What is Home and Other Moving Musings

What is home? Is it a place? Is it where you are physically? Is it a house? Is it a person? A community? The people whom you surround yourself with? Is it having your schedule in place? A routine that you can follow day to day? 

What is home? This is a question I’ve found myself learning and exploring the answer to over the years. I think it is a question that we all try to answer through the beginning of our adulthood. Learning what it is to each of us to feel “at home”. I’ve found that, obviously, this varies from person to person and it’s one of my favorite things to learn about people.

So, before we go much further, leave me a comment (yes, right now mid read of this post) and tell me, what is home to you?

So, home. Now, I don’t talk about my husband’s job or career for many different reasons, but if you’ve followed for any period of time, you’ve probably figured out that at this time he is in the military. This means that in the almost 10 years we’ve been together we’ve now moved 4 times. There have been several benefits for this. We get to experience different places (even just within the US there is a wide variety to the way of life) and travel different chunks of the States. We got to experience living in Europe and seeing how life operates outside of our “US Bubble”. Those are big things, but even just the simple thing of figuring out what we like/want/hate/don’t want in a home, so that when we do settle we are positive what we want. The fact that every 3 years (at most, we’ve now had two two-year stations), we are forced to declutter, to re organize, to figure out what we actually want to keep and use and what we can pass along has been great in teaching us value and quality of quantity. 

There are also negatives to moving so frequently. The fact that we are in a place just long enough to create a home, a community, friendships, and then we have to “leave” it all behind is hard. As nice as it can be to unclutter and get rid of stuff regularly, it’s also tough to constantly feel like we are packing or unpacking, never truly able to settle. 

All of this has made me realize, what home actually means to me. For me, home is a combination of things. It’s hearing the pitter patter of feet running across the floor (after they’ve been repeatedly told “No running in the house”). It’s the pacing and chatting of my husband as I am trying to do something in the kitchen. It’s the feeling of waking up in the morning, going to the kitchen to steep up a pot of tea or brew a cup of coffee and while the house is still quietly waking. It’s seeing books aimlessly stacked in various rooms, because even a home library stretches its arms to other places. It’s opening a window on a pretty spring or fall day, heading to our local park to run off some energy (because remember…”No running in the house”). It’s finding a local walking route that gives us just the right number of endorphins (and can also be used as a running route…just maybe?). It’s all of these things that make up “Home”. 

***You’ll notice I haven’t made mention of a community yet. Here’s the thing, as an introvert I don’t “thrive” on community. I like having a social aspect to our lives and you’ll find me out and about, doing all the community things quite a bit, but I find that rather than needing a whole community, I tend to find maybe one or two friends that I spend time with on a much deeper level, than having a whole community at my hands. 

This is what home is for me. 

Adjusting to America

We’ve been back in America for about 6 weeks and I can firmly say that we’ve adjusted about as much as we are going to. We’ve had a couple of moments of culture shock, but by and large it seems like just stepping back into a life that we could only just barely remember. I wanted this post to kind of serve as just a highlight of some of the things that we’ve noticed or dealt with since moving back from Germany. Some of it is personal observations, some of it is going to be Covid-19 related (as that’s what we are currently in the middle of), some of it is going to be random. 

I will say, I do have a whole separate post in the works about some of the big differences between the two countries, so drop by for that one when it comes out in a few weeks. 

One of the biggest things to adjust to in coming back to the US is just the convenience of it all. You don’t have to worry about hitting the stores before they close, or reaching out to friends/neighbors on that inevitable time that you run out of something and the stores are closed. There is NOTHING wrong with this (in some ways I like how it fosters a community), but it is nice to just be able to get what you need exactly when you need it. 

Another aspect of convenience is in terms of big box stores. It’s nice when you are able to do all of your shopping in one store, rather than making lots of little purchases at a variety of different stores. That is actually something I missed in some ways (although I didn’t miss picking up random things that were not needed simply because I walked past them thinking “oh well we will need that at some point” or “oh that’s cute”). 

In strict relationship to Covid-19, it’s been really nice not to have to schedule an appointment or worry if a store is open due to restrictions, we can just run over to whatever store and do what we need to. Of course, masks are required, not much of a difference there, but the fact that stores are even open is a new thing. Not commenting on the merit of that, just on what we experienced. 

In terms of reverse culture shock, I once again experienced culture shock in going to the grocery store. For some reason going to Walmart or Target didn’t bother me (there are big box stores in Germany that we did go to), but the grocery store was massive in comparison to my little neighborhood grocery. I walked up and down the aisles in shock trying to figure out what we needed and where to find it. It was an experience to say the least. 

One other thing, that is partly just being in a new place (in terms of NY specifically, it wasn’t so bad in KY where we’ve been before), but also partly different is just driving and getting gas. First up, getting gas in Germany involves going in to the station market to pay. It’s not a pay at the pump situation and often times, some gas stations will have their own cards that you can use to pay. Also, the speeds and driving rules are different enough in Germany that, coming back here and driving has been a little strange (and no- I’m not just talking about the Autobahn, just in a general sense). I didn’t feel it as much going over to Germany, but definitely did coming back. 

Otherwise, we’ve gotten to a point where I feel like we are feeling “normal”. I feel like there are benefits and drawbacks to each country, BUT, in all honesty, I would go back to Europe in not even a single heartbeat. 

Leaving Germany

January 17- I don’t really know how this post is going to go. I have no idea how to even begin, when to begin, how to process my feelings and then write them out, no ideas. So, I think I am going to treat it a bit like a diary of sorts. A dated registry of my feelings every so often (I’m thinking maybe two or three of these dated bits) as things happen or what not. I hope that this turns out ok and that it ends up being a good representation of this move. It could also end up being totally bad…if it is, then I’m sorry. My goal is to have a bit of a “part 1 on the road home-leaving” followed by a “part 2 on the road home-adjusting” that will be up in March. And if you’re reading this, then I’ve succeeded. Maybe. 

So, we are about a couple weeks out from our flight back to the US. Our home has been packed up, crated, and is slowly making its way to the shipping facility to be shipped back. It’s been a tense time between trying to corral two very curious, very active little boys, track what the movers are doing, handle schoolwork, and just keep sane. Getting your entire house packed up and emptied out slowly (this was done over two days) makes a move even more real. The second day we were all cooped up in our Master Bedroom and walking out to things being wrapped and then later to a completely empty living room was…a bit heartbreaking. 

I’ve spoken before about how much of a home and life we’ve made here in Germany. This is one of the first places in our moves that has felt…so much like home. We’ve made a little community for ourselves here and while we’ve known this move was coming since summer, this moving day kind of…came all too fast and all too final. Germany has taught us and given us so much. We’ve learned how to live a slower, less complicated life; how to be a bit more “go with the flow” (ok, ok, 2020 and Covid really taught us that); how to actual live life, rather than plod through it. We’ve seen history in ways we couldn’t imagine, been to places we’ve dreamed about, and we’ve been able to learn and grow as a family. We’ve made some incredible friends, a best friend who will forever be in my heart. I’ve found some new facets of myself and a little piece of our family’s heart will always remain here. 

And now, as we are about to start cleaning our house, making the last of our meals, and getting everything together for the last shipment of stuff consolidated, and really look at leaving, I’m getting that antsy anxious feeling. That feeling that says, “C’mon let’s just get on with it already”. The whole, just rip the Band-Aid off, feeling…except just break my heart instead. 

January 29 – Today was our move out day. Out of all the days that we have had to prepare and adjust to this move, today was the day that it decidedly felt real. We loaded the massive van we rented, did a final walk through ourselves (due to Covid) and then drove away. I had a tear or two (or a sob fest) as we drove the route towards base one final time. There was a finality to this. Previously, we could almost fool our brains into thinking that this wasn’t coming, wasn’t happening, that we were just doing things (don’t ask me to explain the psychology of it because I can’t). But driving away that final time, knowing we were done in that house, that we were properly leaving was hard. 

