6 days. It’s been 6 days since I landed at Frankfurt airport. 6 days of Germany, after almost 4 years away. 6 days where I have faced rainy, gray, dark and cold November weather. 6 days where I repeatedly asked myself: What are you doing here? Of course, there are the parents. The family. The friends. And it IS great to see them. But it has also been 6 days where I have been wondering what to write about in this blog. I started a halfhearted post about things that shocked me in good ol’ Germany. Such as: How come my favorite bar in my small town has only ONE beer on tap? Has it always been that way? Why? And how come I have never noticed or never been bothered by it before? Yes, you’ve noticed, I was tossing around some real big topics there. But I just couldn’t write anything. So today I did some soul searching. How come I have nothing to say about my ex-country after being back after such a long time? Have I run out of stories to tell? Writer’s block? It was neither. I didn’t have anything to tell you guys because I have been hiding inside my parents’ safe house. I have no idea what’s going on out there, in the real German world. Why? Well, this is not an easy one to admit – but since it’s just us, I can admit it. It’s because I was scared.
Four years ago, I was not scared to get on a plane to Chile and leave everything I worked for, all the people I loved behind and start a new life. I did that in a heartbeat. I was not scared to drive down the Death Road on a foggy day while the driver was driving like the FBI was chasing him and he was on the most wanted list (okay, I WAS scared, but I did it anyway). So why am I scared to face anybody in Germany? I realized today, it’s the faces. Their nosy, inquiring, suspicious, jealous, unfriendly, rejecting, what-do-you-want-back-here-and-don’t-tell-me-you’re-better-than-any-of-us faces. Admittedly, that’s what I see in their faces. I don’t care what people think about me in Paraguay, and I sure don’t care if somebody in Indiana approves of my lifestyle or not, but here, all of a sudden, it seems to matter. It feels like high school all over again, or no, it feels like college all over again, where I wanted to prove that the ugly caterpillar (that I was in high school) had become a beautiful butterfly. Being back in Germany, I felt like I had to prove to the lady handing me my new ID that Chile was a great country and a good life choice, and to the old man in the supermarket who was chatting me up waiting in line that I didn’t WANT to own a house at age 31, and to my parents’ neighbors that even if I have a college degree, I don’t think that corporate life or working a 15 hour/day job will make me happier than freelancing and traveling. It bothered and haunted me and locked me inside my house and didn’t give me anything more exciting to write about than our neighbor’s new car that I saw from my window. Until today. Today, I first read Beverly’s wonderful post about doing what you really want. And it suddenly struck me that while being far away from home is a challenge for other people, MY real challenge is to BE home. Well, what used to be my home for over 12 years, my small town in Germany. It’s true that we can only learn and grow if we step out of our comfort zone, if we challenge ourselves. And while it might be a challenge to hang out on a hammock for 2 weeks while being on a boat on the Amazon for some, my, Marinela’s, real challenge is right here.
The second thing that helped my soul searching today was talking to my dad. My dad is probably the most hardworking person I have ever known. He and my mother left their home country and built an entirely new life in a completely foreign place. They didn’t know anybody, they didn’t have any money, even their car broke down and they had lost their suitcases – yes, exploring new territories seems to be part of my DNA – and I am probably as proud of my parents as a daughter can ever be. Today, my dad who has worked his entire life without resting looked at me and said: “You’re doing it right, kid. All this work. All these hours. And when it’s time to enjoy it, you’re too old. You got it all figured out.”
Hearing this, I realized something: I know that my lifestyle is not my parents’ lifestyle, nor is it the lifestyle of many of my German friends here, and it is most definitely not the neighbor’s lifestyle. But it is mine. I have earned it, I am damn happy with it, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. So you know what, Germany? I am ready to face you!