The last few weeks have been busy and hard and beautiful all at once. I did a German exam, said goodbye to all of the children and staff at school, cooked with youth group. I cried silently at the train station as Inma left to go back to Spain, and swam in the lake. I visited my God-family one last time, and had tea with Sibylle. I cooked delicious food with Judith and Chokri and barbecued with the refugees from the language course. I spent a week with 25 young girls on a summer camp filled with walks and stories and fireflies and glitter and cake and singing. I came back to an evening of street theatre and dance with Lisa and her family. I was prayed for at church, and cooked dinner for 2 pilgrims who had walked 410km from Weimar. I cleaned the apartment with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. And tomorrow is the day I fly home.
I have been saying goodbye for a few weeks now. There is a word for how that feels in German – Abschiedsschmerz, the pain of parting. I have had to disentangle myself from people I love, and watch them keep walking together as I slip away.
I asked Mareike if there is a German word for the opposite of homesickness – when you will miss the place you are in, rather than your home. She said there is no word for that. Because when you feel like that, then it too has become your home. So why am I surprised that I am not ready to leave?
One of the girls in my class on the camp said ‘I like that I can always cuddle you in school. Oh… I mean, that I could always cuddle you.’ I am not ready to be past tense. I am not ready to file away this part of my life, and readjust to a new present. I am not ready for my plane ticket to be one-way, no return. I am not ready, yet. And still, tomorrow is the day I fly home.
Right now, I am stuck in limbo between two countries and two seasons of my life, almost finished and almost starting again. I am anticipating that the next few weeks will be just as much of a culture shock as the first few weeks in Germany were. Adapting to a different rhythm of life is tiring, and I need to relearn how to live in England – it is unsettling when what was once familiar suddenly seems strange. I do not like transitions.
But I did like it here. I liked the spontaneous barbecues, the sunshine-filled days, the friendly handshakes, the fresh bread rolls, the dramatic thunder storms, the fruit-filled quark cakes, the sweet cherries that grow by the side of country lanes, the shimmering lake, the quiet streets, the Sunday ‘Ruhetag’, the people who I got to know.
I have come full-circle, nearly. I arrived in the summer, 11 and a half months ago, and the warm breeze and summer holiday calm remind me that I have lived here through 4 entire seasons. Through breathtaking autumn leaves and deep snowdrifts and rainstorms and sunshine. I feel as if I blinked and missed it. So I will keep whispering to myself that it was real.
Jetzt ist es soweit.
Auf Wiedersehen, Görlitz.