February 4 – Well, the road hasn’t been easy the past 48ish hours, but we are finally on a plane heading back to the USA. We were supposed to be on a plane 2 days ago, but due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, the planes were not coming or going, and we ended up in a hotel without our luggage for that period of time with all of our fellow travelers. Thankfully everyone’s spirits were high, the hotel did an exceptional job housing us all at the last minute (and feeding us, keeping us informed as the changes kept coming, etc.), and on the last day we had a bit of free time between our arrival at the terminal and our security time, so we could go purchase some clothes or anything else we might have needed at that point (we did have a grocery a short walk away, so simple things were able to be purchased on the first day). 

Needless to say, having this experience of leaving, changed my reaction to finally boarding the plane and now, writing this while in flight. I thought that I would have some tears, some sadness at leaving a place that had come so close to home for me, but instead I was filled with excitement at the thought of actually boarding the plane and heading home. I had said my farewells to everything and everyone in preparation for our Tuesday flight, and now, after all the delays, I just wanted to go. 

So, not the way I had thought I would end this post, but here we are. I think that this was a way for me to be “ok” with leaving Germany. Maybe “Germany”/A Higher Being/The Universe/Whatever you want to call it thought I needed a little push to leave and this was how that happened. I’m still feeling a bit emotional at leaving, but mostly what I feel is relief to be leaving this limbo that we’ve been in.

Auf Wiedersehen für jetzt Deutschland.  Wir werden dich vermissen und die Erinnerungen und Freundschaften schätzen, die wir geschlossen haben.  Bis zum nächsten Mal.

A Cuppa Cosy Heads Back Stateside

Well, it’s come to an end. Or rather a new beginning has come. Glass half full, right?

I have put off writing this post for a long time. And then, when I finally sat down to write it, I went back and forth and re wrote things multiple times. You see, in an incredibly surprising turn of events (to us at least) we found out over the summer that we were only supposed to be in Germany for 2 years, rather than the 3 that we had planned on. To say we were shocked was an understatement. Shock quickly turned to disappointment and sadness at the thought of leaving the place that we have very quickly started to call home so soon. As we started to sort through all of the feelings we were experiencing (which were a lot and were exacerbated by being separated at the time) it became a situation where we needed to look forward to where we would be going next. 

It has taken some time to come to as much peace as I could to write this post and NOT come off in any other way than positive about this change. I’ll be honest, I cried a lot of tears about heading back The States. I’ve made it no secret how much I’ve loved living here in Germany. The benefits have far outweighed the hard moments (which there have been) and I’ve really learned a lot about life, about my little family, about friendship, and about myself being here. We’ve done and seen so much here, and while we celebrate everything that we’ve been able to see and experience, we also, in a way, mourn the closing of this chapter. 

I’m trying not to get to deep into my feelings or into all of the things (though my 2020 wrap up will have A LOT to say), but basically the gist is, in the first few months of 2021 we will be moving. Our new chapter is going to be in New York and we are excited to be in a small town in a beautiful area. There is a lot to celebrate, being able to see our families, shopping at target, eating Chipotle, and much more and we are trying to focus on all of the good that will be coming our way with this move, rather than the bittersweet feelings of saying goodbye to this incredible place. 

So, that’s my incredibly short life update for you. Probably one of the shortest posts I’ve written, but I honestly don’t have much to say about it. It’s one of those things that you process and then try not to continue to focus on as you try to stay positive. 

Moving – A Real-Life Moment

Being totally honest- I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t really know what I am saying. I am just free writing this in the hope that something will stick. Maybe I’ll come back in a little bit and edit it, maybe I’ll just let it post exactly as it is. We shall see…

A little caveat before we get into my rambling- this is not the post I had originally anticipated posting. This week I had a quarterly favorites post (which will be up on Wednesday) and then was going to do another installment in the Utterly Ridiculous Short Stories of My Life about our HHG delivery. HOWEVER, my brain is fried and quite honestly, every time I look at the partially written short story I just crack a little more. I want to be able to do these posts justice and share good content so instead of giving you a half ass short story, I am going to just blabber for a minute about how I’m actually feeling. I hope this isn’t an issue for anyone.

So, if you haven’t been following along…never mind that – If you are reading this post, you are probably well aware of our move. If you follow me on Social Media you are even more aware of it as I think I’ve mentioned the words “our move” more than anything else…I wish I was kidding,

It’s safe to say that I am very excited about our move. Brief breakdown (just skip two sentences if you don’t want to hear this bit for the umpteenth time), we moved to Germany in February of this year. We’ve been living in a hotel apartment up until a little shy of a week ago. Moving to Europe has been a dream come true and I can say without a doubt that within the first week or two we (as a family) had the overwhelming sense of home. It just feels really good to be here.

More than that, our neighborhood is one of the really good ones in our area. We have had the most welcoming and happy neighbors (on both the American and German side) and our house is perfect for us. The boys have been able to have all of their toys back and they have a large yard to go run laps…err energy off in.

And now? Well now my brain is absolutely fried. My body is exhausted. And I still feel the stress and anxiousness of “things to be done”. I am one of those people that, when moving, has to do it all right then. I don’t take breaks very often in the unpacking/settling in process, preferring to just go, go, go until it is all done. That is a) not a very healthy mindset, and b) not something that is really possible with two kids.

**Side note, but relevant- I am also one of those people who can’t slow down/rest while there is a mess or clutter. It’s all got to be cleaned up and put away before I feel like I can sit down.***

My goal by the end of the first week was to have the house 75-80% completed. I would say as of writing this post (Sunday afternoon), we are at around 60%. No big deal. We’ve got most of the main floor done, minus décor/final touches, and we’ve got pretty much all of the second floor done, again, minus décor/final touches. In some ways I’m feeling really good about where things stand this afternoon. In fact, as I am sitting here, cataloging the rooms in our house, I am getting a little relieved at how much has actually been done.

BUT I know that the moment I walk all the way down the stairs, down to the basement, I’ll be feeling a different type of way. It’s the one area of the house that hasn’t really been touched. In one way it’s because it is a lot of the décor stuff, which we aren’t doing until the end, but also because it is where the things that we don’t know what they are, or don’t know where to put them, go. It’s the stomping ground for everything that doesn’t have an “official” spot yet. And it has quickly devolved into a catastrophe. It’s a catastrophe that is going to be handled this week.

All of the above to say that moving has been the most incredible, exhausting, exciting thing ever. It’s been fun to basically design the interior of our new home, to feel all of the good vibes flowing through our house (this may sound a little out there depending on how you think, but I truly just feel like this house has such a good feeling to it, felt it when we walked through the first time, when we got our keys and off and on throughout the unpacking), but it’s also been absolutely exhausting on both a physical and mental level.

In all the heyday of moving and the excitement of our new home, being in a foreign country, traveling all over, we forget that moving is HARD. There is a lot going on, a lot of sorting, of unpacking, of setting things up. And while I’ve been so excited to set everything up, to find the right spot for all of our furniture (and nick knacks and artwork when that time comes), I’m also sitting here, almost a week in wondering what the hell has happened over the past week.

I know it’s a phase. I know it’s coming to an end. I know we’ve been able to accomplish so much in the short few days we’ve been here. And I know, at the end of this it will feel so good to just be settled and be able to go on vacation and relax. But first we have to get to that point. One cup at a time (which I am brewing a plenty of cups).

It’s the first of July and even though we are not done unpacking, I am hopeful that we are past the worst of it, that we can have this first day of a new month serve as a fresh start. That we can start getting our actual routine back. That I can breathe and start finalizing the little details for our trip this month. I’m feeling positive. Basically: That light at the end of the move tunnel is shining really bright.

So, there’s my current status. I don’t really know if this has made any sense at all. If you’ve moved recently, let me know how it went for you! Also, let me know if you are a go, go, go kind of person or a take the needed breaks kind of person.