The theme of my last several days her has been "The Last X". Virtually everything I've done for the past week or so has been done with a similar view: The last loaf of bread I need to buy, the last load of laundry I have to do, the last time I vacuum, the last time I'll eat Schauffele, etc., etc.. I mentioned this to my boss and he understandably told me to knock it off as I was making it sound like I was about to depart the earth altogether, rather than just leaving Europe. Fair enough. But the reality is that all of these day to day occurrences, from the mundane to the exotic, have defined my life here for the better part of the past 7 months.
As I wrote in my most recent post, it's been quite a ride. I can't say that I've enjoyed every moment from start to finish. But I will say that the experience is one that I am very glad to have had. My life would have been poorer without it and I am grateful to my employer for having given me the opportunity. I'm more grateful for Kate having encouraged me to take it on, in many ways the past 7 months have been harder on her than they have on me.
Thinking back it's very easy to evaluate my time here in terms of what I've seen and done. But looking deeper the whole experience of living on my own in a foreign country has really given me some quality time to reflect. It has given me a deeper understanding of what is really important. It has caused me to cherish the relationships that I have. It has made me realize how fortunate I am. Seven months after I started this adventure I feel like I know myself better than I have in quite some time.
On my last night in Nuremberg I made a point of stopping in at two of my favorite pubs/restaurants. Places where I've been getting not only great food and drink but perhaps more importantly, conversation and a sense of belonging. As I said my goodbyes at both places I received tokens of appreciation that made me feel that the relationships were more than simply those between proprietor/employee and customer but more so those of friends. As I said, I feel very fortunate.
Professionally there's a certain amount of uncertainty concerning my return. When I left it really wasn't clear what I'd be doing when I got back home. As one who is never truly comfortable with uncertainty I have to admit I have concerns. Far more importantly however, I'll be getting back to family and friends. Whatever the future holds I know everything is going to be great as long as I have them.
In order to truly complete this story I think I'll have to post once more regarding my transition back to "normal" life. Afterwards I hope I'll find something equally engaging to blog about. I'd love it if you came along with me.
And I absolutely must mention that my last meal in Germany, eaten in Nuremberg Airport, was sausages, a pretzel and a beer. And So It Goes indeed.
Thanks for reading,