Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thoughts From The Middle

During my AmeriCorps VISTA year I was often teased for being the “countdown girl” because once a month at our VISTA staff meetings I would take a moment to remind my cohorts how much time we had completed on our terms of service and also how many months we had left to go. This is not to imply that I didn’t enjoy my year of VISTA service or wished that it would be over. On the contrary, I loved being a VISTA and still consider it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

The countdowns weren’t really about counting down at all. They were about marking the passage of time, about taking a moment to think about where we had been and where we hoped to go. They were an opportunity for self-reflection and, maybe, for self-correction…

Much like my countdowns during my VISTA year, I have been “counting down” my months in Germany. Once again, not because I am crippled by some desperate need to go home immediately, but because I think an unexamined journey isn’t much of a journey at all.

Tomorrow is my three-month anniversary in Germany. This means it has been exactly three months since I’ve stepped foot on American soil, seen my friends and family, driven a car, eaten at Chipotle or shopped at Target. It also means that I have exactly three months left until I board a west-bound plane for home. It means that, after tomorrow, I will be more than halfway done with this journey.

Now, those of you who read this blog faithfully will certainly have noticed that my time in Germany hasn’t exactly shaped up as I expected it to. The language barrier has been brutal, I am struggling with some very grown-up feelings about wanting to “settle down,” and life as an au pair is a bit like living in a wonderfully crazy twilight zone. Additionally, I really miss Mexican food.

That being said, when I look back on the last three months I am amazed at everything that has unfolded. I started language classes in a foreign country, conquered the German train system, flew in my first small plane, took a nine-day solo journey that spanned two countries, survived Austria with a 2-year-old, laughed until I cried and cried so hard it was difficult to breath. I have been homesick, heartsick and actually sick. I’ve eaten a pig knee and sang drinking songs with Germans. I’ve been kicked in the face by life and, on the good days, I’ve kicked right back.

It’s been a hell of a ride and, to be honest, there have been many moments when I wasn’t entirely sure I would survive until the finish line. But, as Janis Ian once said, “Once you’re halfway home, you know you can probably get the rest of the way there.”

Sending Much Love,



  1. There are so many things I want to chat with you about! I'm going to write you a letter soon. I should go from overwhelmed to just whelmed soon and I will write you something good and long and potentially overly detailed.


  2. I have been counting the days also.
    You will be the best belated birthday gift ever!


  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I miss Mexican food too :) Just this weekend, Claire and I splurged on the imported Old El Paso burrito kit. A small taste of home. We sat eating in complete silence, savoring every minute of it.

    I love your line saying that an unexamined journey isn't much of a journey at all. So very true. Half of the wonder is learning from what you've experienced. And you sure have learned and experienced plenty in these three months and two days!

    Thinking of you and loving reading your blog.