Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Six Months Later

Today is the first day of spring, thanks to Google's doodle for alerting me to that this morning.  Today has been bright and sunny and beautifully springlike, but that isn't the only thing that has made today special for me.  Six months ago I stepped on a plane with two suitcases to start my life over here.  It seems like so much and nothing has happened in that time, I spent a very long time waiting to get my forms sorted from the UK so I could get my Health Insurance, my Freiz├╝gigkeitsbescheinigung and most importantly start my Integration course with the VHS.

The first few months and Christmas were very exciting but with the new year my high started to come down and I really struggled with my motivation.  I entered "that" phase that as far as I can tell all ex-pats do from time to time.  Temperatures of down to -18°c didn't really help things as going outside wasn't really something I wanted to do. I was left feeling isolated and alone at home during the day, surrounded by language that I frustratingly couldn't understand.

I knew things would get better, and they have. I started my Deutschkurs in February and on Friday I will have finished the first module.  I have made friends and even had a very pleasant lunch and shopping trip with a girl from Azerbaizjan who speaks no English.  Last weekend we took a trip over the boarder to Strasbourg where I took lots of photos and realised that the 8 years I spent learning French at school has been overwritten German words.  The Sun has been shining, the days are getting longer and the birds are singing everyday. I always knew that moving here would be hard at times but I absolutely made the right choice by coming here.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Distance is Just a Number

A couple of weeks ago I was standing in my kitchen sweetening some quark for my breakfast and I was reminded of something that happened back home.  My Mum had been told by a friend that adding an Options Hot  Chocolate powder to quark made a tasty low-syn dessert for Slimming World followers, so one day when I was invited for lunch she made it for me as a surprise. Now this was a wonderful gesture, and quark is not as easy to come by in England as it is in Germany so it required forethought, effort and planning, but it was unfortunately not delicious and at the time I was resentful of being on a diet.  It was, I am ashamed to admit, received without the gratitude it deserved and that made me very sad.

As with most people, I suppose, over our life time there are many gestures made by our parents that we are not  properly grateful for, or, equally as bad, we take for granted. So as I stood there adding berries and rolled oats, I was also stirring up a feeling that I had to remedy all those years of unintentional selfish encounters and tell her how much I appreciated everything she's done. After all this is the woman who when I was in the midst of my depression came and made sure I was looking after myself.  She cleaned up after me when things got so bad that I couldn't muster up the will to move from my tiny sofa.  She drove round one Christmas Day and delivered me a plated up Christmas dinner and a pot of gravy even though she had 14 house guests back home to run around after.

Don't get me wrong, I am far from the selfish brat that the above might paint me out to be, but even if I am properly grateful 99% of the time I couldn't help but dwell on those 1% of times I wasn't.  I had an urgent need to know that my Mum wouldn't go another minute without knowing that she knew I never meant to act that way.

A phone call would probably just have alarmed her, so I decided to send her some flowers and with the magic of InterFlora there was a knock at her door less than 3 hours later. At the same time the flowers arrived her phone rang, and she assumed it was me calling but it wasn't. In fact it was a friend baring bad news that another friend had been killed in a road accident the day before.  This friend was an amazing lady, it is not by chance that more than 500 people turned up for her funeral. Her eldest son is the same age as me and we were at first school together. I have many, many happy childhood memories of being in their home.

He no longer has the chance to tell his mother that he appreciates her, loves her and doesn't mean to take her for granted. I am glad that I took the time to do it, and that in a time of sadness I could comfort my Mum from hundreds of miles away.