I always enjoy a trip back to normalcy - familiar things that I forgot how much I missed and others that I thought about very often. The most basic things become memorable - snow days, soft toilet paper, wide roads, using a car... and then there are the things that I never forget -my dog and her howl, food, family, and my bed. Sometimes I am also reminded of how things change and life continues to go on - watching my Dad take his blood pressure in the morning, having a newly painted bedroom, knowing what winter is like again, and my cousin having a new baby.
When I was checking in at the airport in Munich yesterday, the Lufthansa counter woman kept talking to me and telling me that after 10 years in Germany, she was going to be moving back to Canada. Then came that far look in her eyes and she recited the things that she missed... cheddar cheese, caesar salad, steak, martinis, nachos, potato chips... it went on and on. I could identify with her to some extent and then she began telling me how after ten years how her social life in Germany was not too existent due to the 'invisible barrier' that friendships often don't progress past. She only had a hand full of friends she could invite over for a bottle of wine just for the heck of it. She was also telling me the things she would miss most about Germany - clean public bathrooms and church bells topped her list.
I listened and wondered where in the world I would be in ten years. Everything in Germany is more regimented, which makes me happy to come to the 'wild west', if even for a short time. We are so fortunate to be able to visit our friends in family in the US quite often. Living abroad definitely has taught me that 'home' is a relative term. It's frustrating because living in various parts of the world there are always things that suddenly lend to the feeling of home, so it's difficult to feel complete in one place. If we move back to America at some point I will miss aspects of Germany, but we'll always have tie there as well.
The next month is going to be exciting and fun. I can't wait to visit with old friends and familiar haunts. The food is definitely going to be a high point - I'm going to make sure I'm soaking in everything I can't obtain in Germany. And in the meantime I'll be enjoying winter with a dog who loves the snow.