This is mostly for me to look back at later as a reminder of how I feel right in this moment.
I leave in exactly one week.
We all knew this would end at some point and here we are.
I feel so at home here. It took a while for that to be true. I’ve liked it here the whole time but it didn’t quite feel like home. But about two months ago it finally clicked. I have a family here (it feels wrong to call them only host family), I have a best friend here that is always up to whatever shenanigans I have in mind and can usually one-up me (to Addie: EW), I know the streets, I know the bike paths, I have my favorite bars and my not favorite bars, I have my favorite club for once every several months (Barrachoooo), I’ve cultivated my obsession with H&M, I can converse in broken but mostly understandable German, I can understand a lot more German than I can speak, I know every food Sophia doesn’t like, I can usually make her laugh, she can usually make me laugh…
This year has been far beyond what I expected it to be. Instead of it being a year of my life, it has been my life. That doesn’t quite make sense but I don’t know how to explain it better. It’s not a cutout from my regular life, a year I spent abroad. It has just become my life.
I’ve felt really daunted the past month when imagining coming home and I still do. I’m excited to see friends and family; that hasn’t changed. But I don’t have much interest in picking up my life again. I enjoy having an international group of friends. Not just Americans, not just Germans, but a United Nations of sorts. I like traveling to different countries. True, I didn’t get to that many. But I did go.
Germans are funny creatures. (I mean that in the nicest and least offensive way possible, just fyi.) Culturally, very similar to Americans in certain ways and so different in others. This has been great and a pinch in the butt at times. So it goes.
It feels like when I left New York, except worse. As I had hoped, I’ve been able to go back to Buffalo more or less every year since I left. This obviously isn’t possible with Germany. I have possibilities to come back and live for a bit later (get a Master’s perhaps), but that’s the future. Right now there are no guarantees. So while I don’t feel like saying, “Goodbye,” how can I not at least have the possibility in my mind that this is, truly, goodbye? And then I’m scared the memories will fade, the connections will loosen, and ten years down the road I’ll think fondly but distantly at “that one year I spent in Germany.” This is my deepest, darkest fear at the moment because this isn’t something I ever want to think of as distant.
My heart is breaking a little bit each day but I’m going to enjoy my week here. There will be cake, lots of glühwein, and a fair amount of Zwick’l in my near future. It’s not even noon here but a Zwick’l sounds pretty good…
To future me, if you’re reading this more than six months after you get back home, text/call/skype Karin and Addie. Right now. And don’t ever let yourself forget the feeling of home you had here. Because, even if briefly, Bayreuth was your home, was the place you felt most comfortable in the world and I’m just not willing to lose that feeling completely.
Update: Turns out this is the three year anniversary of my blog! This is the first time I’ve ever had a three year anniversary for something. I’ll be honest, I’d rather have it with…say…a person, but a blog is nice, too!