So here we are. Yep. Living In Germany.
Seriously, we’re living …in ….Germany.
This is insane.
My head still swims thinking about it. How did this happen again? I mean, I can’t say it was like a whirlwind, because as any of our friends will tell you, this took months to pull off.
But now that it has all happened, it suddenly seams like a blur.
The previous five months of laborious planning aside, I guess the last few weeks definitely fell under the hectic category. Transitioning out of our old jobs, selling our car, renting out our house, packing up, well, …everything, having movers come, getting our Government passports, …plus at least 3 dozen other things I’ll only ever remember under hypnosis.
It’s a lot like getting married I guess. You are so busy planning the minutia details and accomplishing the ten thousand and one errands that you really don’t have much of a chance to truly step back and grasp what’s going on. I don’t think it really hit me till the going away party our friends threw for us how much we are going to miss everyone. I mean, sure, you are aware it will be tough. But the moment you are there hugging your friends and family, searching for something to say besides just Goodbye, …its hard not to have second thoughts.
I mean we had a good thing going at home. We each had careers going, had a great network of friends in place, we’re near our families and, to borrow a t-shirt title…life was good. Hell, our lives were exactly where they should have been. We had the house, a dog, and were openly talking about starting our family and our 2.5 kids (I guess Ally counts as the 1/2). Why possibly throw all of that up in the air and move to Europe?
Well, as Edmund Hillary responded when asked why he wanted to climb Everest, “Because it’s there.”
Among all the reasons Rachel and I gave back and forth about career, and financial stability, and our time line for children, in the end Germany presented itself as a unique offer for an amazing life experience. One that presented itself with a narrow window of opportunity.
Time is running out. With the Army BRAC, many US bases in Germany and across Europe will not be around much longer. World War II was 60 plus years ago, I guess it’s about time the US packed up shop. In another 5 years we will have maybe 2 major bases left of the dozen or so major installation that America once held here.
They say a cat cannot resist the site of a garage door closing. That impulse to make it through before the opportunity to do so is gone is near impossible for them to resist. Rachel and I had gone back and forth many times about what our next steps would, and though taking the job offer in Germany was never in the top 3 options, we couldn’t throw it completely off the table.
I guess we both had a little feline in us.
The job, to work for the Army as medical software trainers is a good one. If you want to live overseas, but still want a bit of home around you, try working on an OCONUS (overseas) US military base, there are 725 of them outside the US. You don’t need an overseas Visa, and you still pay American taxes as if you are living in the US. Which is a good thing as some countries taxes are exponentialy higher than ours. Germany sales tax is 19% alone. Plus, if you take a job working as a military contractor overseas, they’ll cover your relocation costs, including shipping a car, pay for your plane tickets, and will even pay for your housing your entire stay overseas. Plus they throw in a monthly cost of living bonus to help offset the weakness of the dollar against the local currency. Not a bad deal eh?
Still walking away is never easy. Sure, people always say they would. But when it comes down to it, leaving your life behind is not for the faint of heart.
So we pulled the trigger. We said Yes, signed the bottom line and got sworn in as GS employees to “protect all threats against America foreign and domestic.” Though here in Germany I’m guessing it will be more of the former than the latter.
A whirlwind of goodbye parties behind us, we boarded the plane and said goodbye to our …everything.
I have to admit that sitting on the eight hour flight to Germany, my wife, Rachel, asleep on my arm and our 5 lb dog Ally, nicely sedated in a crate at my feet, I spent a long time looking out the window. Though this was certainly a family decision, there was little doubt I was driving force behind this move.
The skills I would develop here, the connections I would make, and the goals I was hoping to accomplish would be, we both hoped, a slingshot into a very successfully career once we returned home. A lot was riding on my assessment, that, life experience aside, we would leave Germany in a much better state professionally than when we came. I had turned down several amazing job offers, and had hitched both our collective wagons to a German star.
I must have played every possible outcomes of this endeavor, good and bad through my mind a thousand times till now. But being on the plane, locked and sealed away somewhere over the middle of the ocean, I felt more relaxed than I had in months. Right, wrong or indifferent, we had made our decision. Racing away from home at 350 miles per hour over the Atlantic Ocean we had crossed our Event Horizon, the literal point of no return. The choice was made. Emotionally exhausted , I finally fall asleep as well.
– – – – – – — —
Well, nothing quite jolts you awake like touchdown on tarmac and a close to 1 G deceleration.
“…Goodten Motgen – Velcome to Franfurt, Germany”
Barely awake, Rachel and I gathered our things, made our way off the plan, and stepped out through Frankfurt airport.
Well, here we were.
Finally, we cleared customs, gathered our bags and began making our way towards the exit. Our still half sedated, and utterly confused, puppy dog safely in tow.
There was commotion and voices everywhere, and we couldn’t’ understand a word of it.
Signs looked like gibberish, cars were shaped differently, and construction cones were all in red instead of orange. The smell in the air was like that of any other city, but the air felt different. I don’t know, …crisper, wetter. Not sure how to put it.
I won’t lie though, holding hands, our grip became a little bit tighter as we began to soak in our new surroundings, and reality began to set in.
We must have been a sight, standing there together in the Frankfurt International Airport terminal entrance looking out at it all. Rachel, me, and a 5 lb Yorkie, …peering out from inside a designer hand bag. Like Dorothy , Toto, and, well, I’ll go with Scarecrow.
The airport terminal doors seamlessly slid open and immediately the sound of a German ambulance went by. Sounding like something out of a foreign film, clearly reminding us, well, …we were not in Kansas anymore
Yes, here we were. It was time.
A deep collective breath, I gave Rachel as an assuring look as I could muster, and together we stepped out .
Out onto the streets of Germany.