So, here I sit, in a somewhat empty house, Target shopping bags littered on the floor, a bag of shoes overflowing and a crib (in pieces) in need of setting up. This does not feel like home; and Regensburg feels like a lifetime ago.
I feel as though I’ve created my own world. One contained in the four walls of this house with my family. One where dear friends pop over or send notes, reminding me that I’m being thought of – but, it all feels so surreal. It’s not good or bad… I’m neither happy nor sad. I. Just. Am. (and that’s okay)
The first few days, I resided in our garden. First, I was cleaning and organizing and then, just sitting and watching – this was my “safe place,” I felt happy here and didn’t want to go explore our new (old) world. I wanted to stay in the garden and let life fall in to place around me. But, life doesn’t work that way.
One day, after dropping the Hubs to work, I stopped by our village’s grocery store. This is where the first of the culture shock began. I entered full of excitement, looking for old familiar favorites. The first thing I noticed were the price differences. Everything is so much more expensive. Is it because German food stuffs are smaller? Is it the Euro to Dollar thing?
Then, I started looking for some international favorites. What I found, were two shelves – one filled with English items and the other a hodgepodge of Asian, Hispanic, Kosher and other items – enough to fill a shelf. I asked an employee if there was another area for international items, and he said that was it and that there was really no need for any more. (I beg to differ.)
Up to this point, everything was okay. A bit frustrating, but okay. Then, I went searching for cereal, a box of Frosted Mini Wheats. As I walked down the aisle (that spans the depth of the store) and was surrounded by cereal on both sides, I became a bit overwhelmed. I quickly found the Mini Wheats section, but was shocked by the variety – blueberry, strawberry, chocolate and filled! But, no where was the tried and true original. I walked the aisle, up and down a few times – nothing. I started to look for a Müsli cereal and the variety in front of me dwarfed anything else I had seen. At this point, I knew it was time to go.
I headed to the checkout, where I met a woman who perpetuated the stereotype of the disingenuous American. She asked questions, but did not wait for the answers… “did you find everything okay” – no, not really… (no follow up in what I was missing… I don’t even think she heard me, it was right on to the next question) “do you have a Jewel card” – no, we just moved here from Germany, my husband has… “ah, you have lots of cuckoo clocks and Hummels then, right?” – no, not rea.. (she interrupts) “my husband was there and sent me lots of cuckoo clocks and Hummels. Bye. Have a good day.”
Maybe I was building up to this moment as I shopped, maybe it wasn’t as bad as it felt. I was so used to the official-ness of shopping in Germany, you say hello to each other, they ring you up as you shove your things in your bag, they tell you the total and you are done. Was I hoping for a conversation with this American cashier? I’m not quite sure. All I know, is that the entire situation was my first taste of culture shock and it broke me a bit.
Aside from that, things have really fallen into place here. The girls are playing with friends and the tiny tartlet is playing in the garden from morning to night. Loads of friends have stopped by, called, offered things to help us until our container filled with our life appears. I am feeling the love.
We’ve stocked up on cleaning supplies, school supplies and locally brewed beer. We bought a new car and registered the kiddos for school. Life is falling into place. It just doesn’t seem like my life yet.
This will definitely be an adventure… a repatriation adventure. I hope you’ll join us on the long road that lays ahead.
Have you felt this way after moving someplace new? Have you also repatriated? How did you deal with the surreal feeling of living neither here nor there?
(Regular blogging will begin in a few weeks… please bear with me.)