend Geoffry... and J and Rich? Why couldn't I stay and get to know Christina and Blythe (and their adorable babies) better? It just seems so abrupt and so... unfair!

Elisabeth is going through similar withdrawals, but actually hers are prompting some pretty cool thoughts about her future direction in her life, some possibilities of further travel and even maybe some career opportunities.

("I wanna go back!" at 23 and "I wanna go back!" at 50 are definitely two completely different things. Ah, to be 23 again!)

On the plane, when we were feeling especially nostalgic about things we'll miss, Elisabeth and I decided that, to force a balanced perspective, we'd devise a list of things we'll miss and things we won't miss about Germany:

What we’ll miss:

1.) Fresh brotchen/semmeln with incredibly delicious cheeses for breakfast

2.) Beer. Just really fantastic beer and goes down smoooooth.

3.) Fluffy individual “bett decken” and big square pillows. (Actually, only Elisabeth will miss this, since Laura’s parents gave Tom and me a set!)

4.) Hearing German – especially as spoken by sexy German men!

5.) CafĂ© (not coffee) breaks – and eis kafee (a scoop of vanilla ice cream in coffee and milk, topped with whipped cream... devilishly good!)

6.) Our new friends – from Laura’s parents, Christiane and Berndt to Petra, to my blogging pals, Jen, J, Geoffry and gang.

7.) Showing up in a new and different city and setting off to explore the sights

8.) Trains and the ease of not having to drive anywhere

9.) Spudel wasser” (carbonated water)… but NOT paying for it!

10.) History permeating everything

11.) Coiled heaters in bathrooms, over which to dry and warm towels.

12.) The concern for the environment. It’s just part of the German mentality.

13.) The autobahn, especially the lack of billboards and advertising along them.

14.) The great two-way windows that both swing and tilt open.

15.) The fact that both tax and tips are usually included in what you buy.

16.) Cheese. Did I mention the great cheese?!

17.) Hearty brown bread with texture and flavor. This is in NO way like whole wheat bread in the US!

18.) The words “genau” and “gel” and “eben” and “eigentlich” and "eierloeffel."

19.) Pedestrian zones in big cities.

Good bakeries on every corner.


What we won’t miss:

1.) People smoking everywhere

2.) Ridiculously small portions of coffee… with no free refills

3.) Lack of elevators, even in 8-story hotels.

4.) Paying (a lot!) for internet usage and having to hurry up and post/e-mail as you watch the minutes tick down.

5.) Paying for water – going in and coming out. (You don’t get free water at restaurants and you have to pay to use many public bathrooms)

6.) Bad customer service – noticed most predominantly at American companies in Germany, like Holiday Inn!

7.) The horrible exchange rate that makes everything so expensive right now. I’m sure we spent a fortune, and I didn't feel that it'd be right to collect unemployment from Germany, so that income was lost. (I’ll assess next week. Scared to pieces!)

Being jolted back into reality at home includes my familiar unemployment woes, but believe it or not I was invited to three interviews while I was gone, so I'll be talking tomorrow to a former co-worker at Microsoft (!) who needs some educational materials developed, to an online learning company on Wednesday about a product manager position, and (finally!) with the non-profit childbirth education and doula services organization on Friday about their open Executive Director position. (That would be a dream job, combining my passion for family education, childbirth and nonprofits and my project management and business skills... but I have a sneaking suspicion that it might not pay enough to meet our needs.)

So there's no time for jet-lag and no time for whining about not wanting to be back.

And really, we have some wonderful reminders of our trip to Germany around our house already -- my favorite of which are the incredibly cozy bett-decken (fluffy individual down comforters) from Laura's family and the Ruhpolding sammelgedeck from my wonderful and thoughtful mystery blogger friend, which sits beautifully on our piano. (Thanks again, you mystery blogger, you!)

I'll leave today's wistful post with our favorite sights from our (very long) lay-over at Copenhagen airport yesterday:

Good thing all signs are in Danish and English or we might not have been able to find our way to the bathrooms!

And really, aren't these "smoking capsules" just hilarious?

And just to make myself feel better and keep myself from whining and wallowing even further, I'm now gonna have myself a breakfast that I did (kinda-sorta) miss in Germany -- cooked oatmeal with Craisins.

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7 comments:

Juanita said...

Ahh, the windows; how I wish we had windows like that. Since we have a two-story house and we are too old to get up on ladders anymore, our upstairs windows haven't been washed from the outside in years. I guess I'll have to pay someone to do it next year.

Welcome back home, though. I'm so glad you had a great time. My brother, who has been here for four weeks, has to return to Germany Friday and he is not looking forward to that either.

J said...

Actually, Danish - not Dutch. Unless you were really in Amsterdam.

What you are going through is called the 'post travel blues' and I go through it every year after my 4 weeks in Thailand.

It'll lessen with time, but never completely go away.

Goofball said...

oooh post vacation blues, I often suffer it as well...It is tough indeed. Very tough.

In general it's hard to have the feeling belonging in 2 worlds. You learn to live with it, but it's very tough at times.

Goofball said...

And I doubt that there are Dutch signs in Copenhagen...but then the word 'toilet' exists Dutch as well :D

blackcrag said...

I've been reading up on your adventures. It sounds like you had the time of your life.

Anonymous said...

You're supposed to put the larger plate on a stand behind the cup and saucer when you display them, as in this picture:

http://thumbs.ebaystatic.com/pict/2000927009944040_1.jpg

Do a google image search for sammelgedeck for more examples.

(not the gift giver, but very intrigued by the story...)

christina said...

I just loved hearing about your impressions of Germany, Carol!Thanks so much for sharing. And what a beautiful gift you got from your mystery reader (not me! wish I would have thought of it, though).

I really wish I could have been there but health, finances, other obligations got in the way. But we ARE traveling to Vancouver next summer and are planning a little jaunt down to Washington State and possibly Oregon for a few days so we may actually be able to get together some time during this lifetime. Wouldn't that be great?

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