Spring is coming. Slowly, yes, but it is coming. Carnival chased away all the winter spirits and the sun is hanging in here for a few extra minutes each day. In the morning, when I walk to work, I can hear the birds singing and tiny little bulbs are poking their heads through the rather flat, rather boring, rather Wintry landscape. It is warmer – a relative term – than frosty February and the wind doesn’t so much freeze as invigorate. Yes, Spring is here and it couldn’t have started sprinkling its magic dust sooner.
With Spring always comes this wonderful sense of change and newness, this undercurrent of fizz and anticipation. Spring is the lemonade of the seasonal world – sweet and sparkly and well deserved. Afternoons yawn lazily into evenings, blood starts pumping around the body once more, life wakes up. Lambs and baby deer run around the fields, daffodils bloom, bare legs appear and floral prints edge out grey and camel. Thank God. I have had enough of grey and bloody camel. With Spring comes space, light and colour.
Change is in the air in my little Germanic world and not just because Spring is upon us. And when I say upon us, I mean upon me, in my head, because the skies remains grey, cantankerous and miserable and I am simply projecting my desire to have bare legs and hold a lamb onto a rather depressing canvas. But it is warmer, so that counts for something and lends weight to the overall Spring/life change metaphor I am gunning for.
Recently, I have been stuck in a permanent state of contemplation. Perhaps reflection is a better word. As the Münster Era comes to a close and I find myself days away from cracking the spine of the Bavarian Adventure, no nanosecond is safe from my mulling. I am, as my mother would say, navel gazing, but I really cannot help it. This limbo practically begs for it. Because of this, I have had a few realisations about this current state of flux and about the change it shall ultimately culminate in.
On the day I will pack the moving truck with all the things I have accumulated, it will be 20 months to the day since I left Sydney with one bag and absolutely no idea what this would all bring. I didn’t really know what I was doing, beyond ‘going to Germany, via Santorini, to teach English for a while’, or why, just that it had to be done.
On the day I will pack the moving truck with all the things I have accumulated, it will be nearly 18 months to the day since I landed in Germany with that same bag and a couple of extra pairs of shoes I’d picked up in Athens. Totally inappropriate shoes for German weather, obviously, but then again most things I owned up until 18 months ago were and are totally inappropriate for German weather and I yearn for the day I can actually break in a pair of the Athenian heels.
And on the day I will pack the moving truck with all the things I have accumulated, something else will change that I hadn’t really hitherto thought about. Not just my surroundings, where I’ll buy the breakfast brötchen and the cafe I will come to use as a writing refuge. Not just my work place and my colleagues and students. Not just my social circle, who I will drink coffee and wine with and share stories and small, then medium, then big talk with. Packing up my things on Saturday night, the walls stripped of their postcards and photos, the window sill of its vases and decorations, it suddenly hit me; I am not just saying goodbye to Münster but also to a time of my life. To a ‘me’. To the single, living, travelling solo me. I am moving in with someone. This isn’t just moving from Münster to Weiden, from Nord Rhine-Westphalia to Bavaria. This is me moving from solo to duo. This is me moving from a wind-in-her-hair traveller to a sort of expat-partner.
Whenever a chapter in life closes, you are afforded a wonderful moment of reflection. The ability to look at an entire part of your life and how it fits in with all the other parts. What role it played. What function it fulfilled. Pulling things off the walls of my lovely bedroom on one of Münster’s most beautiful avenues, I can see the past two years as if I am flipping through their days like a photo album. I can see how one thing led to another, how each decision, whether borne out of necessity, urgency, spontaneity or grave consideration, swept clear the path or put a little signpost up in a particularly obscure patch of wilderness. And I can see that this chapter really is over. There is no more to be written. The plot needs to move along now, and with it, the protagonist.
There was a tiny moment, when I realised just how much was changing, beyond the physical, beyond the obvious, and a little drop of sadness disturbed the surface. Perhaps nostalgia is a better word. But I think you have to allow for sadness when things change. Because it is sad. You are leaving things behind, familiar things and comforting things, things you have worked hard for – relationships, cosy apartments, a job. And there will be things that will fall by the wayside, things that won’t fit anymore, things you can’t bring along with you. That isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. That is, I suppose, quite simply life.
And I think, as well, you have to allow for fear. You have to be scared, it puts a fire in your belly, it makes you do things you mightn’t ordinarily, things that lead to more, things that show you what you are capable of, what you can really do.
And most of all, I think you must remember what the mother of two children I teach told me, a woman born in Ukraine, who emigrated to Israel and then to Germany; something good always comes of change.
She’s right. And I am ready for it.