Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Small adventures

Likely when you think of living anywhere in Europe, you immediately imagine your impossibly stylish self walking through a city built in 1342, now lined with street cafes, and markets filled with flowers and fruit, fresh bread and stinky cheese, all neatly wrapped and ready to take home to your perfect little scandinavian style flat that over looks some very lovely, yet humble, river. 

Oh you don’t think all that? Well I do, and actually living in Germany has proven to be, or have, most of those things. 

The part where my imagination parts from reality, is the way I live and interact with this old, colorful, and beautiful country filled with street cafes, markets, rivers, etc. etc. As a 26-year-old with two small children, my dependable hot spots are the park, the library, the bookstore with a train table, and the grocery store (because, you know, I must feed those little mouths as well as keep them entertained). I pass cafe after cafe, market after market. Yellow roses call out to me as I see old ladies with their baskets filled with fragrant bunches. And the cafes seem to taunt me a little, filled with other 26-year-olds, drinking their espresso and reading a book, quietly, stylishly (as I’m being snotted upon yet again) and I can’t help but feel a little stuck in this strange place of responsibility and inability. 

I know this is starting to sound like the same whiney story you’ve heard on a million other blogs, so I”ll cut to the chase. My point in saying all this is simply that, yes, life is hard sometimes—nothing new here. We all have this idea of what life would ideally be for us, and we spend more time than we would care to divulge in making that ideal a reality (or at least a perceived reality, right?). We take artsy pictures—being careful to clear the crumbs and broken crayons out of the way before the shutter closes—and we are all curators of our homes, our wardrobes, and our meals. Not all of this is bad. I take a lot of joy in picking colors for our home and styles for our clothes. I like arranging our shelves and wiping our table down after every meal not only so it can be enjoyed at a moments notice, but so we have a pleasing environment to live in. This kind of curating is simply a matter of taste, of preference, and certainly not a bad thing.

However, living in Germany is teaching me to let go of my impulse to curate my daily experiences to serve some selfish, unrealistic glamorous european fantasy. I don’t need to travel to the big cities of Germany, or drink exotic coffee and have a home filled with fresh flowers to truly enjoy living here. I am living here, isn’t that enough? Isn’t it okay for my days to be filled with ordinary excursions to the park? 

On Monday, Cody needed to do a couple last things to finally get enrolled at Tübingen University, so we decided to make it a family excursion. The day was not without some frustration, and sweat and tears, and it most certainly wasn’t filled with leisurely beer drinking and wurst eating. But it was one of our best days in Germany to date, and I think mostly for the reason that we didn’t try to make it an experience, we simply enjoyed the experience that it was, the views around each corner, the constant conversing in German, and the killer playground we found. 

And so, each day I return to our undecorated apartment and ugly blue couch, with two dirty, happy, worn out kids, and I have to ask myself, what was so appealing about that empty, quiet cafe, anyway?

Disclaimer: Sometimes I do drink coffee at cool cafes, and sometimes we do other cool European stuff, too. Just not allllllllll the time.

1 comment:

  1. Mary! I know I am so late in commenting here, but I was checking up on you to see how you are doing, and i can't thank you enough for your honesty in this post. What a beautiful, inspiring post! Thank you for using your gift for words to remind our generation that we can achieve the peace of contentment by seeing the ordinary gifts of life, love and family for what they are--miracles.Thank you for posting!! <3