Thursday, November 17, 2011

Where the Heart Leads

Five years ago today, I got on a plane and left everyone and everything I've ever known... leaving behind my family, my friends, my house, my job, my way of life, my language, my culture, and yes, even simplicity. All for love. Of course it might make the story a little more readable, leaving one with that sense of an inner sigh, if I were to fluff it up by saying that "Prince Charming" and I lived happily ever after. But aren't such things exactly the kind of things that make up a fairytale?

Moving to another land, another culture might be much more complicated than meets the eye. On the surface, there are so many times that I think that there are really not that many differences between Americans and Germans. We all laugh, we love, we have families, and we share joy over the same kinds of things, and sorrow over just as many. The same sun rises and the same sun sets on both of our lands... just at different times. But what my soul has come to find joy in, and sometimes sadness in, is that while these surface things might make one feel connected, they can often be a painful reminder that this is not what I once knew as home. They often say that it takes more than a house to make it a "home", and that is true, but it takes so much more than that... more than just people that you love living in it.

In recent years when traveling "home" to the U.S., I have found myself quite disconnected. Things had carried on without me there to observe them and take part in them. I felt a little lost... there was familiarity without being familiar anymore. But that sense of being lost was not just on the part of returning to the place of my roots... it was also the absence of things that I have had to learn and embrace as my "new home". Some of these things came easily for me, while others I still struggle with.

But five years later finds me fairly fluent in my "new language", so much so that sometimes I have to ask my German husband the English word for "wxyz". Having a command of the language has given me a sense of freedom that I did not have at first, which makes simple things like shopping, going to the doctor, taking the train to a new city, or whatever you might find "common", not as scary as it once was. Sometimes it almost feels surreal that while I interact with others on a daily basis, whether I know them or not, that on the surface I might appear as just a normal girl making her way through life. But what they do not know is that I am actually looking out from behind my disguised cape of "anonymity", secretly relishing in the fact that they may never know that I as an "Ausländer" (alien/foreigner), view their world and see EVERYTHING they see with completely different eyes... and often they may not ever know it.

It’s kind of funny that just this past week, I was thinking about my old house... the one I bought on my own, fixed up on my own, and dearly loved. The interesting thing is that it was brick with some faux "Fachwerk" accents, with climbing ivy growing on it. You see, I've always loved this style. Something about it has always spoken to me, and when I reflect upon this and take into consideration that all these elements are quite typically found here, it makes me wonder if my soul knew ahead of time just where my heart would one day end up.


  1. How can I say, that what you expressed, is something I can understand so well. It is my husband who left his country to live in Germany with me, but we often talk about this topic. We decided it would be good not to live in my home town and we actually live 5oo km away from it, now. So it is in some ways similar to leaving your country, as northern Germany is so different to the south :)
    There is a part in you that others can't see, don't know, never experienced. When you leave one country you feel a loss but when you visit the other you feel the same. That even happens to me when we go on holiday to England - when we come back it is like a loss. It sounds dramatic but I think you will never be like someone who lived in the same town/country all their life. But I wouldn't want to miss that experience. It widens the horizon so much and although it is painful sometimes it is like a treasure you got given...:) :)

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post, although I miss you a lot. I can understand to a degree since I moved away for about 10 years and then moved back. Things are not the same as I remember and I guess they never will be. I heard you won't be coming in for the holidays...I'll miss you!

  3. B.r.a.vo. You took the words right out of my mouth. Great post...

  4. Ditto Julie. Fabulous post and so true for me as well.
    btw-got your post and you are a sweetheart!

  5. i know exactly how you´re feeling...


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