Summer days

August 13, 2010

Vines overhead on patio of newly discovered winery

Summer is winding its way to a close - and I have very mixed feelings about it. It seems as though summer has really jump started our lives here: we made several new friends; discovered more towns and new places; started our much-needed language courses; hosted our first houseguest; finally finished covering all the dirt on the walls with fresh coats of paint. On the other hand, I'm so ready to bid farewell to the sporadic thunderstorms and hot summer rain. Bring on sweater weather!

View from an inlingua language school classroom in Wiesbaden (sadly, not ours!)

It's hard to believe that in just over two months, we'll reach the expiration date on our initial visa to be in Germany. With so much still to explore and learn about the culture - and the language! - I couldn't imagine calling it quits on our new home so soon. I feel like my ambition to improve my German has finally surpassed the complete and utter embarrassment at my new, limited communication skills. As our language abilities improve, so does our desire to get out and see more of the country we now call home. We'll definitely be applying for a longer visa this time around - we're here to stay!

We've been saved by honest-to-goodness Mexican food, courtesy of a San Antonio expat's restaurant in Mainz

In addition to providing us with a little California company, our first houseguest also allowed us a fresh take on where we live now. We've been so enchanted and completely won over by life here, I'm pretty sure most people back in the states are sick of hearing how much better we think everything is. So it was nice to have someone new here to offer their take on German living...and substantiate everything we've been saying! She raved about everything - the architecture, the sight-seeing, the shopping, the food, the ice cream, the drivers. I was anxious to see how she'd like it, for fear this would affect everyone else's likelihood of visiting if Deutschland didn't meet her expectations. Having my fears completely put to rest, I can't wait to have more visitors to show our life here.

The Marktkirsche - a must-see for all of our guests

Perhaps I'm also anxious for summer to be over because it means my parents trip out to spend the Christmas holidays with us is that much closer. In addition to being their first visit to see us, it will also be the first time either of them have really been to Europe (aside from my mom's brief rescue mission to London to bust me out of the hospital and nurse me back to health in a hotel room, so that doesn't count). It has been a tough several months to make a home and a life without them here, but I hope their visit will be the first of many and they will see why we've made such a major move in our lives. Aside from working with my mom nearly every day for the year prior to our move, she's also my best friend. Their Christmas trip will be pivotal in accepting the distance that is now between us and figuring out a way to make it work.

The beautiful patio at Weingut Reichert decorated with the winemaker's wife's lit steel artwork. Amazing.

As we try to enjoy the last bit of summer we have left and take advantage of some much-needed travel time my husband's been accruing, I can't help but think of everyone I left back in California. August is typically the month in Europe where everything shuts down and people take a month off to regroup for fall. My husband has much less work to do these days because many of their offices in other countries have literally no one there to do the work right now (more reason for us to get away now as well!). I'm fairly certain my former colleagues at all my previous employers are working away, nose to the grindstone - especially those in the education sector, as they gear up for back-to-school time.

It seems that in the San Francisco Bay Area especially, people are expected to work crazy hours, be reachable while on vacation (if they actually ever take one) and all to barely afford a little piece of the American Dream (aka - property) that they hardly even see. I can't help but wonder why. After seeing how life can be somewhere else, I can't ever imagine going back to that lifestyle. I hope all my friends find a way to balance their life with some much-deserved time to enjoy, you know, life. By the way, I know somewhere in Europe you can come and stay for free. ; )

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische