This January has been a little bit different for me. We flew back to Berlin over New Year’s Eve this year. We got on the flight at 1pm Portland time/10pm Berlin time on Dec. 31st and walked off the plane at 11am Berlin time/ 2am Portland time on Jan. 1. We got on public transit and walked out of the UBahn station a little after noon and the world looked like it had exploded. Let me back up. New Year’s Eve in Berlin is a thing. The whole city explodes on a dangerous level and what is left over is firecracker trash and desolation. Every stays in for a while on New Years Day and we were coming home. For me, it came with an overwhelming sense of melancholy and instant homesickness.
January has been about coming out of the melancholy. I spent the first few days of the New Year allowing myself to lean into jet lag, homesickness, and sadness for returning to Germany. I felt the melancholy of return this time more than before for some reason. On top of that, a job I had actually really really wanted in my field of expertise, and something I thought I had a shot at, sent me the rejection email on New Years day for me to return to. And coming from Portland, where people offer me jobs in places I am passionate about, makes that rejection feel even deeper. It has taken me longer this time to return to this place with the gusto of making it home again for now. This is a for now season in my life that offers so many other things that Oregon cannot right now.
So I returned to nannying and school. When people asked me how I was doing I said I was alright, which was true. I tried not to hide behind the mask of, “I’m fine.” I asked my friends for more contact and started to make plans that only Europe can offer. Ana took me to the spa and was so supportive and understanding. We have been planning our Camino and dreaming which helps. We bought tickets to go to Switzerland in a few weeks of a few days and started scheming about when we will visit the US again. I know the tools that will help. We have returned to the gym and I have been writing more now than before.
And last week I got an email from a group putting together a devotional book for Lent to fight the patriarchy and they chose something I submitted. The wrote about my beautiful writing and their editors have made my words shine. They even picked the perfect title and asked for my bio. I got the email right before meeting up with a friend who was visiting for like 24 hours. We met up and walked around the city and I have started noticing beauty when it shows up again in this place.
In that moment of sun and editors that want my work I thought to myself, “It is because I intend to thrive.” And then I realized that I believed that. I do. I don’t just intend to plod along in whatever place I find myself. I intend to thrive…even when its not what I expected or where I always feel called. Even when it is hard and my heart sometimes aches. Even when things don’t work out the way I even could imagine because it means other things are happening that can only teach me things.
This means that I will try to immerse myself more in this place. For example, while cooking yesterday, started trying to find German singer songwriters that I might like with music in German so I might be able to embrace more of what is here rather than just what I know.
I have made a new friend at school and she and her wife came for dinner last night. They are also American and we were talking about what happens when we encounter the German lecture or when we get yelled at for not knowing what is going on. I tend to take it really personally and am learning how to care for myself in it and learn from what it means to be an immigrant. On my best days that is what I take away and on my worst days I want to stay inside. But this new friend’s wife said, “when this is happening I just take this opportunity to think I am learning…..how the sentences work, what the words are and how they use them. At least I can learn something in this encounter.” We all laughed but she is right. Right now, it is all used to learn something…about myself, about this place, about the world and about me in the world. I intend to use it. Perhaps this is my New Year’s intention. To thrive. To learn. To use it.