It’s hard really. Remembering I mean. It’s been one year and it feels like yesterday. Looking back my exchange seemed to never end and yet it ended too soon. Weird how time does that right?
The year back has been probably the fastest ever. Most likely cause I threw myself into my school and work and buried my head under ground and once in a while came up for air. I also went to Germany three times.
I wish they told us before we left that this year would never leave us, that it would change us and shape us and become so entrenched in our being that we can no longer be that old person that we were.
Wait, they told us that?
I guess it’s hard to believe at first. You know, starting out, heading across the ocean to this grand adventure, six months seems like an eternity and a year a lifetime. It’s not that they didn’t tell me of I didn’t listen, it’s that my tiny, Americanized, teenage brain couldn’t comprehend the fact that once you live somewhere, once you allow yourself to fall in love with that country…
It’ll never be the same again.
Sorry kids. The secret is out. Germany follows me around like a shadow, sometimes comforting, sometimes not. I can’t let go and I can’t forget (Was I supposed to?). And I know I’ve become that obnoxious person that just won’t freaking shut up about that one subject, but sometimes it kills.
It’s sitting at a stoplight talking to your friend and she says something to which you reply “genau” and then you sit there laughing cause if you don’t laugh you’ll cry and then they’ll never understand. They’ll never understand what it’s like to know a language you never thought that in a million years you’d learn and yet there are days you can’t even think in your native tongue let alone hold a decent conversation. And how happy you are and yet how sad you are because of it. What’s that they say?
Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.
Oh yeah. Working on it.
But being that it has been one-year and all I can’t help but remember.
Remember my last party in Germany.
Saying goodbye to friends.
Saying goodbye to host siblings.
Then the final goodbye, standing at the airport, before going through security and passport control.
I won’t describe it, because I can’t. But I will say I cried my way through security, passport control, the terminal, and somehow made it on my plane. And then cried some more. I must’ve been an interesting row mate that day.
I honestly don’t remember that day too clearly, but I do remember the take offs and landings. That’s when the reality hit. That’s when I wanted to scream: “stop!” “rewind!” “play again”. Silly Lise, right? This is the real world kid.
You don’t get second chances.
But I didn’t want a second chance; I wanted to continue my first one… forever? No go. The real world is waiting- or so everyone said.
But don’t they understand that my year in Germany was every bit as real as the life I’m living now. The bonds I made in Germany with my friends and family will last a lifetime and then some. So don’t you dare pat me on the head and say:
So you were gone for a year. How was your trip?
It wasn’t a trip. It can’t have been. A trip doesn’t break you down and build you up. A trip doesn’t give you friends that stuck by your side and helped you with calculus in German, a trip doesn’t give you deep friendships with people from across the globe and a trip sure as heck doesn’t give you a three year old girl who tells people that her sister lives in America.
No, it wasn’t a trip. It was a journey. A life. A not too shabby one at that.
But I’m back now. A year in and the clock keeps ticking and I keep remembering.
But believe it or not, I smile more than I cry.