Not being home for ten months straight can be a pretty weird feeling. You’d think after 6 years of living an expat life, I’d be used to the feeling of being away. The truth is – you never get used it. And no matter for how long you’re gone, home will always be home.
After the adventure of a winter life-time in Iceland, I was happy to be able to relax in rural Germany. The purpose was to catch up with friends and family, some of whom I hadn’t seen in a very long time. I guess I decided to come home at an optimal time – there were a few birthday parties going on and a friend from high school invited me to her Dirty 30iest. Which was the perfect occasion to meet up with people whom I hadn’t been in touch with for a while. Clubbing, bowling, and house parties – I think I did a lot considering the small amount of time (two weekends) I had to get in touch with everyone.
Up until now, being home was pretty much a bag of mixed feelings. Although I always enjoyed my time, I was also quite divided between the area I grew up in and the city I had studied in. Rough, isolated Eifel-hills versus the beauty of Heidelberg – it was always tough to combine those two and see as many people as possible. In addition to being stressed out by the fact that time is really a luxury when traveling and who exactly to see next, I never seemed to spend as much time at home as I wanted to.
Well, this sort of changed during my last trip. I made a conscious decision to not see my beloved Heidelberg (for first time since moving to the US) and it turned out for the better. With the few weeks to spare, I was able to do some great exploring of the area I grew up in. The richness of nature is always mind-blowing, especially when coming from such a polluted and clustered city like New York. It always amazes me how clear my mind becomes after being home for only a couple of days (or just after leaving New York, for that matter). Although quite isolated by itself, the dense forests, green scenery and breath-taking landscape is unbeatable at times.
On Valentine’s Day I discovered a small forest practically behind my parent’s house. How I never actually went here as a child and teenager is a complete mystery to me now. My niece showed me the way and together we trudged through the snowy paths on a Sunday. It’s always quite lovely – a walk through nature.
On other days, we were able to explore the proximity to Luxembourg and Belgium. Both countries are only half an hour from where I grew up, making it almost a must-see when visiting. Echternach views on a Sunday revealed open stores and a lively pedestrian zone.
Liege the following week had a street market and some sightseeing highlights (although I wouldn’t recommend the city otherwise since there are way more beautiful spots to go to in Belgium).
Taking some time for friends and family showed me how close I still am to my initial clique of friends. After forming a group in high school, we’ve all pretty much gone our own ways. A couple of them stayed in the rural area, others moved on to a city (or New York, like me). But we always make a point to meet when the occasion arises. It was great to get back in touch and to explore the possibilities of job opportunities in that area (I guess some would really like to see me moving back).
What I really appreciated the most during this 2-week-visit was the feeling that came out of it. I felt more grounded, down-to-earth, and simplistic than ever before. Life is so simple. Why make it complicated? When I am in NY, the small things tend to get to me and make me lose oversight of my overall goal. Being away and in a small-town area really helped in re-shaping my ambitions and purpose in life and to be surrounded by people who value me for who I am.
Whether I like it or not, this little spot in the heart of the Southwestern Germany countryside is where I spent most of my growing-up years and where my most crucial memories of life were created. It will therefore always carry an intense amount of old energy and hopefully it will continue to be my safe haven for a while.