“Um, Claire, so what gives? No blogging for like 2 weeks?”
Yes, it has been a while. Yesterday afternoon I got back to Germany in one piece, even if I am still not sure what time it is.
The past two weeks will definitely be on my list of my best trips back to the U.S. Actually both trips this year were really good. As you may remember, in March we visited mom and dad-squared in Charleston, SC and this time we visited dad and mom-squared in Ypsilanti, MI. The trick to these perfect trips: don’t do both cities at once. Driving from Charleston to Ypsilanti (and it is always a round trip) just blows and takes two days. Our trip was pretty uneventful. I did not write or talk to anyone except my family during the trip. I just wanted to enjoy my time away.
We spent one gorgeous day at the Henry Ford / Greenfield Village. Normal people collect stamps or coins. Henry Ford collected houses. You know, for fun. All of the historical sights and homes that he bought are reconstructed in a “village” outside of Dearborn, MI. It is a taste of Americana which includes the Wright Brother's bike shop, Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory, and the Firestone Farm. The weather was perfect the day we visited: 68 degrees and sunny. We walked around for four hours and the German could not get over the beautiful colors of all the leaves.
Doing tourist stuff was not really high on our agenda. We spent our days walking in the park, visiting the mall, going to the movies, etc (not all in one day mind you). I drank one too many lattes and watched enough TV for a month. The German went to his first college football stadium. He watched UofM at the “Big House” battle for the Little Brown Jug. Unfortunately it rained the entire day. That evening we also went to a UofM hockey game. I am currently trying to deprogram him after his “conversion” to UofM.
We did take a small road trip down to my old stomping grounds. Although I graduated in 2005, my old university has changed a lot in 2 ½ years. They have built two new buildings and have started on extensions to the law school and engineering school. Also, they took out a major road through the university and planted a park and trees. The German has a mildly amusing video of my standing in the middle of the park, looking around and saying in a rather dumbfounded tone over and over again, “This used to be a street.” During the trip I had coffee with my old advisor. It was really nice. I often worry that I have disappointed my professors by getting out of academia. I told him that I felt like I had to choose between a career and a family and I choose the latter. He told me that I made the correct decision, which was reassuring.
Finally, we did drive to the Land o’ Cheese and visited my Grandpa (he who sometimes comments on this blog) and dad-squared’s family. As always, they are a pleasure to visit. As always, this trip was too short.
When the German and I left the U.S. on Friday, I was really sad. I could also see that my dad was sad. It was one of the first times that I have not wanted to come back to Germany. The funny thing is that I am starting to feel a bit disconnected from my life back in the states; my “old life.” There were times when I felt like I just did not fit-in any more. However, I often do not feel like I fit-in here in Germany either. These feelings are extremely difficult, and yet typical of the ex-pat experience. You have one foot in each country, which makes “home” a difficult place to define. Because of my mixed feelings about coming back, I have picked several fights with the German. I am not sure why I do it. I suppose that it is because he is the closest person to me and I cannot manage to keep my trap shut.
Life goes back to its “normalcy” tomorrow. Time to get back to work and pay the bills. Already the U.S. seems so far away.